Exclusive: The role of BIM in the digitisation of building design

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ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions reports on the increasing use of Building Information Modelling in building design.

It’s hard to think of an undertaking which is more physical — and less “virtual” — than construction. The process and its goal — the finished building — exist in the real world. Yet there is another way to look at it. Every construction project is also an ever shifting, growing mass of information. Digitisation is perfectly adapted to help. The end result, when done successfully, is a project delivered faster, more accurately and with less waste.

Building Information Modelling (or BIM) is increasingly important to architects and engineers, building owners and contractors. More than just a 3D design of a building, BIM is a collaboration process. Its goal is to place every product and component within a data-rich building model.

This may sound daunting to anyone new to BIM. Yet BIM simply marshals all relevant information about the build and makes it accessible to everyone who needs it, whatever their job.

A resource for everyone

The digital model — hub of the BIM process — is a centralised store for up-to-date project information. Keeping this model accurate minimises specification, ordering and engineering errors. It helps important decisions get made earlier in the process. It also ensures decisions made early are the right ones. Mistakes can be expensive; BIM helps eliminate them before they happen. And because everyone is working from the same model, delays are cut and correction loops shortened.

The business benefits of BIM are more than theoretical. They’re supported by data: One recent US study from Dodge Data & Analytics finds BIM both reduces project costs and improves building design and function. The benefits are likely significant for door and security solutions, where specifications can be complex.

“As security solutions have developed and become more sophisticated, so has their impact on the overall building environment,” says Marc Ameryckx, EMEIA BIM Manager at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions. “If doors, entrances and access control solutions don’t have the features required by the building manager from the outset, it can become a real challenge to implement this at a later stage.

“Security systems are now crucial components within buildings. They should be factored in as early as possible. Partnering with a security manufacturer who has BIM expertise is the best way to do this.”

Where to find BIM expertise

Embedding BIM consultants from the outset helps to streamline a project. The right BIM team will coordinate specification and design, ensuring the full implications of every change are understood. With door solutions rendered accurately in a model, for example, architects can introduce security solutions into early design drafts. The nightmare scenario — disrupting aesthetics and usability with a last-minute change to accommodate necessary security — is negated.

Consultants and specifiers with broad access control and door technology expertise can also bring an independent security and safety perspective which may be missing from a project mix. “We provide subject matter expertise, as well as software solutions to aid the scheduling and coordination of openings information,” says Erez Levin, Specification & BIM Director EMIEA at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions EMEIA.

“Our team has experienced projects of every size — up to thousands of openings. They can input comprehensive specifications and detailed geometry, formatted for seamless integration with architectural design software. Where relevant, inputs include manuals and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) required for green building certification schemes — another fast-growing consideration.”

Making software work for the BIM process

Specialist BIM software can also play a key role as a conduit between architectural design software and databases with specification data. Openings Studio, for example, delivers detailed door solution specifications directly to popular packages such as Revit and ARCHICAD.

“Openings Studio software introduced us to a whole new way of thinking and efficiency,” says David Zarhy, whose firm Zarhy Architects used a BIM process during design stage for the Broadcom R&D Center at Tel Aviv University.

Instead of relying on Excel spreadsheets and PDF floorplans, Openings Studio updates designs with every new specification — resulting in fewer errors and less wasted time. Architects can drop new door hardware into place to compare alternatives or run simulations for different solutions. “What if…” questions are quickly answered.

Software becomes a digital resource for every stakeholder and an always-open communications pipeline. “A direct channel between requirements and supplied solutions was very important,” adds David Zarhy. “The software allowed us to manage all the data efficiently and keep it up to date.”

When the build ends, BIM keeps working

BIM’s benefits extend beyond construction phase. Handover to facility management is smoother. Everyone working on the building, now and in the future, finds the information they need quickly in the model.

BIM’s “benefits are too great to ignore: in cost reduction, on-time delivery, futureproofing buildings and creating a trustworthy data store for facilities management down the line,” adds Marc Ameryckx.

A successful BIM informs site audits, health and safety policy, maintenance schedules, refurbishment projects and more through the lifetime of a typical building. A well-constructed digital “virtual” model helps a building to enjoy a long, efficient, effective life — in the real world.

ASSA ABLOY Specification and BIM consultants have supported projects of every size and complexity. To learn more, visit https://www.assaabloyopeningsolutions.co.uk/en/project-specification/

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