In terms of innovation, BIM for smart buildings is leading the way and it is all set to change the way buildings are operated. “Imagine” you reach the car park of a building that has a number plate recognition technology installed to make sure that only employee or registered guests have access to the parking lot.

Upon entering the building, an access management system integrated with smart lifts, identifies which floor you are booked to visit and directs you to the lift which will get there first – saving your time and energy. When you reach that particular floor, the system will allow you to enter only in the meeting room you have permission for; ultimately reducing the risk of information breaches.

BIM is changing the entire landscape for developers and construction, architects and contractors alike and making the construction industry smart. The notion that buildings can be transformed with help of connected devices has received more than expected acceptance across the construction industry, globally. But for contractors and construction professionals, inclusion and integration of newer technology with BIM is a challenge which they need to address at the planning stage itself. BIM adoption needs heavy investments to be made across the entire supply chain, which particular becomes an area of concern especially for contractors bidding for a project under tight cost pressure.

Contractors delivering against a contract always get caught up between shrinking deadlines, cost pressure and the introduction of new technology. Ultimately, they have to get the building done within stipulated timelines and that too – within budgets. Smaller contractors, if are required to incorporate the requirements of BIM systems for wiring, integrated systems and specific hardware – from the start; the entire gamut will become a financial nightmare.

BIM for projects with bigger budgets

On one hand, where BIM service providers are working towards a BRE BIM Level 2 Certification to show their ‘BIM Readiness’; it comes as a bitter truth that BIM is used only for high-end projects with gigantic budgets. May be because, for designing and installing BIM systems at the construction stage a completely different set of skills is required, and hence expecting it to happen overnight is mere foolishness.

However, whichever activity is initiated for large scale projects, eventually drills down to the rest of the industry over time. It means that construction companies of all sizes have to seriously consider how the growing demand of BIM will affect them, and how are they planning to equip themselves with the expertise and support needed when their customers start asking whether they can offer BIM solutions or not?

Benefits of Building Information Modeling (BIM)

First of all let’s understand and refresh our knowhow on why BIM is considered so essential for the building construction industry? What are the most common and known benefits of BIM to architects, general contractors, design engineers and EPC firms?

  • Saving on technology costs enhanced productivity and improved communication.
  • BIM system also ensures the safety of the building and even restricts visitors going in inappropriate areas of the building while under construction.
  • It also improves fire detection and suppression, while also ascertains that a single dashboard helps facility management teams to oversee construction activities carried on across the site.
  • BIM consulting benefits in developing management strategies, and efficient decision making.

BIM makes all this possible by collecting, consolidating and presenting data points generated by smart sensors and systems throughout the build, and presenting all of it to a single command point. BIM connects the entire building so as to provide actionable insights into the data flowing in from smart systems.

With a BIM execution plan (BEP) in place engineers, architects, consultants and manufacturers involved in building construction and infrastructure development projects can connect all sorts of dots. So if the weather sensors notify of rains, expect waters in the parking lot of your site. If the access systems have reported an unauthorized entry attempts, CCTV would automatically locate the incident to give security teams, footage of the location. Notification of energy consumption from the roof will ensure that motion sensors would automatically switch off electricity in rooms that are not in use. And this is not it. For providing all these, where the construction companies can charge a premium, it is a blessing for occupants of the buildings as well.

BIM for future-proofing

A BIM system, though integrated, proves effective only if it is not only focused on present, but also has an eye on the future of the a building. Because technology tends to change fast, construction companies should stay abreast the kind of demands ever evolving technology changes can bring to them. Buildings are meant to last for decades, and hence investment made in building management systems should be made with a focus on its longevity. What seems to be the best system for a job today; might not perform in an optimum manner a few years from now, especially if we consider the pace of technological innovations today.

The tools and techniques used to protect residential, commercial, and multi-purpose buildings, and most importantly the infrastructure like bridges, dams, highways, airports etc., are changing too fast. Modern construction companies with help of BIM consultants should consider a futuristic approach to new installations and upgrades.

Emergence of Internet of things (IOT)

With emergence and advent of internet of things (IoT) in construction and facility management arena, building-wide system integration has gained immense traction than ever before. A convergence of building, specialty, business and information systems can be attained, eliminating redundant, isolated systems managed under various vendors and communication channels.

The amalgamation of these isolated systems will allow entities to connect, share and optimize data across technology platforms. This will also eliminate proprietary systems and encourage use of one common communication language. And all these would result hopefully in a holistic systems environment, managed on a unified and intelligent infrastructure. Integration of building systems can build a future-ready network environment with the ability to grow simultaneously with technology advancements.

Smart buildings is all about data

BIM makes data from smart buildings, usable. But to reap benefits of BIM construction industry will have to make the hard infrastructure work to their benefit. Dedicated wiring will be required to lay for information exchange and several building will have to get redesigned around the systems to be deployed. All this is likely to take a toll on the supply chain of construction companies. Engaging with new suppliers, unlearning conventional logics, learning new installation techniques and adjusting their timelines accordingly will be the first task.

Traditionally, a construction was all about breaking down the project in smaller packages/tasks and appointing subcontractors to execute individual tasks for the build project.  However, with buildings getting smarter, greener and more interconnected; construction companies are seeking guidance from BIM consultants that provide integrated packages.

Construction firms now need construction experts who can not only handle just design and installation, but security of the building or infrastructure in a holistic manner. If a solution covers the entire building, contractors too will have to do the same. Also, instead of employing lots of subcontractors and running from pillars to posts to manage them against your standards, it’s more convenient running an integrated BIM model reduce the workload – considerably.

“Since Stonehenge, architects have always been at the cutting edge of technology. And you can’t separate technology from the humanistic and spiritual content of a building.” – Norman Foster