I don't like the term BIM. It means too many things and is often misunderstood. How many versions of "BIM" are you aware of? You wouldn't be blamed for thinking "BIM" was a person if you heard about "little BIM", apparently quite lonely. Maybe you know their brother "Big BIM"? Do you know what all the LOD's stands for? Yes, there is more than one. What about LOI, IFC, BCF, AIM, IPD or BEP?!?
With all these acronyms in our own industry, we are suffering the same fate as the automotive industry, dozens and dozens of acronyms, that only causes confusion and provides little understanding of what they actually mean.
This got me thinking. So I decided to have a little bit of fun with just how confusing this is all getting. So sit back, relax and try to keep up! (For a more amusing read, ignore the expanded form shown in italics).
Disclaimer: If you are a Business Implementation Manager or work in the Business Information Management sector, this has nothing to do with your industry "BIM".
Have you heard of the term BIM? (Building Information Modelling) Everyone is always talking about BIM (Building Information Modelling). The problem is we hear it so much we don't know if they are referring to a BIM (Building Information model) or BIM (Building Information Modelling). It stands for both really, so then you have to keep reading to understand which BIM they are really referring too. The problem? They are not the only two "BIM's". They could also be referring to a BIM (Building Integrated Model), that's right... 3 BIM's!!! You continue reading, now understanding the 3 BIM's only to find sentences like "the BIM model". Wait... do they mean building information modelling model or building information model model? It doesn't really matter, neither makes sense. So to be correct, they really should write the BIM (or BI Model)?
Now if you're thinking, something along the lines of "so many BIM's, so little time", then don't stress too much, there is plenty of information to explain it all, easily found on the web (just as clear as this!). That reminds me, I should also mention Little BIM & Big BIM too, (they are BIM's as well apparently), referring to which part of the BIM cycle you are in. (I guess the term 'milestone' or 'phase' just didn't cut it in today's BIM world). Oh yeah, and there is "OpenBIM", "lonely BIM" & "Social BIM" too...and no, I am not kidding....I wish I was.
Just when you think you're at the limit of confusion, we are introduced to the differences between LOD (Level of Detail), LOD (Level of Development) & LOD (Level of definition), not to mention LOI (Level of Information). Yup, another 3 LOD's to add to the 3 BIM's. (Although LOD (Level of development) is more often being referred to as LOMD (Level of Model Development) in the UK to reduce confusion).
The LOD (Level of Development), (refer to documents like the BIM Forum Specification or AIA G202 - 2013 for more information) is typically found in what is sometimes referred to as the BxP or more commonly BEP. (The 'X' doesn't technically stand for anything! It's "clever" writing apparently, the 'X' stands for 'execution', ahh see what they did there!). So it's really BEP (BIM Execution Plan) but even BEP and similar acronyms amuse me, because the "B" in BEP stands for an acronym, not a word. Shouldn't it be BIM-EP?
Anyway, I digress... where were we? Ah yes, BEP (Building Information Modelling Execution Plans). The BEP (Building Information Modelling Execution Plan) is a document your project team should use to keep everyone on the same path and to clearly outline the team's expectations during the projects life. (I admit, that's a fairly simplified explanation). Decisions on the CDE (Common Data Environment), could be a project server, an extranet or a cloud-based system and method of interoperability between the various consultants should also be outlined in this document.
Interoperability is important as your project team will likely be using various software packages. (Visit the BuildingSmart website to learn more about OpenBIM standards). Open file formats such as IFC (Integrated Foundation Class) & BCF (Building Information Modelling Collaboration Format) may be considered to assist in interoperability during the project documentation and construction process.
So that's some of the letters, any numbers you may ask? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there is. Understanding what your BIM (Building Information Model) is going to be used for brings you to 4D (Time), 5D (Cost) and 6D (Facilities Management). (The "D" stands for Dimension) Each of these has different impacts on the project team and should be clearly outlined. Speaking of these "D's", it would be remiss of me not to mention the discrepancy I have come across with 6D (Facilities Management). I have noticed the typical 6D, being referred to as 7D and sustainability being referred to as 6D.
(Side note: No idea why we refer to them as "dimensions", it makes as much sense to me as black holes and the space time continuum, which is what they really sound like they are referring to).
Some advice before you go crazy. If you are a business who is venturing into the world of BIM (Building Information Modelling), I would recommend your business employees a BIM (Building Information Manager) or BIM Manager (Building Information Modelling Manager) who should understand all this. (That's "BIM" number 4...). They would then be part of the conversations & meetings regarding the above and help to manage & keep things on track during the project phases, making your teams job far less daunting.
In summary, yes, it would be easier if BIM & BIM was referred to as just BIM, but that's what a BIM is hired for. Understanding the difference between LOD, LOD, & LOD will simplify things, but don't forget about the D's (4D, 5D & 6D) because they can affect the LOD, that is all outlined in the BEP or BxP.
Keeping up or have I lost you?
If you are still unsure as to what all this "BIM'ing" is, then I will share with you the preferred description of the term 'BIM' I have heard so far, that is; Building Information Management...... and suddenly it is a little clearer as to what the focus really should be on, don't you think? (By the way, that's BIM number 5...)
On a more serious note, as you can see things have gotten just a little out of control and sadly, I haven't even scratched the surface. I didn't mention AIM (Asset Information Model), PIM (Project Information Model) or IPD (Integrated Project Delivery). And I spared you the pain of explaining COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange).
It's no wonder there is such confusion. It is no wonder BIM managers are cringing at every "BIM Meeting".
You can call it what you want, but I am sticking with what I believe it is actually all about, our industry needing to reduce waste, by working together. To do that, we need to be more effective at managing our Information & our Communication, (And don't you dare call it IC!!!) which is something another 3 letter acronym won't achieve.
I guess we will one day look back at all this and think, that really was Bulls*** In the Making. Oh look at that, I made another BIM!