Understanding BIM Project Requirements
Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been around for many years now, so we can’t really say it is something new anymore. BIM has been adopted globally and for those countries that have yet to adopt, many have a program agreed upon and a planned date for adoption.
Project Information Requirements
At the start of any project the requirements need to be established by the Appointing Party (i.e., the client), who may appoint a prospective lead appointed party or third party who would be responsible for:
- Establishing the project’s information requirements: Organizational Information Requirement (OIR), Asset Information Requirements (AIR), Project Information Requirements (PIR).
- Establishing the project’s information delivery milestones.
- Establishing the project’s information standards.
- Establishing the project’s information production methods and procedures.
- Establishing the project’s reference information and shared resources.
- Establishing the project’s common data environment.
- Establishing the project’s information protocol.
- Activities for assessment and need.
Figure 1: BIM adoption
Note: The above information is highlighted in the EN ISO 19650-2:2018 and has been listed as an example to help understand what the project’s information requirements could be on a project. This would form what’s referred to as the Exchange/Employers Information Requirements (EIR).
Project BIM Execution Plan
The project team or lead appointed party would establish the delivery teams’ project BIM Execution Plan (BEP) in response to the EIR. To establish how they are going meet all those requirements is highlighted within the EIR.
Who: Do they have the capabilities (company/team/individuals)?
How: Standards to follow (to name a few):
- Software to use
- Coordination and collaboration
- Level of information need (LoD and LoI)
- Asset information requirements
- Classification to be applied
- Health and safety
- Model constraints (i.e., individual model volume)
- File format exchange and delivery
Do those organizations have the necessary capabilities to undertake the project with regards to staff members with the right skills, knowledge, and experience?
Have all members of the project task team been trained to understand BIM and had technology training required to deliver the project?
Do those organizations have the required software to provide the information in the necessary formats as outlined?
How will ongoing training be fulfilled to address any gaps in skills, knowledge, or expertise?
Figure 2: Steel structure
One of the first things you need to understand are the standards (e.g., EN ISO 19650 1/2, CAD and modeling standards) you are being asked to follow or align to, to ensure you deliver the project as intended.
Does the organization have the correct software or ability to provide the information (i.e., models) in the correct formats to exchange between task teams during design and construction then onto the end users in the format they can use (if that is part of the deliverables)?
Is the organization able to apply the required classification systems and the correct asset information requirements (i.e., COBie) including the level of information need? Can it address any model constraints (i.e., individual model volume)? Can it coordinate the information in the correct location and work collaboratively with all those task teams across the project? Are health and safety identified and an integral part of the design and construction, not to mention the security-minded approach and necessary controls put in place in line with the standards or project/client requirements?
CAD and Modeling Standards
To ensure any information is created in a structured way, you need some standard guidelines set out right from the beginning and this certainly applies to drawing and model production. If there were no rules of the road it would be chaos every time you tried to drive somewhere. So it is important the Appointing Party (i.e., client) has outlined these standards as part of their project requirements. Most importantly, ALL who work on the project must actually follow them and validation checks should be carried out on all information before it is issued.
Here are some examples:
- Grammar and spelling checks are carried out
- The correct (i.e., client’s) drawing title sheet is used
- Layering and object naming is consistent
- All annotation styles are to industry standard and/or to appointing parties standards
- Drawing or model files are cleaned up (purged/audited) before issue
- All revisions and notes have been included
- Model files have been detected from central and work sets removed
The Autodesk Revit model check tool can help undertake some of these validation checks. Find out more at the following location https://www.biminteroperabilitytools.com/modelchecker.php
All disciplines will need their project models’ geographic location setting early during the project specified to a real-world location. This would generally be set by the lead designer and then all other members of the design teams follow suit. This should be outlined in the project BIM Execution Plan (BEP). Ensuring this is done is a key aspect of collaborating with the whole design team. If this is incorrect it would potentially cause errors and then either rework or even redesign to correct those mistakes.
I personally get great results using the BIM 360 suite of tools to coordinate and collaborate on a project. All the discipline’s models are stored in BIM 360 Docs and you can coordinate all the models in BIM 360 Coordinate. And now with recent release of the BIM 360 Issues app for Navisworks, it is only going to enhance things further.
Here are some links for more information about these great tools:
BIM 360 Issues App for Navisworks: https://apps.autodesk.com/NAVIS/en/Detail/Index?id=5155805354033590972&appLang=en&os=Win64
Level of Information Need
The new EN ISO 19650-1 highlights the Level of information need instead of Level of information (LoI) and Level of Detail (LoD), which can be considered the specific examples of the level of information need.
Each information deliverable should be determined according to its purpose from the level of information need.
When building our Revit® Structure models, we need to make sure we understand those specific requirements. Don’t add more detail or information than is required, as this will be over-modeling and will cost you time and money.
Level of information is going to be a lot different in a structural steel model than in a building services model. There will be many maintainable asset elements in a building services model and likely to be very few, if any, in the structural model.
It is similar to the level of development, as the structural engineer’s model generally won’t have as much detail as the fabricated model from the steel fabricators.
File Exchange Format
Creating and exchanging the correct file formats and version is critical. If the EIR highlights the required software, say Autodesk Revit (version 2019), then unless agreed otherwise, the design teams should be using that software and version, as the deliverables could be RVT, NWC, and IFC.
Figure 3: LoD and LoI
Model Volume Strategy
A typical volume strategy will vary from project to project, but generally would follow certain principles such as split into volumes based on originating disciplines or subdisciplines in the case of MEP, subcontractors. This could be split further, for example, by building block or substructure and superstructure or steel frame and concrete frame.
Figure 4: Volume strategy
At the end of the project, the main contractor will submit both an operation and maintenance (O&M) manual and health and safety file with all as-built documentation. We spend so much time creating all this information about the structure to help construct the new asset or refurbish an existing one. We need to ensure it is as built. We need to consider the structure engineers model will generally only be updated to the end of the design stage. Then the steel fabricator could have taken their model and produced a new fully fabricated model with all connections.
Model ownership has been and still is a grey area. Who owns the model and the intellectual property rights of elements and data within may still belong to the originator who will allow the client to use them.
Operational Model Use
Generally, the structural information from a project will be checked and remain in the Health and Safety file. So it is unlikely that the structural models will be updated until future development or re-development, saying that some data might be required to be pushed from the model into the CAFM system. It is important that all the model files are upgraded to the current version used by the asset operator to avoid losing the data.
Gareth Spencer is an experienced BIM Consultant at Man and Machine (Autodesk Platinum Reseller) in the UK, with a demonstrated history in the computer software industry. He is skilled in Autodesk software such as AutoCAD, Revit, Navisworks, and BIM 360. Gareth is a certified professional in Revit Architecture and Structures and a speaker at Autodesk University in Las Vegas and London. Follow Gareth via Twitter @TheDarkAsset, on his blog https://thedarkasset.wordpress.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.