Increasing Utility Value of BIM in All Project Phases
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Many BIM applications have been developed since the concept of BIM was first published decades ago. Increased use of BIM has been most noticeable from 2000 until today in Norway, but the use and the achieved utility value vary greatly, partly depending on the company size. BIM is most commonly used in the initial and closing phases of a project, while many choose to go back to traditional 2D methods during the construction phase, creating a black hole in the BIM implementation process. This can cause duplication of work, which can reduce the potential time, cost and quality benefits BIM offers. Is it true that the benefits from implementing BIM in the construction phase doesn t make up for the efforts it requires? This master thesis attempts to convince the AEC industry that utilizing BIM in all project phases can contribute to optimize planning, communication and analyzing in ways that exceed the abilities of traditional implementation methods. The researcher partnered with Rambøll Norge AS for this research work. They have so far not fully implemented BIM in the construction phase of their projects, but have expressed that they wish to change this. Their desire was the triggering factor for this research work. The researcher did a pilot study in fall 2014. Knowledge gained during the pilot study helped shape the research topic and the research questions, which read as follows: What are the benefits and challenges with using BIM in the construction phase? What actions are necessary to increase the utility value of BIM in all project phases? Who should be responsible for implementing the actions? Currently experienced benefits and challenges with using BIM in all project phases must be identified as well as actions necessary to increase the benefits and reduce the challenges, in order to fulfill this research s purpose: Finding arguments in favor of using BIM in all project phases, and attempt to diminish the above-mentioned black hole. A construction project has a limited duration and is the sum of a unique product, the project organization and the construction processes necessary to achieve completion. Projects supereminent objective is to satisfy the clients needs within the constraints of cost, duration, and quality objectives. Client acceptance of the final product is the key variable, as it clarifies if a project fulfilled its intended purpose. This thesis focused on the construction phase, but the transitions from preceding and to proceeding phases were still of some interest. A Building Information Model can briefly be defined as an intelligent, digital 3D model incorporated with the building component information necessary to build the building. Building Information Modeling is the processes involving the generation and management of Building Information Models. The 3D model provides for enhanced visualization, model walkthroughs, and collision detection. A 4D model provides for the ability to plan, schedule, monitor, and manage a project. A 5D model provides for quantity take-outs, and real-time and life cycle cost estimation. The 6D model provides for energy calculations and analyses, and addresses environmental strain. A 7D model provides for facility management, operation and maintenance, and life-cycle analysis. This research work was carried out using an inductive research approach and qualitative research methods to collect data. An extensive literature search, a brief document study, and twelve semi-structured open-ended interviews of experienced BIM users involved in one of the two case projects were conducted to collect data for this research. The group of interviewees consisted of: Four people with roles in the client s project administration, three discipline consulting engineers, one architect, two people with roles in the contractor s project management, one BIM technician and one BIM technician professor. The interviewees were asked to elaborate on the benefit and challenges they have experienced concerning these aspects in BIM projects: Phase transitions, responsibility distribution, analytical features, information sharing, communication, visualization, collaboration and cooperation, lean construction, waste reduction, and schedule and budget planning and monitoring. They were also asked to recommend necessary actions to increase the utility value of BIM, and to name the parties they see as responsible for implementing the actions. Many of the benefits the interviewees claimed to have experienced are made possible due to the greatly enhanced visualization digital BIM models offer: Performance analyses, error detection, quantity summation, work activity identification, verification of constructability, increased predictability, waste reduction, higher quality project products, and a more efficient construction process through free flow of information, constant model access and improved communication. Their claims are supported by literature reviewed in the literature study. The interviewees each mentioned, on several occasions, that the AEC industry s lack of BIM interest, lack of willingness to adopt new tools and processes, and low level of BIM skills are incredibly damaging to the implementation of BIM. Proposed actions to reduce these challenges included increasing people s BIM interest and level of BIM skills, which may be solved locally. Individual companies could arrange training seminars for their employees, but employees have to be willing to adopt BIM. Research on the overall utility value of BIM or the expected savings of cost and time from implementing the construction phase utilizing BIM tools and BIM processes may contribute to convince AEC industry participants nation-wide. The latter is also one of the researcher s recommended future research topics. Some more comprehensive challenges were also uncovered during the interviews. BIM tools and BIM processes have in many cases simply been applied to traditional project implementation methods and contract strategies. Appropriate levels of detail in BIM models and intended use of models are seldom specified in contract agreements. The interviewees would like to see the government, buildingSMART or Standard Norge step in and announce standard BIM applications and information exchange systems, and establish standards for how BIM should be implemented and how BIM should be included in contract agreements. One of the interview questions dealt with combining BIM and budget planning and monitoring. None of the interviewees were able to give well-justified answers, as none of them have had any previous success actually combining the two.