Showing posts with label BIM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BIM. Show all posts

MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 3 Methodology

The author wants to proof with qualitative data that projects managed using BIM achieve better outcomes than comparable ones not using them. Factors influencing the success of projects are usually more qualitative than quantitative (Fortune and White, 2006) and that social forces have a great effect on the implementation of new technologies (Williams and Edge, 1996) and on the success of projects with complex inter-organisational structures (Maurer, 2010 and Kadefors, 2004).

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Test on Running an IFC Based Clash Detection using Revit

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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.4 Chapter Summary

The literature review shows a clear tendency towards major project complexity (Chan et al., 2004; Williams, 2002; Alshawi and Ingirige, 2003). It also shows a linkage between complex projects and the existence of inter-organizational associations to accomplish these projects (Maurer, 2010).A second linkage has been drawn between inter-organizational associations and the need for “better integration, cooperation, and coordination of construction project teams” (Cicmil & Marshall 2005, cited in Maunula, 2008).

The unprecedented level of communication, collaboration and efficiency that BIM allows (Lee, 2008) seems to draw the last linkage on this chain: we have more complex projects that require inter-organizational associations; these associations require better coordination and cooperation; BIM promises to allow this increased coordination and collaboration. Ignoring BIM from the Project Management point of view seems to the author as a big mistake.

Lastly, we have seen how the industry requires a shift from a document based approach to communicating information to what many have chosen to name as Project Integrated Databases. The scholarly literature and statements from BIM supporting bodies suggest that BIM could help on this shift from documents to PIDs, for its nature is the “creation and maintenance of an integrated collaborative database of multi-dimensional information”, as we have seen in the definition of BIM on Chapter 1.

We have also seen a list of 10 potential benefits that PMs can get by implementing BIM in the projects (Table 2.1). BIM can thus be the catalyst that will enable Project Managers to reengineer the processes to better integrate the different stakeholders involved in modern construction projects.

There are and there will be challenges to the acceptance and implementation of BIM. Some of them are inherent to the new associations between stakeholders needed. The correct implementation of BIM requires “understanding and developing inter-organizational work practices” (Harty, 2005, cited in Maunula, 2008). This requirement for the implementation of BIM could be the catalyst for an overall shift towards better, more collaborative processes that could improve drastically the results and the productivity of the companies working on the AEC Industry.

The intention of this dissertation is thus to analyze the benefits of BIM as a Project Management tool and to explore in which ways and to what extent BIM will help the implementation of better processes to successfully deliver complex construction projects and which are the main challenges ahead. The methodology to achieve these goals will be explained on the following chapter.



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Clash Detection Using Autodesk Navisworks Manage

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Clash Detection Using Tekla BIM Sight

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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.3.2– BIM: more than just another IOIS

The AEC Industry is based on the collaboration of several parties during the project life-cycle, and the success of projects depends on exchanging information between stakeholders on a timely manner. IOIS aim to increase the sharing of information between partners. Some years back, researchers promised that IOIS would be used “to enhance construction project documentation and control and to revolutionize the way in which a construction project team conducts business” (Nitithamyong and Skibniewski, 2004: p. 492).

Despite the benefits brought by the extensive use of IOIS, these systems are still lacking on the aspect of integration. The author has the experience of working with some of this IOIS (shared FTP portals in USA and document management systems in Germany and Spain) and they all seem to be mostly used just as online repositories of documents that all stakeholders can access. Without disregarding what the existing IOIS have accomplished – reduction of email based communication, safe storage of documents, improved communication, etc - it seems that another shift in the way things are done is needed.

BIM could be the key approach to adopt to ensure this integration and shift from the document paradigm to the Integrated Database paradigm happens. On this line of thought, the International Alliance for Interoperability [IAI] has been developing since 1995 a standard for sharing building and construction industry data. This standard has been named Industry Foundation Classes [IFC] and it follows on the work done with STEP for Product Models. Although IAI’s mission is to “support open BIM through the life cycle” (IAI, 2010a), their holistic approach to BIM encompasses many other aspects of the project delivery process. Their Information Delivery Manual [IDM] (IAI, 2010b) considers, in addition to the IFC] standards, a methodology to support the implementation of BIM, addressing the business processes and information exchange requirements.


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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.3.1– From documents to Project Integrated Databases

As we have seen, there is a need for better integration of project teams (Manaula 2008), one way to achieve this integration is by the proper use of Inter-Organizational Information Systems [IOIS] (Ibid.).


Figure 2.3 Use of e-business solutions in the EU industries
(adapted from e-business Watch, 2006)


“The construction and facilities industry has historically used a document-based way of working, through drawings and reports, and has communicated through ‘unstructured’ text such as letters and emails” (BSI, 2010, p. 2).

A document based way of working means that through the project life cycle there is an “unstructured stream of text or graphic entities” (BSI, 2010, p. 2). This unstructured stream is a challenge for better integrated practices. The information exchanged at the document level is generally “fuzzy, unformatted or difficult to interpret” (Ajam et. al. 2010: p. 763).

A key aspect is to understand what means “proper use” of the IOIS mentioned in the beginning of this section. Ajam et al. (2010) argue that the proper use is that of going from document sharing practices to share information at the object or element level. The proper use of these IOIS is thus the one that allows the much needed integration of project teams and the switch from the mentioned unstructured stream of entities to an integrated and interrelated use of information, what has been named by several authors as the Project Integrated Database [PID] paradigm.


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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.3 – BIM and Information Management

The process on how information is exchanged is thus seen as a key aspect for successful implementation of BIM. This exchange of information is mostly done through ICT. A study shows that the construction industry has had a much lower integration of ICT and e-business processes than other industries in the European Union [EU] (e-Business Watch, 2006) ICT and e-business are generally used much less than in the other industries, as it can be seen on figure 2.3. In countries like Spain, according to the study by Bayo-Moriones and Lera-López (2007), the Building Industry is “behind the rest of sectors in the adoption rate of several ICT” (Ibid. P. 363).

The low rate of adoption of ICT compared to other industries is a challenge for the implementation of better ICT processes like BIM. Nevertheless, a bigger problem for this implementation might be the way the construction industry has traditionally worked. We will see on the following subsection how the change needed embraces the overall approach towards ICT and not just a shift from CAD to BIM.


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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.2.2 The BIM Potential

When people work together on a project, communicating specific characteristics of the project amongst the different parties involved requires documentation of these characteristics (Lee, 2008). Traditionally, this documentation was done on a paper or document basis (BSI, 2010). BIM takes the traditional paper-based tools of construction projects, puts them on a virtual environment and allows a level of efficiency, communication and collaboration that exceeds those of traditional construction processes (Lee, 2008).

Moreover “the coordination of complex project systems is perhaps the most popular application of BIM at this time. It is an ideal process to develop collaboration techniques and a commitment protocol among the team members.” (Grilo and Jardim-Goncalves, 2010 : p. 524).

BIM can be of great use on all stages of the project life-cycle. It has many dimensions: it can be used by the owner to understand project needs; by the design team to analyze, design and develop the project; by the contractor to manage the construction of the project and by the facility manager [FM] during operation and decommissioning phases (Grilo and Jardim-Goncalves, 2010).


Aouad et al. (2006) defined this multidimensional capacity of BIM as nD modelling, for it allows adding an almost infinite number of dimensions to the Building Model. This “n” dimensions can be seen in Figure 2.2 that shows what BSI (2010) understands as a complete BIM.

Project Management has a wide scope of services or dimensions; most of them, like managing Quality, Time, Risks, Procurement and Integrations (PMI, 2004) are dimensions that can be integrated into a BIM, as seen in Figure 2.2.. Although most BIM projects do not yet use BIM for all dimensions (BSI, 2010), it is on this nD understanding of BIM that the author is interested, for it is the approach that makes BIM a relevant tool for Project Managers.

As we have seen, very few PM scholars have studied BIM from the PM point of view. Other than on scientific Journals, an article from Allison (2010) is maybe the one that addresses the BIM potential as a PM Tool more directly. Allison describes “10 reasons why project manager should champion 5D BIM” (Table 2.1). 5D BIM is traditionally understood as BIM that includes, besides the 3D model, Scheduling information (the 4th D) and information for estimating the project from the model (the 5th D). Although the article is from an employee of a BIM software vendor, and the potential of BIM for PM might be slightly exaggerated, the list of advantages for PM practitioners is worth considering. These advantages are compiled in Table 2.1, and should be seen as potential ways in which BIM can benefit Project Managers.


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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.2.1 The BIM Background

“Traditional representation methods used by architects and engineers for hundreds of years, such as scale drawings, renderings, and three dimensional scale models, contain only a small part of the information needed to interpret and assess the quality of the design” (Khemlani et al., 1998).

The first Computer Aided Design [CAD] application was invented in 1963 by Ivan Sutherland (Broquetas, 2010a). Widespread adoption of this new technology in the AEC industry did not happen in a few years, it took decades, and when it happened the Adoption of CAD software in AEC firms was progressive, and it is nowadays widely spread in virtually all architectural firms (Broquetas, 2010b). Some resisted the adoption of the CAD systems, and others have argued that CAD poses some challenges to creative design (Lawson, 2002). Nevertheless, in 2009, the result of a study and poll amongst AEC industry leaders, showed CAD as the greatest advance in construction history (Architect’s Journal, 2009).

Despite the relevance taken by CAD in the AEC industry, Khemnlani et al. (1998) argued that CAD simply imported the traditional representation methods used for hundreds of years by architects and engineers into the computer environment, and with that, the informational deficiencies that these methods imply were incorporated into the new way of designing and documenting projects. They foresaw the need for a more intelligent way of documenting projects that “will embody some of the knowledge added to the interpretation of drawings by the human observers” (Khemnlani et al., 1998 : p. 50).


While the AEC industry was slowly adopting CAD, the product development and manufacturing industry [PDM] adopted it much faster and the use in this industry rapidly evolved into a modelling process (Lee, 2008). This modelling approach raised the need for the PDM industry to develop practices of better integration of multidisciplinary teams. Due to this need, “since 1984 the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been working on the development of a comprehensive standard for the electronic exchange of product data between computer-based product life-cycle systems” (Pratt, 2001 : p. 102). This standard is named STandard for the Exchange of Product model data [STEP] and is included in the ISO 10303: Automation systems and integration, Product data representation and exchange (Ibid.) and its goal is to “develop common representations of complex products for communicating information between CAD and other design applications” (Eastman and Siabiris, 1995 : p. 284)

In the AEC Industry, the idea of integrated product models for buildings, or Building Product Models [BPM] has been around for many years with one of its pioneers being Charles Eastman (Eastman and Siabiris, 1995; Eastman, 1999) who has used the term since the late 70s of the 20th century. The integrated approach was for the first time named Building Information Modelling [BIM] by Autodesk employee Phil Bernstein (Wikipedia, 2010) although many argue that the term is essentially the same as BPM (Yessios, 2004), so Eastman should be given the “father of BIM” title.
The concept of BIM is thus not so new, but thanks to the computational speed and memory available today (Yessios, 2004) and the strong push from software vendors (Holzer, 2007) the interest in BIM has raised very importantly in recent years both in scholarly circles (Figure 1.3) as well as in the general public (Figure 1.4).

BIM is, as it will be seen in the following section, a set of tools and processes with the potential to change the AEC Industry in the same way the modelling approach changed the manufacturing sector. Both technological requirements and commercial interests are also aligned to allow widespread implementation of BIM. With this alignment of factors, the author of this dissertation sees no better time to analyze its potential benefits for the AEC Industry.


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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.2 – The role of BIM in improving the delivery of construction projects

Relevant literature about BIM will be critically reviewed in this section to assess its potential use as cooperation, integration and coordination set of tools and methods for complex projects with inter-organizational associations.

Despite the numerous potential barriers reported to the inter-organizational use of BIM (Fox and Hietanen, 2007), the relevance of BIM for the AEC industry can be better understood having an overview at the background of this technology. We will analyze the literature on the background of BIM and later we will review the potential benefits of this technology.


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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.1 – Project Complexity and Inter-Organizational Collaboration

Master Thesis. Sub-Chapter 2.1 Project Complexity and Inter-Organizational Collaboration
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
A project is “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result” (PMI, 2004: p. 5). Defining what a Complex Project is may not be that easy, but some attempts have been made. Simon (1982, cited in Williams 2002) defines a complex system as “one made up of a large number of parts that interact in a non-simple way”. Morris and Hough (1987, cited in Williams, 2002) analyzing complex projects state that they “demand an exceptional level of management, and that the application of conventional systems developed for ordinary projects have been found to be inappropriate for complex projects”.

Construction Projects tend to be more and more complex (Chan et al., 2004 and Williams, 2002). This is due to an increase in the use of CE (Williams 1999) and the increase of number of stakeholders and PM tools and methods used (Bosch-Rekveldt et al. 2010).

Baccarini (1996) mentioned organizational complexity as a key defining element of complex projects. On the other hand, Williams (1999) defined project complexity as characterised by two dimensions, with two sub-dimensions each (Figure 2.1).

Complex Projects require inter-organizational associations (Maurer, 2010). To ensure success in inter-organizational project ventures, trust between the different project partners is acknowledged as a key success factor (Maurer, 2010 and Kadefors, 2004). Because of the nature of work in these inter-organizational ventures there is “highly recognized need for better integration, cooperation, and coordination of construction project teams” (Cicmil & Marshall 2005, cited in Maunula, 2008).


Figure 2.1 Dimensions of Project Complexity (after Williams, 1999: p.271)

Inter-organizational information systems [IOIS] are one possible way to cope with the integration, cooperation, and coordination challenges faced in construction (Maunula, 2008). IOIS are sometimes referred to as Web-based Project Management Systems [WPMS] (Forcada et al., 2007; Nitithamyong and Skibniewski, 2004), Web-Collaborative Extranets [WCEs] or Document Management Systems [DMS] (Ajam et al. 2010). This research will use the term IOIS for it seems more generic and able to encompass all these different nomenclatures while highlighting the multi party collaborative nature of their use.

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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 2.- Literature Review

Due to the scope of this dissertation, three main topics were identified, and relevant literature for each of them has been analyzed. The topics are:
  • Project complexity and inter-organizational collaboration
  • The role of BIM in improving the delivery of construction projects
  • The current status of BIM and other ICT in the AEC Industry
Literature for each of these topics will be critically reviewed in the following sections. On the final summary of this chapter, links between the literatures will be drawn and conclusions from these links will be used to design the research methodology and to suggest further topics for research out of the scope of this dissertation.

Let’s start with the first topic for it has a wider scope and will help us understand the overall framework in which BIM has a role to play and the gaps in current practice that could be bridged by the correct implementation of BIM.

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BIM Management Postgraduate Course in Barcelona in 2014

BIM Education in Barcelona, and I'll be one of the teachers!
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BIM Related Free Live Feeds from Autodesk University 2013

Free Live BIM related lectures from Autodesk University 2013.
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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 1.3- Research Question and Objectives

On the previous sections we have seen that the implementation of BIM is not homogeneous in all countries. We have also noted that despite the increase in literature related to BIM in recent years (Table 1.2 and Figure 1.3) PM scholars have ignored BIM as a tool to be considered in PM research.

Considering the increased complexity of construction projects mentioned on the first section of this chapter, any tools that help optimize the design and construction process should be analyzed if they help practitioners cope with this increased project complexity. On the other hand, PM scholars have for too long ignored the study of BIM (Table 1.2), despite its potential benefits that we will alter see, despite the increased interest by other field’s scholars (Figure 1.3) and by construction professionals in general (Figure 1.4)

The intention of this research is to study BIM from the PM point of view, and to do this, this paper tries to answer the question: “Is BIM a Project Management Tool? How can BIM help Project Managers succeed in delivering complex construction projects”? The author’s intention is to proof based on existing literature and empirical evidence that the answer to the first question is affirmative and that the answer to the second one includes a wide range of ways in which BIM can be a helpful PM Tool.


Parallel and as a consequence to this search for answers, several research objectives are defined:
1. To identify in which aspects is BIM implementation showing more benefits for the delivery of construction projects
2. To compare the benefits of BIM with the role of the Project Manager
3. To define which role should the Project Manager assume within the BIM framework.

The intention of the author is in no way to produce a promotional pamphlet for a specific BIM platform, nor is it to ignore the challenges and shortcomings of BIM platforms. For this reason, another research objective is defined as:
4. To analyze the existing challenges for BIM implementation and estimate future developments that might mitigate these challenges.


Figure 1.4 Google Search Trends for CAD vs. BIM (Google Trends, 2010)


The research methods to answer the research question and objectives will be described in the Methodology chapter of this paper. A key aspect that lead to the definition of the research methodology is the in depth analysis of relevant literature. The following chapter will deal with this topic, since despite the lack of references from the International Journal of Project Management there are plenty of scholars from other related research fields that have analysed the role of BIM (Table 1.2).

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List of Free BIM Object Libraries

Where can you get BIM Content online? Here.
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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 1.2- Problem Definition

BIM is argued to be “a catalyst for change, poised to reduce industry's fragmentation, improve its efficiency/effectiveness and lower the high costs of inadequate interoperability” (Succar, 2009: p. 357). Studies show that there has been an important growth on the use of BIM software in the recent years (AIA, 2009; McGraw-Hill, 2008 and McGraw-Hill, 2010).

In the USA, as of 2008 and according to AIA (2009), 34% of registered AIA members have purchased a BIM software package, percentage that doubles the numbers of 3 years before (Ibid). It is important to remember the definition of BIM used on the previous section comprises not only tools but also the adoption of new processes, so the data expressing “use of BIM” has to be analyzed with caution for it is not clear if it refers only to the use of BIM software or to the holistic approach to BIM that this dissertation is interested in.

Regardless of this difficulty analysing the data, the penetration rates (McGraw-Hill, 2010a) show the relevance that the technology is gaining in some countries. But not all countries embrace it at the same pace. As it can be seen on Figure 1.2, North America is ahead of Europe on BIM adoption rates.


Figure 1.2 BIM Adoption Rates in North America and Europe
After McGraw-Hill, 2010a)

On the other hand, and despite the great increase in Journal Articles about BIM in recent years (Figure 1.3), Project Management Literature has tended to ignore the topic of BIM. Only Bansal (2011) and Benjoaran (2009) mention this concept in the International Journal of Project Management. The only mention found on the Project Management Institute literature –the Project Management Journal and PMI organised Conferences- is a conference paper by Lee (2008) that briefly mentions the possible beneficial outcomes of using BIM from the Project Manager point of view.
BIM is becoming a relevant topic of research in recent years (Figure 1.3) but none of this increase in interest on the topic has arrived to PM specialised literature (Table 1.2). Research is thus needed on the role of BIM as a Project Management [PM] tool. Most of the potential benefits of BIM mentioned on the previous section of this chapter are key aspects of the role of a Project Manager (PMI, 2004), for this reason PM literature should no longer ignore this topic and join other scholars on analyzing the potential benefits of implementing BIM in construction projects.


Figure 1.3 Evolution of the Number of Journal Articles Mentioning BIM


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Splitting Up Revit Models

What criteria would you use to decide if you are going to split or not your Revit Models? And if you decide you are going to do it, how are you going to do it?

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MT - Using BIM as a PM Tool: 1.1- Background

The author of this Master Thesis has always been interested in the implementation of ICT in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction [AEC] Industry. During the last decade, the major shift in ICT for the AEC industry has been the proliferation of Building Information Modelling [BIM] in industrial and academic circles as the “new CAD paradigm” (Succar, 2009).

BIM is currently the most common denomination for a new way of approaching the design, construction and maintenance of Buildings. Different authors and commercial firms have chosen to name this new approach in different ways (Table 1.1) but they all refer to the same concept that will be referred always on this dissertation as BIM.

There is not a single definition of what BIM is. Some scholars define it as “a set of interacting policies, processes and technologies generating a methodology to manage the essential building design and project data in digital format throughout the building's life-cycle” (Succar, 2009: p. 357). Other scholars prefer to define it using papers by commercial BIM vendors. Aouad et al. (2006) used the following definition: “building information model (BIM) is a computer model database of building design information, which may also contain information about the building’s construction, management, operations and maintenance” (Graphisoft 2003, cited in Aouad et al., 2006: p. 5). Other software vendors have also stated their own definitions of BIM such as “create and operate on digital databases for collaboration, manage change [...] and capture and preserve information for reuse by additional industry-specific applications” (Autodesk, 2002 : p. 2). For the purpose of this dissertation the author would like to use his own definition of BIM that encompasses the most common accepted views on the topic.

Building Information Modelling [BIM] is the most commonly used term to describe a set of parametric CAD tools and processes for the creation and maintenance of an integrated collaborative database of multi-dimensional information regarding the design, construction and/or operations of a building, with the purpose of improving collaboration between stakeholders, reducing the time needed for documentation of the project and producing more predictable project outcomes.

Table 1.1 Widely used terms related to BIM
(after Succar, 2009 : p. 359)

Although it is sometimes understood that BIM is only the software platform and that all the inter-organizational integrated processes should receive other names (like Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, etc), when referring to BIM in this dissertation, the reader should always understand that BIM refers to the previous definition of tools and processes and never to just the software tools that allow the geometrical modelling and the input of information. It is the understanding of the author, that this holistic definition embraces all the potential of BIM and offers a better understanding of all its scope.

Defining the term though, is not the purpose of this dissertation. As we will see in the following section, despite the potential benefits that we can infer from the previous definition, the implementation of BIM and the perception of its benefits is not equal everywhere (AIA, 2009; McGraw-Hill, 2008 and McGraw-Hill, 2010). This disparity between potential benefits and acceptance is the starting point for our problem definition.

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