What should I do for BIM

What you absolutely have to consider when converting to BIM

The introduction of the new model-based planning method Building Information Modeling (BIM) is much more than an introduction to new software. In addition to the appropriate tools, new structures must also be introduced in the company, and personnel and IT capacities must be built up, which in particular in large companies will result in far-reaching and long-term upheavals.

Several aspects are important when introducing BIM

All relevant aspects have to be scrutinized: The software, the hardware, the network, the communication, external partners - and last but not least, your own know-how. Every BIM introduction is individual and takes place differently because every planning office has a different business model, specific technical and structural conditions, different skills, priorities and objectives - and thus also different options for using BIM. Nevertheless, there are basic procedures and steps when entering or switching to BIM, which you can use as a guide and which you can apply in a modified form to your own, individual office situation.

Define targets before introducing BIM

Only those who know their destination will arrive. Before introducing BIM, you should therefore in-office targets be stipulated: What expectations are placed on the BIM process? Is it the gain in order in planning and data management, the avoidance of data redundancies and the reduction of search times? Is it the more precise prediction and better coordination of costs and times or the automated model evaluation for quantity investigations and room books? Or is it the storage of technical data in the model for later building use?

At least as important as geometrical and temporal collision checks or the rationalization of planning processes and the saving of planning times and costs are likely to be for specialist planners Improvement of the quality of planning services thanks to closer links between planning and calculation, the more economical design of systems and the gain in planning security.

One should pay attention to one realistic target definitionthat does not overwhelm existing office resources and distinguishes between short-term and long-term goals. With regard to the cross-office and software-wide use of BIM (Big / Open BIM), it is also necessary to coordinate the BIM goals between project partners and the client or the most important customer groups.

The goal definition should be a Analysis phase connect. The actual state of the office should be recorded and compared with the target target definition. Any differences that come to light then define the area that is to be improved by the BIM planning method. The focus of the inventory analysis should be placed on the company's employees, the tools used and the workflows, processes and standards that have been established over the years.

What do the employees have to be able to do?

Employees are the potential of a company and contribute to it Know-how, their cooperation and motivation are essential to the success of the BIM switch. You are at the center of this and must therefore be comprehensively informed, trained and prepared for the coming changes in advance, also in order to reduce possible fears about the coming changes in advance. Conversely, employees must be ready to question familiar processes, accept new challenges, constantly learn and be open to new technology. Above all, they should have in-depth BIM and software knowledge.

This know-how must either be acquired through new, BIM-experienced employees and internal trainings can be acquired. Or you have to fall back on training courses offered by organizations, associations, and in some cases also private providers. Since there are no training standards, the quality of the training methods and content should be carefully examined beforehand. The costs of the mostly multi-day courses are between 2,000 and 5,000 euros per person. Universities also teach BIM, but at different levels, so that graduates bring different BIM know-how with them.

The decisive factor is the choice of BIM managerwho is usually also the BIM coordinator or BIM manager in smaller offices: He forms a kind of hub for communication and data exchange in a BIM project. He is responsible for the coordination and comparison of the various models of the planning partners, he defines the methods of coordination, brings together the various sub-models as required, checks their consistency, etc.

At the same time he should also Employee motivation keep an eye on: Since BIM learning curves never rise steadily, phases of disillusionment and stagnation are inevitable. Then those responsible for BIM have to counteract a human weakness in particular: If something does not work immediately or if it seems a bit more complicated than what you have done before, you are happy to return to apparently proven work equipment and methods, for example the 2D view quickly made a change discussed with the client and not in the 3-D model. That is why those responsible for BIM not only have to explain the relationships and the consequences of their own actions again and again, but also constantly motivate them so that everyone stays at it.

Software has to meet certain requirements

BIM is not software, but there is no BIM without suitable software. Software is "BIM-capable" when it meets certain requirements. In the case of CAD programs, this includes, among other things, parameterizable 3-D objects with associated alphanumeric object information, building structuring, automatic plan derivation and evaluations as well as an IFC interface for data exchange. Most of these requirements are met by many CAD programs used in building services planning offices, but not all. In some cases, certain modules or interfaces have to be purchased or complete programs have to be exchanged.

But even if the software is BIM-compatible - not all users necessarily work in a BIM-compliant manner. The Software must also be mastered and basic rules for BIM modeling, structuring, detailing, etc. must be known and adhered to. This is important because insufficient software knowledge hinders a switch to the BIM planning method and can even endanger it. Therefore, an analysis of the current situation must provide clarity as to which knowledge is available and where deficits can still be made up through training.

Since the BIM planning method both expands the functional scope of individual programs and creates new software products, for example for BIM model testing, coordination or evaluation, employees have to continue their education and training more often than before. If a switch is necessary because the software is not BIM-compliant, the introduction of BIM must be preceded by a software selection process and the market offer evaluated, for example on the basis of market overviews or trade fairs.

After the selection, the new software in the company introduced, which can involve several days of training and an introductory phase of several weeks before it can be used productively. This process and the lead time must be taken into account when planning the BIM changeover, especially if the BIM entry is linked to a specific project.

In addition to the software, the hardware, network and communication structure should also be examined. Not only current BIM software, but also larger BIM projects can quickly bring outdated computers to their knees due to the amount of data alone. Any necessary updating of the IT infrastructure should therefore be taken into account in terms of both time and money.

Internal and external processes change with BIM

Having to change, adapt or even throw away many of the established and proven habits, workflows and processes that have been established in the company over the years, is probably one of the greatest challenges of the BIM switch. Due to the need to exchange information in a coordinated manner within the office and to work more closely and intensively with external project partners, internal and external processes inevitably change, especially in terms of communication and cooperation.

What is required are no longer processes that are exclusively tailored to one's own office, but rather work steps that are networked and coordinated with the project partners and are based on BIM standards. They should serve to define certain qualities in exchange, communication and coordination, to check them regularly and thus to enable disciplined and reliable cooperation.

This requires uniform rules for the creation, transfer, use and management of data, because this is the only way to avoid unnecessary activities such as repeatedly entering identical data or searching for information. Both standardized processes and manufacturer and software-independent data standards are required for this. Several international and national drafts of BIM guidelines are currently dealing with the standardization of qualities and processes, for example ISO 19 650 [(Draft): Organization of data on buildings - Information management with BIM - Part 1: Concepts and principles. Berlin: Beuth Verlag, April 2017] and VDI 2552 [VDI 2552 Part 3 Building Information Modeling - Quantities and Controlling. Berlin: Beuth Verlag, January 2017].

On the one hand, BIM offers the opportunity for companies to use the changeover to question their previous work processes and procedures and, if necessary, to reorganize them. On the other hand, it is neither sensible nor realistic to replace what has grown and proven over many years with something new overnight. Processes in the company should only be adapted to the BIM planning method gradually and only in those places where it is necessary.

How can the switch be implemented in concrete terms?

The actual process of the switch must also be planned and all employees involved. To do this, building on the objectives and results of the Target and actual comparisons a approximate time table to be developed. In this way, all employees find out how the changeover should take place in terms of time and content: Which software is bought, installed and used when? Who is trained, when, for how long and on which software? When does the first BIM project start and who takes on which tasks?

The important thing is with one small pilot project It is best to start with Little / Closed BIM: A single-family house or a small commercial project that requires not only floor plans but also schemes, sections, dimensions, quantities and calculations, are suitable for this. A test run with a small, already completed project can also be useful. So you can get involved in the new way of working in a more relaxed manner and you can compare old with new. Under no circumstances should you change in the middle of a project, choose a project that is too tightly calculated or that is too complex.

The next steps consist of the actual, practical implementation - a process that takes time and - depending on the company and BIM level - can take several months to years. Gathering experience as well as continuous further development and improvement in the context of project work are part of it. The experience gained in the first BIM project should be used to start the next, which can be more complex and already designed as a Big / Open BIM project.

Important experiences and work processes should be documented in parallel. Only in this way can BIM office standards be successively optimized and permanently established. Risk factors should also be taken into account when converting to BIM: A BIM manager can sometimes get sick, software can sometimes not work, data exchange can prove difficult and so on. Then a talent for improvisation is required - even better, you have a plan B.

Where can I find information and help?

Anyone who wants to introduce BIM can make good use of the know-how of experienced colleagues or experts in addition to information. While there is now an oversupply of BIM basic information, you can find BIM introduction in the company, except in individual chapters of standard works (e.g. "Building Information Modeling. Technological Basics and Industrial Practice" or "BIM Guide for Germany"), Useful only in training courses, seminars, webinars or lectures.

Since large, interdisciplinary planning companies usually develop their own, individual BIM changeover concepts themselves, the training offers are mostly aimed at small and medium-sized offices. Project and working groups with partner offices and colleagues have also proven themselves, because everyone benefits from each other's know-how and you can support each other with problems. In addition, with the help of a joint BIM introduction, important BIM basic rules can be practiced: cooperation and coordination mechanisms, a continuous exchange of information and partnership-based cooperation within the team.

Opportunities for exchange and advice on the Internet are also offered by blogs such as bimundumbimherum.wordpress.com or www.bim-me-up.com. BIM regional groups (BIM clusters) also enable an exchange of experiences and networking with one another (www.buildingsmart.de/bim-regional).

Another option are external BIM service providers such as www.bimwelt.de, www.hochtief-vicon.de, www.stabiplan.de or www.vrame.com. If they are commissioned accordingly, they can prepare and accompany the BIM conversion in the company.

However, success goals should be defined very precisely beforehand and measures should be clearly documented, because the temporary purchase of BIM expert knowledge has its price and is only available for a limited time.

The employees are the key to success

The introduction of BIM is basically a management task for office and project managers. The key to success, however, lies with the employees. Ultimately, they determine success or failure with their knowledge, their motivation, their commitment and dedication. BIM is not free and BIM is teamwork. That is why every single one is challenged and every single one has to get involved.

Consistency is also important: once you have decided on BIM for a project, you should stick to it consistently and not go two-pronged from the beginning or in the middle of it "to be on the safe side". Perseverance is also crucial: you have to stick with it, even when it gets difficult or hectic.

The most important principle when switching to BIM is: Better today than tomorrow! Anyone who joins today gains a valuable technological advantage with each additional day, which can be decisive tomorrow in the competition for projects and orders.