BIM: Exploring new dimensions in construction

Building Information Modelling, or BIM, is a new approach to delivering digital construction assets and uses technology and processes to map out construction projects and facilities in multi dimensions. Professor Nashwan Dawood from Teesside University’s School of Science & Engineering explains how it is vital that British firms involved in the construction industry should work towards becoming BIM compliant.

What is BIM?

At its simplest, BIM is a new way of working that is supported by a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility.

This can be throughout the lifecycle of the facility, from the start of its construction project, through to its occupation and maintenance and finally its demolition.

While traditional building design uses two-dimensional fragmented blueprints and plans, BIM can extend this to not only include three-dimensional digital representations, but also add multiple other dimensions including time and cost to monitor how expenses can vary throughout the lifecycle of the facility and also the environmental impact.

This integration of all the processes is a key part of BIM, allowing for a much smoother exchange of data.


Where can it be used?

BIM is a relatively new set of processes and technology and at Teesside University we’re working with partners in industry to explore different uses and implementation for it.

It is traditionally used in the management of large building projects. For example, we’re carrying out research in Qatar to look at how BIM can be used to improve construction processes over there.

However, new opportunities to implement BIM are constantly presenting themselves. We’re currently working with Ryder Architecture in Newcastle on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to explore how BIM can be used within facilities management to look at how buildings can be managed once construction is complete.

Another KTP with Colour in Newcastle is exploring the potential for BIM within landscape architecture.

We’re also working on a KTP with rainscreen manufacturer Sotech in Peterlee, County Durham, to look at how BIM can be used for the manufacture of construction materials.


How will it help my company?

BIM allows you to visualise and rehearse the design and construction and, consequently, identify problems before they actually happen. This allows you to identify any potential conflicts within the construction phase of any building project and remedy them before a single brick has even been laid.

The ramifications for this are clear. Not only can this help companies make substantial time and money savings, it can also improve the health and safety of a project by identifying any possible hazards.

BIM also provides a single repository of information about a building. This means that there can be a seamless flow of data between project stakeholders allowing for interoperability. Again, this helps projects run much more efficiently.

By putting the requirements before the processes gives companies a better opportunity to deliver.


Why is it important?

The simple answer is that BIM is where the industry is heading.

From April 2016, any company wanting to tender for work on centrally-funded government projects must be Level 2 BIM compliant. This includes departments such as the Home Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for Education. An increasing number of local authorities are also looking to meet this BIM mandate.

As the public sector moves towards full BIM compliance, it is likely to that the private sector will follow suit.

In short, this means that any company which is not BIM-ready will lose out.

It’s also very important for British companies to adopt BIM in order to stay in step with the rest of the world.

Countries across the world are all waking up to the inherent possibilities of BIM. At Teesside University, as well as Qatar, my colleagues and I have been involved in projects across the world from South America to the Far East to the USA.

Many of the UK companies that we have worked with on BIM projects are finding new opportunities for business overseas.

The world is waking up to the possibilities of BIM and it is vital that the UK remains ahead of this trend.

For more information about BIM and other services offered by Teesside University visit