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BIM Data, or Data as the Basis for Creating Investments in BIM Technology

12 December 2018 | Weronika Masternak | bim big data

The basis of BIM technology is the effective use of available data and making further business decisions based on them. Find out how Big Data affects the building process and how it affects the effective management of a building after commissioning.

From the article you will learn:

  • what do we call an innovation based on data;
  • what data is being created during BIM designing;
  • what data is necessary in the investment process;
  • what are the benefits of using data on a construction site.

With the growing popularity of BIM, in the industry more and more is being talked about using the Big Data in BIM Technology and its incredible impact on the liquidity of investments. In fact, however, the division between BIM and Big Data is artificial, completely forced – probably due to the existing trend of ”discovering” innovations and being a trendsetter in the industry. That’s because the basis for the proper operation of BIM technology BIM is the effective use of data and making business decisions based on them.

Choosing the path of innovation

As it was mentioned, organisations compete to become pioneers of new trends and they try to create strategies and plans based on innovation. As a consequence, the phenomenon of Data-Driven Innovation (DDI), or innovations based on data that are the only one created on the basis of collected information (e.g. descriptive, exploratory, inferential, predictive, causal, mechanistic) was created. DDI appears in many industries and now it becomes popular in the construction industry. All innovations in the Architecture Engineering Construction (AEC) industry, created on the basis of data, increase the productivity, resource efficiency, competitiveness of business entities, as well as improve the well-being of the members of society and meet their expectations.

The BIM technology and the BIM object created using it, allow for creating a digital ”clone” of the planned project and its efficient management after making it available for use. It is not possible to correctly implement BIM technology for an investment without analysing and using data. It is thanks to data that you can control a specific construction project at every stage of the life cycle. Big, variable and diverse data sets create the so-called Big Data concept, which offers many opportunities for the AEC industry.

Constructing buildings with Big Data

Using Big Data makes it possible to create various types of buildings, from residential buildings, schools, to large skyscrapers, resources and other materials for which are selected, so that they are:

  1. in line with needs/expectations determined on the basis of market, user groups analyses;
  2. adapted to the prevailing conditions (e.g. hygiene and health-related; environmental protection; protection against noise, vibrations, energy savings; adequate thermal insulation of partitions);
  3. compliant with the requirements (e.g. design/fire/everyday use/use safety).

The basis for the existence of models developed by designers is their integration with information provided by representatives of various industries. Hence, the models contain time/price-related parameters; construction schedules; cost estimates, as well as direct information from the suppliers of construction materials/products. Taking care of the up-to-dateness and consistency of this information in BIM objects may cause them to become a tool to improve the investment management. An orderly and correct product information in the models and the use of cloud creates the opportunity for cooperation of specialists from every corner of the world (they gain access to the same BIM objects and data at any time).

What data is being created during BIM designing?

A huge amount of data is being created every day (2.5 exabytes a day!). Especially in the construction industry, data is generated from many sources – both by the members of the investment process and the machines, devices, sensors and electronic equipment used, that are implemented at various stages of the investment life cycle. The data regarding the project already appear at the moment the first outlines of the idea are being created, when the idea appears in the mind of the investor or designer. It is a time of the first arrangements concerning:

  • the appearance of the building (designing and modelling its interior/exterior);
  • the place of its construction within the set space and its influence on it;
  • the role it will play for the society and the economy.

By using historical data (e.g. related to construction risks noticed in the past during the execution similar projects), it is possible to avoid problematic/crisis situations that may slow down the construction process or cause the closure of the entire construction. The first discussions and opinions of the stakeholders or other members of the society, from which you can also draw conclusions for choosing the right direction of the investment development, occur at the design stage already.

Information used in facility management

During the actual construction, additional information may appear, e.g. regarding the working time of people and machines on the construction site; the technical wear of used equipment and its impact on the closest environment; the method of using the logistics infrastructure (it is worth mentioning here that keeping the records of use of the logistics infrastructure reduces the risk of requests delays or overlapping). Thanks to the optimised sensors used within the structure being created, you can obtain data that – after transferring to the Building Information Management (BIM) systems – affect the quality and quantity of activities regarding the facility management (FM), e.g. maintenance, modernisation, demolition. All planned changes are introduced into the system, and in the next step are subject to analysis and calculations concerning, among others:

  • security and risks;
  • profitability with regard to potential costs/implementation time;
  • ergonomics of the proposed solutions;
  • public utility and meaningfulness for end users.

The whole documentation or information on the structure and its space is being updated and is located in one place – in the BIM models.

Data necessary in the investment process

The process of creating a building is a complicated endeavour, requiring various types of resources and data in the form of e.g. preliminary 2D models, applied 3D elements and detailed information about them; project documentation (schedules, balance sheets, budget), predictions and analyses. To avoid project inaccuracies, all drawn up data should be connected in a logical and controlled manner. A lot of attention is being paid to the BIM models of physical objects that – in addition to preserving their real appearance – also contain detailed information on costs, deadlines or technical requirements. Thanks to the fact that all members of the investment process have access to the same BIM models, the problem of outdatedness, ambiguity or information uncertainty disappears.

In addition to the data contained in the BIM models, that can be subject to human checking, as well as machine reading, there is also unstructured information. This is all the information that can not be sorted and catalogued using an algorithm, and the analysis of which can have a positive impact on the investment process. Found among them can be text documents, multifaceted reports, spreadsheets, PDF files, images, photos, videos, messages. Such data is being generated during the creation of an investment, but sometimes it is being wrongly omitted. It allows you to better understand the idea and processes taking place during the creation of an investment (anticipate events, take advantage of opportunities, react to risky situations) and – above all – optimise the schedule and budget of the entire project.

The benefits of using data on the construction site

Analysing and drawing conclusions from the BIM models and data closely related to the processes within the construction gives many benefits. To a large extent, it is the right interpretation of information that contributes to keeping deadlines and completing projects in accordance with the guidelines. Thanks to data you can, among other things:

  • use your construction materials and plan further orders more effectively;
  • adapt employees schedules to the project needs. This involves setting the time of their work and breaks, so that there are always appropriate specialists on construction site;
  • optimise resource efficiency at the construction site, avoiding wastefulness;
  • determine the most advantageous route for vehicles in terms of, among others, route length, fuel consumption, drive time;
  • estimate the maintenance time of machines/devices or the moment of their replacement with new ones.

By controlling and optimising the investment works based on up-to-date data, it is much easier to make decisions that affect the further development of the enterprise. In addition to the ability to make well-considered decisions, the information gives a chance to reduce the project risks, avoid penalties or delays. All members of the investment process have permanent access to project information and it is the project manager's task to ensure that they are up-to-date and accurate. It is mainly the manager that should make the team aware of the possibility (and even necessity) of asking questions in order to dispel any doubts. Only this way there is a chance to reduce the errors caused by the human factor.

The construction industry is one of the fastest growing and generating huge amounts of data. It is here where risky and expensive decisions are being made, and even one mistake can cause heavy losses. In order to avoid material losses and financial errors, it is worth relying on information at every stage of the investment life cycle.

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