Literature Review Chapter: BIM Implementation Strategy

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¶ … Building Information Modeling Implementation Strategy for Libyan Construction Sector

The introduction of increasingly sophisticated computer-based three-dimensional modeling applications in the architecture, engineering and construction sectors has created a concomitant need for standardized ways for practitioners to share their building information with others. The trends have created a corresponding need to develop efficient ways to implement these modeling applications in these sectors. For instance, according to Arayici, Khosrowshahi, Ponting and Mihindu (2009), "The construction industry has been facing a paradigm shift to (i) increase; productivity, efficiency, infrastructure value, quality and sustainability, (ii) reduce; lifecycle costs, lead times and duplications" (p. 1). In response to these trends, a growing number of practitioners suggest that the majority of these needs can be satisfied through modern building information modeling (BIM) applications. In this regard, Arayici et al. define BIM as "the use of the ICT technologies to streamline the building lifecycle processes of a building and its surroundings, to provide a safer and more productive environment for its occupants; and to assert the least possible environmental impact from its existence; and be more operationally efficient for its owners throughout the building lifecycle" (p. 1).

In reality, though, it is important to note that BIM is not a specific technology, but is rather a technique that involves both technology as well as relevant standards, and there remains a lack of standardization in many cases that has resulted in calls for the adoption of applications such as BIM. For instance, according to Lyon (2009, p. 40), "Numerous vendors provide some type of BIM software. Using this software, various disciplines -- designers, architects, engineers, and builders -- can employ BIM for building design, construction, and management. It allows them to share integrated digital information quickly on the design, schedule, materials, and cost, building a three-dimensional (3D) model."

The common use of BIM applications allows practitioners to model different aspects of the building design on computer displays and generate corresponding data concerning dimensions and requisite materials. According to Lyon (2009, p. 40), "The output is a 3D rendering on which design and construction can be based, much like the standard drafting or computer-aided design (CAD) drawings of the past." In sharp contrast to just a few years ago, practitioners today can easily generate an infinite number of "what-if" scenarios using BIM applications that provide immediate feedback concerning optimal solutions. In this regard, Hebert (2011) advises that, "BIM enables owners and designers to carefully, and more accurately, review the payback of one building scheme relative to another over the life cycle of a building. Energy modeling with the BIM model is relatively new and continuing to improve, and these tools have become vital to understanding and creating sustainable buildings" (p. 7).

The importance of these attributes for engineer and building design professionals is readily apparent, but this information is typically needed by a number of other organizations in the supply chain that make BIM applications valuable for all stakeholders. For example, according to Laing (2012), BIM "provides computer-based, information-rich 3D model imagery of every aspect of a new building, allowing clients to 'walk into' each room and turn 360 degrees. The program also hosts all the documents and other information relevant to a new building, giving all those involved in the project access to what they need to build the project on-site" (p. 32). These powerful BIM applications, though, are only as effective to the extent that they are implemented and administered properly, and the key drivers to success building information modeling implementations are discussed further below.

Key Drivers to Successful Building Information Modeling Implementation

Although every organizational setting is unique in some fashion, one common feature that characterizes most is a reluctance to change, and the adoption and implementation of BIM applications in engineering, architectural and construction settings is certainly no exception. In this regard, Arayici et al. (n.d., p. 3) emphasize that, "In the BIM implementation, it is critical to consider the process and people factors in addition to technology. Without considering the former, successful implementation of the latter is almost impossible for BIM adoption." This point is also made by Eastman; Jeong, Sacks and Kaner (2010) who report the costs associated with non-BIM processes are staggering and demand cost-effective solutions. In this regard, Eastman and his associates (2010, p. 25) emphasize that, "Several issues have become critical in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries with the widespread adoption of Building Information Modeling. In the early 2000s, the cost of inadequate interoperability for the AEC industries in the United States has been estimated at over $15 billion."

The underlying process and people factors that are involved in BIM implementations demand that all stakeholders recognize the benefits that can accrue to the use of these applications in ways that support the "what's-in-it-for-them?" aspects. As Arayici and his colleagues (n.d., p. 3) point out, "BIM offers many new financial and creative opportunities for most construction related organizations (e.g. architectural companies), but to realize these benefits firms will need to embrace the integration of design and construction that BIM will promote." This all sounds easy enough, of course, but the harsh realities facing practitioners implementing BIM is that the approach involves changes to both process as well as the composition of the people who have traditionally been responsible for these activities. According to Arayici et al. (n.d., p. 3), "[Successful implementation of BIM applications] will require changes in project delivery methods and in the composition of the firm's staff." The payoff for doing the due diligence needed to identify relevant stakeholders and the manner in which BIM applications will affect them is a better chance of seamless implementation. In this regard, Arayici and his associates conclude that, "Properly implemented, BIM may also change the role of professions (e.g. architectural) an expanded role in the AEC/O industry. To realize the BIM benefits, an active role in guiding its implementation must be taken" (n.d., p. 2).

Using an action research methodology, these researchers examined the implementation of a knowledge transfer partnership initiative between the University of Salford and John McCall Architects (JMA) in Liverpool. The overarching goal of the knowledge transfer partnership was to use BIM to develop lean design practices that incorporated a socio-technical perspective that provided a framework in which it was possible to consider the implementation of technology as well as the socio-cultural environment in which the initiative was set in order to provide the context for its optimal implementation (Arayici et al., n.d.). According to Arayici et al. (n.d., p. 1), "The adoption and implementation of BIM to enable lean design process brings about changes and new challenges and investments for stakeholders."

Those stakeholders who are most obviously affected by the implementation of BIM applications include virtually everyone in architectural, construction and engineering organizations. According to Williams (2009), "Remaining competitive in the commercial construction business means developing and retaining talented employees and keeping them ahead of important trends such as sustainability and Building Information Modeling (BIM)" (p. 52).

Moreover, stakeholder involvement extends along the entire supply chain to include any entity that provides data for the BIM three-dimensional renderings and extrapolations of requisite material and associated costs. For example, a study by McAdam (2010) concluded that, "It is a feature of idealized BIM implementation that there is a collaborative approach to design and delivery embraced by key stakeholders -- contractors, engineers, architects, employers. 'The design' is not whatever the latest issue drawings say, but whatever the BIM currently says, and what it actually says may depend not just on input from the 'designers' but from contractors and/or the employer, and on whether it is handling data correctly or not" (pp. 247-248). Based on their experiences with BIM implementations and empirical observations, Arayici et al. (n.d.) suggest that a socio-technical view of BIM implementation can be useful in facilitating the process because it not only considers the implementation of technology but the socio-cultural environment in which the initiative is applied that best provides the context for its implementation.

One of the other key drivers to successful implementation of BIM applications is standardization (Lyon, 2009). In response to this need, BIM software developers are investigating ways to incorporate graphic as well as relevant information standards into their applications (Lyon, 2009). According to Lyon (2009, p. 40), "The International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) is working to specify how 'things' that could occur in a constructed facility (including real things such as doors, walls, and fans as well as abstract concepts such as space, organization, information exchange, and process) should be represented electronically." In the effort to standardize the common factors that are needed to use BIM applications to their maximum advantage, the IAI has developed classes called Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) (Lyon, 2009).

Although various building modeling applications have been in use for some time, the effort to formulate building product model exchanges data based on ISO-STEP technology begin during the mid-1990s and this process remains ongoing with the industry foundation classes promoted by BuildingSMART (Eastman et al.,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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