Even by construction industry standards, the commercial construction sector in particular has been slow to get on board with the latest technological innovations. That said, the fact that Georgia Tech is leveraging 5D Building Information Modeling for the design and construction of a more than $100 million campus center project shows the future viability for the process in commercial construction.
“The Georgia Tech project is pushing the industry to enhance the capabilities of 5D tools so they can be applied to more complex projects in the future,” John Barnes, a principal at project consultant BDR Partners told ConstructionExecutive.
The college is requiring the use of 5D BIM for the project, which includes a major expansion of the school’s student center and a new office building and parking deck. But that’s not all. Georgia Tech is also mandating 5D BIM be used for all future capital improvement projects on its 60-acre midtown Atlanta campus, according to ConstructionExecutive. The project, slated for completion in late 2022, is thought to be one of the first in higher-education to utilize 5D BIM in its construction.
BIM is a highly collaborative process by which an interactive virtual project model is developed using specialized software and refined before actual construction begins, including input from everyone involved, from project owners to architects, engineers and contractors themselves. This creates a working “digital twin” of the proposed structure on which changes can be made without risking expensive and time-consuming corrective rework in the real world. 5D models are superior to standard 2- or 3D models because they factor in two additional dimensions critical for any construction project, time and cost.
This greatly reduces the chances for cost overruns, excessive delays, or requiring so-called “value engineering,” in which design elements have to be removed after the design is completed to trim costs. According to McKinsey, most large-scale projects take 20% longer and cost 80% more to complete than initially estimated. So considering both as distinct project dimensions as 5D BIM does gives stakeholders a more holistic view of the project before groundbreaking.
The productivity and collaboration advantages 5D BIM provides could go a long way to address the outdated processes many firms still rely on for project planning and improve communication as the project progresses.
“Project planning remains uncoordinated between the office and the field and is often done on paper, contracts do not include incentives for risk-sharing and innovation, performance management is inadequate and supply chain practices are still unsophisticated,” McKinsey wrote.
The Georgia Tech campus overhaul isn’t the only recent commercial project using the technology. Late last year, Clove Technologies created georeferenced 3D BIM models for a $1.2 billion rail project for the Nagpur Metro Rail in Nagpur, India. The project included 10 metro stations and a 6.7 kilometer viaduct, with the goal of improving public transit in the city. The project team made separate models for each project component, which helped client Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRCL) to get a better handle on procurement and cost planning.
Using BIM, the project models were seamlessly shared across the multiple trades involved, with a master iModel for client review. By running simulations of proposed construction schedules using AECOsim Building Designer, the team was even able to minimize traffic congestion in the city caused by the project.
The Nagpur rail project has been hailed as a bona fide BIM success story. And as the Georgia Tech campus project unfolds, its successful completion will be another feather in the cap for proponents of the technology, and another real, live example of BIM’s promise as a method that helps companies budget their time and resources better while boosting efficiency and profitability.