BIM Technology: What Is It? How Does It Work & Why Does It Matter?

BIM is a digital representation and complex system used in the creation and management of a construction project – from start to finish.

It’s become a vital part of construction projects and you’d be hard pushed to find one that doesn’t use BIM, so much so, it’s now a legal requirement for large scale and public builds to use BIM as part of their processes under the UK government Digital Built Britain scheme. This is all in a bid to improve efficiency and quality of the built environment.

BIM effectively coordinates a digital workflow of each aspect of a build. This includes 3D modelling, product and material data and digital structures. 

An acronym for Building Information Modeling or Building Information Management, all manner of workers and individuals involved in a construction project are able to participate and contribute to the BIM management process. 

From architects to engineers, as well as local authorities and contractors, everybody involved collaborates on the model from the design stage, to its approval and construction. 

Notably, the data can be shared and accessed by BIM managers and the client who can use the BIM model and information to make decisions regarding the build. This data and information remains accessible even after construction has been completed. 

In the past, we relied on blueprints and drawings to communicate building plans but this came with a list of disadvantages. It was often difficult to accurately visualise dimensions, record keeping could be an issue, they were easier to lose or damage and there’d also be no audit trail.

CAD (Computer Aided Design) came along to help improve this, allowing drafters and workers to see digital 3D plans. Today, we have BIM, allowing for support and collaboration at every phase of construction.

Key Features of BIM Technology

In short, BIM software works by taking survey data, designs and considerations to create three-dimensional (3D) objects. These objects combine to create a digital building model alongside a digital workflow from field to finish – for everyone from the architect to the contractors, to the building inspector and stakeholders.

The model contains data describing the building materials, the dimensions and the various components of the construction. The data can be converted into 2D drawings, allowing you to create digital workflows from office to site that would have one source of truth and audit trails.

It allows individuals involved – either directly or indirectly – in the construction to gain insight into various aspects of the build seamlessly for maximum efficiency. 

As a result, the data generated can reveal design problems that can be circumnavigated early on by architects and engineers. 

The Benefits of BIM Technology

A question many ask is what are the benefits of using BIM in construction projects?

BIM software comes with a slew of them. Here are some of the many advantages:

Better Collaboration and Communication 

A key benefit of using BIM in a construction project is that it helps facilitate and finetune communication between all professionals involved. 

Everybody is able to clearly see the virtual model of the building, meaning everyone has clear insight into the project and its requirements. A further benefit of this is that it can prevent any misunderstandings arising which in turn helps prevent delays in construction. 

Enhanced Efficiency

The process of creating 2D drawings is significantly expedited using BIM tools. In fact, this is a big part of its appeal: it saves architects and designers a lot of time at the drawing stage. 

Improved Quality Control 

Design and construction problems can be identified early on through digital visualisations of the building. This is a huge time and resource saver and also helps to ensure a high quality project completion. 

Lower Costs

Through early detection of potential problems in the construction project, costly errors can be avoided. 

Quicker Construction Life Cycle

By employing BIM tools, the whole construction process from start to finish can be planned and monitored with close precision, eliminating communication hold-ups and potential delays.

More Sustainable 

A building’s carbon footprint can be brought down significantly by using BIM analysis tools to optimise energy efficiency. 

Types of BIM Software

There is a variety of BIM software on the market with each designed to play a significant role in the overall BIM process. As an authorised Trimble distributor, we focus on the following BIM software:

Let’s take a look at the BIM lifecycle and which phase of the project you might use each piece of software: 

Applications of BIM Technology in Construction

A lot of people wonder what is the purpose of BIM technology? But the answer is varied as it supports a number of processes in the construction journey. Below we’ll discuss some of the key ones.

Design and Visualisation of Building Structures

Using BIM software such as FieldLink and Field Points, and hardware such as laser scanning equipment and total stations, designers, architects and engineers can gather invaluable insight into the intricacies of the site to enable them to create a model for the project. 

Designers can pick from a library of building elements, including windows, doors, plumbing and ventilation, heating and cooling systems as well as things like stairs and elevators, which can be quickly added to the design. These elements are parametric, meaning they can easily be resized and customised to perfectly fit with the project.

They can also assemble photo-realistic renderings which can be presented to stakeholders or clients – or indeed used for marketing purposes. Renderings are often very important for giving those concerned a clearer insight into what the end result will be. 

BIM tools can also generate important documents like floor plans and elevations which can be passed on to construction workers.

Construction Project Management and Scheduling

BIM tools such as Trimble Connect, Connect AR and Connect MR can be used to assist in the planning, management and scheduling of a construction project. It can do this by offering smart 3D computer models, which can contribute to the management of survey, design, engineering and building.

Collected site survey data can be input to generate a 3D computer model of a building. 

Architects, engineers and anyone involved in the building process can use the model to plan and collaborate on the construction. 

At the design phase, a digital version of the building will be proposed. This model can be used to test design ideas, the integrity of the structure as well as practical concerns such as energy efficiency and fire safety. 

Once the design and planning phase is completed, BIM can create scheduling and track the ongoing build. 

As the build moves forward, tools like CloudEngine can be used to communicate updates with technical collaborators and non-technical stakeholders through easy to understand modelling and real-time simulations to keep track of progress. 

BIM Data Management and Analysis

3D clash detection also plays a role in construction management. It’s a process whereby contractor’s different models are merged to identify any problems. Other ways are through 4D sequencing and virtual mock-ups which can assess the quality of the construction.

Facility Management and Maintenance

BIM can also provide quantifiable insights valuable to facility management post build. 

For instance, it can tell you a building’s predicted energy expenditure, as well as how much maintenance will cost. It does this in part by providing information about things like the durability of materials and the weather conditions of the site – which provides a clear idea of how often components will need to be repaired or replaced. 

While in the past a balance sheet and other documents might give you some idea of these things, looking at a building model and seeing in detail how those costs will look is much more accurate and easy to put into practice.

What is the future of BIM technology?

BIM offers a number of benefits, meaning it is likely not going anywhere.

Architects, engineers and construction workers stand to benefit from the insight BIM can provide them with, and we will see this digital collaboration via the BIM process continue to develop and be optimised. 

As BIM technology develops, we will also start to see 4D, 5D, 6D and 7D BIM come into the picture.

Additionally, it could play a valuable role in reducing waste in construction. A lot of this waste is due to supply chain errors and having to rebuild or rework problems. The collaborative nature of the BIM environment helps prevent these issues, making such waste less likely to occur in future projects.

Looking to the future, BIM has huge potential and this potential is only just coming into view. With new tools and greater optimisation at every level of building construction, we will likely see far more fine-tuned, enhanced and optimised building processes going forward. 

Efficiency, Accuracy and Collaboration

BIM-enabled construction processes provide greater efficiency, visualisation and collaboration throughout a design and construction project. 

It can assist communication between those involved, including stakeholders and local authorities that will approve planning permission. As a platform, it can help ensure all individuals involved are working towards the same clearly defined construction goal. 

Companies use BIM today due to its value at each and every phase of construction – from its initial design to maintenance of the facility. With analysis tools it can identify areas of improvement and run predictions for how often upkeep and repair will be required. At the time of a building’s completion, it can still provide insight into a building’s operations making it a highly valuable, comprehensive process for construction. 

BuildingPoint UK & Ireland are proud to supply the highest quality Trimble surveying equipment and BIM solutions to the construction industry. 

Our mission is to empower you to measure, map and manage the natural and built environment with ease. If you have any questions about BIM technology and software, or you’d like to hire Trimble survey equipment, our knowledgeable team is always on hand to help, just get in touch

Announcing: BuildingPoint UK and Ireland achieves FIS membership status

BuildingPoint UK and Ireland is pleased to announce it is now an accredited member of FIS, the industry’s top representative body for the £10 billion fit-out finishes and interiors sector.

With the FIS commitment to keeping members up to date with the trends and innovations in the sector, BuildingPoint UK and Ireland looks forward to assisting the community by offering information and help in the adoption of fit-out task-specific software and hardware from the BuildingPoint portfolio of Trimble products. These easy to use but innovative solutions include digital setting out equipment, Mixed and Augmented Reality systems, 3D Laser Scanners, Robotic Total Stations and even autonomous robots such as ‘Spot’ the agile dog and HP Construction Services SitePrint, Robotic Layout Solution.

Sam Hough, Business Manager (UK) BuildingPoint UK and Ireland said:

“We are thrilled to announce BuildingPoint’s latest milestone as a proud member of the FIS. This membership amplifies our commitment to reshaping the landscape of the interiors sector with state-of-the-art technology specifically designed for those that want to increase profitability, site efficiency, accuracy and safety through the adoption of easy to implement digital workflows.”


Joe Cilia, FIS’ Technical Director said:

“We are delighted to welcome BuildingPoint UK and Ireland into membership of FIS. They bring with them the skills, knowledge, and resources to help members work effectively using the array of new and innovative digital tools available. AR, MR and installation & verification technologies are an exciting new area with the capability to revolutionise how we deliver and record projects in real time”.

About FIS

FIS is a driving force for quality within the industry, providing unparalleled guidance, training and technical support for its members. FIS is a supply change body, committed through service and vetting to deliver the best knowledge and services for its members, ensuring the community is kept up to date with the trends and innovations in the industry.

About BuildingPoint UK and Ireland

BuildingPoint dealers represent Trimble Buildings’ solutions. This covers their software, service and hardware offerings designed to allow users to create, transfer and modify construction models throughout the design, build, operate (DBO) lifecycle.

They provide a groundbreaking capability to help make projects quicker, more cost-efficient and stay on schedule by enabling tighter coordination and collaboration.


What construction can learn from manufacturing

Did you know that US sectors including agriculture and manufacturing have increased productivity 10 to 15 times since the 1950s, the productivity of construction remains stuck at the same level as 80 years ago?

BuildingPoint UK and Irelands Business Manager (UK), Sam Hough, takes a look at why the construction sector is underperforming and what we can do about it.

A Century of Evolution: Construction vs. Manufacturing

Over the past century, both the construction and manufacturing industries have undergone significant transformations, spurred by technological advancements, shifts in global economies, and changing societal demands. While the core principles of these sectors have remained unchanged, the methods and processes have evolved dramatically. Let’s explore how construction and manufacturing have changed over the last one hundred years and analyse the key factors that have shaped their respective journeys. By looking at this, it will help us understand WHY construction has been losing the ‘evolution race’ for nearly a century.

A recent McKinsey article titled “REINVENTING CONSTRUCTION: A ROUTE TO HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY” explores how the changes between both sectors have not necessarily resulted in similar productivity growth.

“Every year, there is about $10 trillion in construction-related spending globally, equivalent to 13 percent of GDP.

Global labour-productivity growth in construction has averaged only 1 percent a year over the past two decades (and was flat in most advanced economies). Contrasted with growth of 2.8 percent in the world economy and 3.6 percent in manufacturing,

US sectors including agriculture and manufacturing have increased productivity ten to 15 times since the 1950s, the productivity of construction remains stuck at the same level as 80 years ago.

The article clearly indicates that the construction sector is underperforming. Current measurements find that there has been a consistent decline in the industry’s productivity since the late 1960s. If we can achieve a manufacturing-style production system, it is estimated this could boost productivity by 5-10x!

5 reasons why construction hasn’t achieved its potential

Construction faces several challenges when it comes to a perceived lack of advancement:

  1. Technological adoption: Historically, the construction industry has been slow to adopt new technologies compared to other sectors.
  2. Fragmented nature: The construction industry often involves many stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, and suppliers. The fragmented nature of the industry can lead to communication gaps and inefficiencies that slow down advancements, multiple single sources of truth!
  3. Skilled labour shortage: The industry has faced difficulties in attracting and retaining skilled workers. The lack of skilled labour can lead to delays and reduced productivity, impacting the overall advancement of projects.
  4. Risk-averse culture: The construction sector often prioritises tried-and-tested methods to avoid risks and costly mistakes. This risk-averse culture can discourage experimentation and the adoption of new approaches.
  5. Funding and investment: Construction projects can be capital-intensive, and obtaining funding for innovative projects may be challenging, especially for smaller companies or startups with limited resources.

Automobile – Then vs. Now

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In a manufacturing setting, with the rise of assembly lines, pioneered by Henry Ford, mass production became possible. Robotics and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machines have dramatically increased productivity, reduced errors, and enabled cost-effective, large-scale production.

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In 1886, a patent was filed under the number 37435, this is to be considered the first practical automobile put into series production. It had 1 cylinder, 3 horsepower, 2 speeds and weighed 360KG! This patent was filed under Benz & Co… Later known as Mercedes Benz.

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If we look at a modern-day car, a Mercedes EQS for example, it boasts 658 horsepower, charges in 31 minutes and it has a fully digital dash!

Can you imagine if Karl Benz was able to see what his automobile company was going to be in 150 years!?

Construction – Then vs. Now

Granted, the two industries do differ drastically with technological improvements and the sheer demand for automobiles. We can’t avoid the fact though that the technology for construction is there, we just need to adopt it! The key to this is often overcoming the reasons listed 1-5 above.

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Whilst the construction sector has seen vast improvements, these have predominantly been focused on health and safety. If you compare the construction site of Kensington Station (built in the mid 1800s) with a modern-day construction site, you’ll see the similarities. The technology is very much the same, with little advancements of the “traditional” trades.

Technology is the key to success

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What does any of this mean in relation to the hardware we offer at BuildingPoint?

Whether you’re a drylining company or are installing MEPF, with feature rich drawings and 3D models, it’s seen to reduce rework costs by 30%, and increase productivity by up to 90% using our setting out solutions!

If you’re a concrete contractor, wanting to check a pour is within your tolerance, or a general contractor / principal contractor wanting to ensure all parts of your project are being installed to specification by your subcontractors, our 3D laser scanners have got your back!

Maybe you’re wanting to roll the 3D model out to your site team to aid coordination or are looking to collaborate remotely with your team through remote, handsfree video calls, our mixed and augmented reality solutions can achieve this!

And if you’re really pushing the boundaries and want to become the next Mercedes Benz of the construction industry, why look into robotic layout, using the HP SitePrint which boasts up to 10x speed increases.

Or even you are looking to perform dirty, dull and dangerous tasks, our SPOT and X7/X9 solution can increase your productivity by removing the human aspect from data acquisition, freeing them up for other tasks, or avoid sending an operative into a potentially dangerous environment.

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