Building Information Modeling (BIM) can be difficult to grasp for first-time users but taking the time to learn the ins and outs will net those users notable savings on project deliveries, even on small jobs.
“It’s that initial (inflated) costing that has many people put off by BIM,” and virtual design and construction (VDC), said Michael Pavlovec, transportation design manager with GHD, a multi-national construction/design and engineering company.
But Pavlovec, who gave a webinar during Buildings Week recently on using BIM and VDC, which allows additional collaboration from a design team on small projects, said GHD’s data collected from various projects shows that costs decrease substantially after several projects.
The data indicated while first projects saw a 45 per cent increase on delivery costs over the price without BIM/VDC, much of that outlay was for one-time expenditures, such as software deployment, training and an assortment of other costs, said Pavlovec, who has been a BIM project lead on numerous projects.
“By the second time you have sorted out some of the initial gaps in your process, your training is in place…and you have become a little more efficient,” he said.
GHD’s data showed that by project five users were consistently seeing a cost savings on architectural, engineering and construction.
He told the webinar audience that GHD knows its clients will see savings using BIM and VDC because the company has created a system to monitor, review and improve the use of BIM.
“We know who is using the software and how they are using it.”
BIM allows the design team to solve problems early, prior to construction when costs for change orders increase and can result in costly schedule slippage.
“It can result in fewer, much fewer, construction conflicts,” he added.
Pavlovec calls it one of a number of “hidden benefits” of BIM because it can’t be measured against the time and cost for the changes during construction.
While the technology allows for “greater iterations” early in design, it also encourages collaboration among the design and construction team.
Another takeaway is that bidding on contracts becomes more competitive when all the players are using BIM.
“There is no great variation between high and low bidders anymore.”
Pavlovec told the audience that how a project comes together can be seen through modelling during the design.
In one example, GHD showed a client through modelling how a deep culvert would be installed under a highway and the impact construction would have on traffic patterns.
The modelling displayed precise sheet piling locations, safe slopes for excavation and the depths of the culverts in relationship to existing drainage channels.
“For safety, we were able to quickly model extruding 2D shapes for temporary concrete barriers for traffic signals,” he added.
The speaker emphasized that BIM and VDC are a “new process to add to your arsenal. They are not a new way of calculating things, doing things.
“They are there to help add value to projects and streamline many of those tasks.”
Rather than thinking of it as a situation where employees have to be retrained, think of it as giving them additional tools, he told the webinar audience.
“They have to follow a slightly different process,” to complete their jobs, he said.
Once staff training has commenced, Pavlovec suggested clients use BIM to go over a previously completed project. The idea is to assess whether the design and engineering process using BIM/VDC would have led to happier clients or stakeholders.
“Talk about what went right and what went wrong and how you can change that process. After that you are ready for a live project.”
The webinar was part of the virtual Buildings Week show through Construct Canada and BUILDEX Alberta.