BIM Principles Part 4: Leveraging Data for Better Decision Making

BIM Principles Part 4: Leveraging Data for Better Decision Making

Our last post on the PES BIM Guiding Principles discusses one of the most valuable aspects of the BIM process:  leveraging data.

While adding value to the design team, modeling as it will be constructed and modeling to accommodate change swiftly are all deeply valuable for us and our clients, the fourth principle, leveraging data for better decision making, cuts to the heart of what the promises and goals of BIM are all about.

When we model a project as it will be constructed, we attach very valuable information to each element. This data can be leveraged in a number of different ways.

At this point, we largely use the data for quality control. For example, we can create a schedule with all of our walls to easily verify they are the correct height. Or we can make comparisons of weight and/or volume of concrete and analyze any discrepancies. We can also compare features of floors or areas of buildings to make sure they sit well with the entire design. The decisions that stem from this analysis can be very helpful to the design and construction teams throughout the length of the project.

If modeled correctly, we can also visually analyze how a design comes together in a 3D view. It often helps to make sure that our headers don’t conflict with the top plates of the wall or maybe we’ll see that the steel joists were not offset properly or roof slopes don’t make sense.

It’s important to recognize that the data must be present for us to leverage it. Which means each element modeled must have data attached to it. So where does the data come from? Some of it will come from the architect, some from other sub contractors and some will be included by us, the structural engineers. Including the right data is not always a quick task (although utilizing family properties can help), but it is absolutely worth every minute because it has the potential to be a very valuable time and money saver down the line.

It is equally important to recognize that this is not a perfect system yet. As the AEC industry moves forward to accept the entire, thorough BIM process, the models will only become more valuable. The opportunity for extremely effective collaboration is right around the corner as all the partners and stakeholders use the model to store data and information about the building. As we accept the process and become better collaborators, stakeholders further along can use the model to determine better work flows, material estimates and timeline estimates.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this insiders look into how we approach our BIM workflows and we’d love to hear any feedback! Contact Matt Sweeney, our BIM Program Manager, at msweeney@pesengineers.com to share how you leverage your data for better decision making or any challenges you have faced.