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BIM Impact on Construction Process and Productivity

Building Information Modelling (BIM);

Is this the Key to a Sustainable Future?

Exploring the Impact of BIM model on Construction Processes and Productivity.

1. Introduction

The construction industry is considered as one of the world’s largest industries and consists of tasks which are fragmented into segments. The main issue facing this industry is its multidisciplinary approach which requires every project to be unique hence it has to undergo through various coordinating issues. Various advancements have been made by information and communication technology (ICT) to deal with these coordinating issues and improve low productivity issues of this sector (Johnson & Laepple, 2003). It has been observed that during the last three decades a drastic improvement has been made in the construction industry with the use of IT. One of the most encouraging development in this field is the implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is a tool which allows storage and reuse of information throughout lifecycle of the project. Hence BIM is considered as a main element which helps in integration and coordination of information exchange and knowledge through various segments of the construction project (Eastman, et al., 2011).

BIM is a new approach which helps in improving the productivity of construction and attaining an overall increased performance level. Research has been performed which focuses on process change which are required to be taken on site along with various technical implementation required on any construction site. BIM provides the client which a prototype model which helps in understanding building design and construction details in a simulated manner before stating any construction. Hence the best advantage which can be attained from BIM implementation is productivity improvement, good product quality and ehnahce sustainability options for the client. The implementation of technological advancement in construction requires comptent individuals possessing the right skill set which can assist in completing the requirements of the industry. Various new roles are now introduced in construction industry for increasing collaboration and integration between project teams and one of such tool is BIM.

1.1. Problem Statement

BIM and its interlinked issues have always been a subject of significant research and development and various improvements have been suggested for increasing the efficiency of costruction planning and control, planning and design processes along with design construction integration. Moreover it has also been found that BIM and 4D approaches are able to provide faster and more effective communication between the parties which are involved in the construction process. This research is intended to focus on capturing the effects of BIM during the different phases of construction project. Moreover this paper will also focus on four factors which effects the BIM model on construction processes and productivity. The aspects which are associated with changes focuses more on people issues and overlook aspects associated with BIM implementation hence it is required to focus more on process and productivity related factors such as request for information, change orders, rework changes and compliance scheduling requirements etc. Currently there are lot of theories which have been designed for dealing with different barriers which limit the usefulnesses of BIM in construction projects.

1.2. Research Aims and Objectives

The aim of this research is to find out what impact does building information modeling (BIM) have of professional roles and relationships in construction process and productivity. Moreover it also aims to develop an understanding of the decision making process associated with BIM in a construction project which can improve the overall productivity and improve processes within the segments. Hence the objectives of this research are as follows:

  • To analyze the decisions which are made regarding BIM implementation and what are the advantages and disadvantages associated with it.
  • To examine the roles and the change in processes which have been developed in the industry as a result of the introduction of BIM in construction.
  • To explore the association and interaction between various processes with the implementation of BIM and how will productivity be increased with this technique.
  • To discuss how the implementation of BIM will increase speed, enhance collaboration, better integration and an increase in overall project productivity.

2. Literature Review

2.1. Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Construction industry has always experienced low productivity issues as compared with other industries which all results largely due to poor planning and communication. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process which has been introduced to resolve such problems which helps in creating a simulation of the overall project and also assist in finding faults in the project timely. BIM is sometimes also referred as Building Information Management which is the utilization of virtual building information models for developing design solutions, documentation and for analyzing construction processes (Chelson, 2010). Hence we can define BIM as follows:

“Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of both functional and physical characteristics of a certain project. Moreover BIM is also regarded as a shared knowledge resource for information which creates a reliable basis for decision during the complete life cycle of project starting from its initiation to demolition.”

Currently BIM software has been utilized by individuals, businesses and various governmental sectors for planning, designing, construction, operation and maintenance of physical infrastructures. BIM provides the opportunity for developing better cost estimation based on actual elements of the construction project along with better design and construction process and methods. Moreover BIM also helps in improving sustainability and management of asset as it allows collaboration of processes and procedures across all stages of the project life cycle.

BIM Impact on Construction Process and Productivity Image 1

Figure 1: BIM as the foundation to sustainability and asset management improvement, Source: (CSQ, 2014)

BIM has provided the constructional professionals with so much to offer but its potential has still to be realized as it can also be used as a hybrid technology. In this manner BIM will allow to seek integration and will also provide interoperability along various stages of the construction. According to the research performed by various researchers it has been found that there are a number of projects which utilize BIM and their productivity has gained from 5% to 40% which in turns also depends on how the processes are managed (Chelson & Skibniewski, 2010).

The factors which helps in analyzing the productivity gains include amount of saving attained on a certain project along with the prediction obtained from the contractors. However there are some other factors too which helps in making productivity gain clear such as reduction in rework, RFI reduction, less compliance issues, scheduling of tasks timely and changes attained timely without any conflicts. BIM enabled projects depict 10% RFI which allows an average contractor to save 9% of the total management time. Further it has also been found that BIM enabled projects are able to reduce rework and the idle time wasted by workers to an overall reduction of 9% of project costs (Sanvido, 2008).

2.2. Productivity in Construction

Production is regarded as the work which is contributed towards attaining a certain goal but it must be made clear that work which is intended to be done must be done at the right place, right time and in the right manner. Productivity rate is the ratio of unit input per unit output and is mentioned in the form of percentage. This rate helps in measuring the ability of completing a certain task but it is possible that a work done is productive but overall it shows low productivity rates. For instance when an additional labor is introduced to a project but there is no proportional increase in output gained due to improper planning of the project. Hence it must be made clear that higher the productivity the faster you are able to get something done, moreover higher the productivity rate the greater the efficiency and therefore total cost of task completion will become lower. In construction industry the productivity rate is important because it helps in indicating the amount of money which will be spent on the completion of the project.

2.3. BIM and Productivity

BIM is regarded as the development and the utilization of computer assisted software into modeling which helps in creating simulation of the construction design having an improved operational facility. According to Smith (2007), the underlying concept of BIM is to build a building virtually prior to building it physically as it not only helps in working out problems early but it also help in simulating and analyzing the potential impact the project will have on the immediate client or user. The advantage which BIM offers include faster and more effective processes along with improved design and quality of the end product. Moreover BIM implementation in a project improves collaboration between participants, saving of time and cost, reduction in manual work and communication and identification possible risk and conflicts early in project and devising a solution for mitigating such risks (Gong & Caldas, 2011).

The global rate of BIM adoption is increasing since 2007 and is in continuous increase is evident from various ongoing projects in these developed countries as it is apparent from Figure 2. BIM possess the potential to enhance productivity and owing to this reason various countries are implementing this in their projects such as Singaporean government whom has designed a policy to promote and facilitate the application of BIM in their approval stages of the project. During the construction phase BIM is the prime contributor to the success of a project by enabling practitioners to properly schedule and budget the complete project. Moreover it also helps in making quality level decision and reduce risks earlier. According to Nath et al. (2015) there could be an overall productivity improvement of around 36% in processing time and 38% for the total project time.

BIM Impact on Construction Process and Productivity Image 2

Figure 2: Global BIM Adoption, Source: (McGraw Hill, 2007)

3. Research Methodology

In order to identify the objectives of this research a proper methodology is required which helps in analyzing the real life cases and arguments by making use of latest methods and techniques of data collection. It must also be made clear that validity and reliability of the data collected must be kept in complete consideration for completing this research. For completion of this research both primary and secondary data collection methodologies will be utilized. Secondary data research involves case studies for exploring the effect of BIM during construction phases of the project along with its effect on overall process and productivity improvement.

The research methodology is regarded as the general plan which helps in relating empirical research with the conceptual research problem. Moreover it also provides a plan for how and what data should be collected and how the results collected can be analyzed. The chosen research design will influence the type and quality of the collected empirical data. The research design for this study is exploratory which helps in developing an understanding the barriers to the adoption of BIM in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. The research also aims to examine how different barriers identified in research affect a specific project and how the decision will help in adoption of BIM as a traditional working process.

Considering the research design of this proposal there are two ways of identifying what is true or false and then determining the conclusion of that research. These two methods are induction and deduction where induction relies on empirical evidence whereas deduction is based entirely on logic. Inductive research is utilized in qualitative research where conclusion are based on empirical observations while in such observations it must be assured by the research that any interesting result should not be missed. Deduction is a form of research which involves reasoning hence conclusions are drawn based on real events, data and reasons based completely on logic. The research first build a hypothesis based on the existing knowledge and then apply various empirical studies for evaluating the hypothesis through tests and once the results are obtained the final conclusion drawn outlines the acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis (Ghauri & Grønhaug, 2010).

Hence for this research both inductive and deductive methods will be applied such as indicative reasoning will be based on data collected from survey which also helps in understanding the barriers to the adoption of BIM. While on the other hand deductive method will also be applied for making research more authentic by analyzing various case studies and interviews of industry professionals which helps in evaluating the overall impact on productivity after BIM implementation.

Conclusion

The significance of BIM is well understood from the data presented above and it is evident that relative awareness should be made regarding BIM not only in clients but also among contractors and sub-contractor which help in increasing profits by improving productivity. The most significant BIM advantages include visual simulation of the project, spatial coordination, improved understanding of the complete project design till completion which in turns improves project quality and the ability to automate complete project and the ones which follow this project. Despite the positive aspects and numerous benefits there are some barriers which cause a delay or hold in the implementation of this technology which includes lack of technical or functional requirements, improper data management, interoperability issues between various platforms, version management, data security and lack of communication. Moreover it has also been found that there are cases which have undergone high investment costs while there has been a relatively slow return on the investment of BIM (Giel & Issa, 2013). Still there has been an increasing support for BIM adoption in construction business and the suite of technologies which it provides allow significant improvements in IT infrastructure, increase in the adoption of BIM, more utilization of computer hardware and software in construction. Another challenge which this technology is facing is the availability of skilled workers who can successfully apply BIM in a certain project and attain its full potential. Hence not only information workers but also the construction workers are required to learn and become skilled in this technology and projects are getting bigger, larger and complex with the passage of time. The key to any successful change lies in proper communication and education, and providence of satisfactory support throughout the implementation of the process. For BIM to be implemented successfully, all individuals present in a project must contribute in this change actively. Once change starts taking place from the lowest level its effects will be evident from the upper level. Moreover it is required that professional should share their knowledge and experiences with others in the industry which will help them in making decisions timely in a supportive manner as this form of communication possess the ability to increase productivity in the AEC industry which will in return provide numerous social and economic benefits. The future is near when every project whether small or big will be done through BIM adoption and implementation.

Research Plan

The projected timetable of the study is given below:

Intended tasks

Week

1-2

Week

3-4

Week

5-6

Week

7

Week

8

Week

9

Collection of Literature

Writing Literature Review

Introduction chapter

Methodology plus

Survey designing

Data collection through survey

Data feeding and Analysis

Writing data analysis chapter

Conclusion chapter

Finalization of research report

References

Chelson, D. E., 2010. The Effects of Building Information Modeling on Construction Site Productivity. Digital Repository at the University of Maryland.

Chelson, D. E. & Skibniewski, M. J., 2010. The Effects of Building Information Modeling on Construction Site Productivity. University of Maryland.

CSQ, 2014. How will BIM impact future construction industry skills, capabilities and workforce profile?. [Online]
Available at: http://csq.org.au/csq/media/Common/publications/CSQ_Discussion_Paper_BIM_2.pdf
[Accessed 20 May 2017].

Eastman, C., Teicholz, P., Sacks, R. & Liston, K., 2011. BIM Handbook, a Guide to Building Information Modelling 2nd Ed.. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons: s.n.

Ghauri, P. & Grønhaug, K., 2010. Research Methods in Business Studies 4th Ed.. s.l.:Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd..

Giel, B. K. & Issa, R. R. A., 2013. Return on Investment Analysis of Using Building Information Modeling in Construction.. (ASCE)CP, pp. 511-521.

Gong, J. & Caldas, C. H., 2011. An object recognition, tracking, and contextual reasoning based video interpretation method for rapid productivity analysis of construction Operations.. Automation in Construction, 20(8), pp. 1211-1226.

Johnson, R. E. & Laepple, E. S., 2003. Digital innovation and organizational change in design practice.. s.l.:CRS Center, Texas A & M University.

Nath, T. et al., 2015. Productivity improvement of precast shop drawings generation through BIM-based process reengineering.. Automation in Construction, pp. 54-68.

Sanvido, V., 2008. BIM Drives Lean Construction Management. Tradeline Lean Management Processes Conference.

Smith, D., 2007. An introduction to building information modeling.. Journal of Building Information Modeling, pp. 12-14.

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