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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