What is BIM? Guide to Building Information Modeling

February 13, 2023

Buildings are becoming ever more complex. Designing and constructing these buildings requires intense collaboration across all the interior trades to ensure that their components fit into the allotted space inside the building. The most effective way to prevent conflicts is through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and a BIM coordination process, which enables trades to identify and resolve conflicts in software before installation in the field. With a BIM-driven layout, you can utilize these coordinated BIM models to streamline installation, boosting collaboration in the field and eliminating delays due to conflicts identified in the field.

What is BIM?

BIM is an intelligent software modeling process that enables multiple trades to collaborate on a construction project simultaneously. The model understands the specific functions of the design, and everyone involved in the planning has their own “view” of a realistic 3D model of the building. As each trade modifies its view, the different views are updated in real-time to ensure visibility into the changes. This allows all trades on the project to test out adaptations to their own plans to ensure compatibility.

Why is BIM Important?

BIM is the crux of digital transformation in the construction industry, leading to significant improvements in construction cost, safety, and efficiency. Instead of working across disparate data sources, BIM provides a centralized and common dataset for all parties involved. Further, integrating BIM modeling files with robotic layout technology will enable a BIM-driven layout, which means all trades’ layout can be printed accurately and at the same time directly on the construction site floor. BIM modeling and BIM-to-Field layout eliminate the need for workers to get on their hands and knees and manually draw chalk lines. It also ensures the accuracy and compatibility of multi-trade layout across plumbing, electrical, drywall, and more. BIM is considered the future of construction, and 75% of the construction industry is making BIM a top priority. So, what exactly can it be used for?

What Can BIM Be Used For?

BIM can be used for myriad workflows in a construction project, from design to planning, construction, and even renovations after the fact. Let’s dive into how BIM transforms each of these processes.  

  1. Creating a design

With building information modeling, architects and engineers and builders can envision the complete project and test out different designs in order to find the right solution. This allows potential conflicts to be identified and resolved early on in the construction process. And, with fewer conflicts in the field, the need for expensive rework is dramatically reduced.

  1. Planning out construction

Maintaining construction timelines and cost estimates can seem impossible when trades are working independently on a single project. With BIM, it doesn’t have to be that way. By collaborating in real-time on the model, there is always visibility into the scheduling and logistics of each trade. This reduces last-minute surprises and makes it easier to maintain expected timelines and budgets.

  1. Building more efficiently

BIM provides a centralized and reliable location for design information across plumbing, electrical, drywall, and more. Ensuring this compatibility and collaboration is important both in the design phase and during the actual layout process itself. BIM-driven layout is a recent innovation in the construction industry that is taking the benefits of BIM to the next phase and revolutionizing the layout and installation process.

With Dusty Robotic’s FieldPrinter, the coordinated BIM model is printed directly onto the construction site by an autonomous robot. Instead of the error-prone and slow manual layout process, Dusty prints the digital model precisely to scale with 100% accuracy. This increases speed and efficiency and eliminates pricey rework.

  1. Improving operations

After construction has been completed, the BIM data is stored and available for future use. This makes it easy to design and plan for renovations down the line. Instead of starting from scratch and running into potential conflicts with existing construction, renovations can be intelligently designed using the original, centralized data.

Now that you understand what BIM is and what it can be used for, let’s review the different levels of BIM maturity.

What are the BIM Levels?

BIM is divided into 6 levels, each of which describes a different level of multi-trade collaboration, modernization, and data centralization. The highest level of BIM represents the most modern and comprehensive BIM process possible, while the lowest level represents the most manual and disparate process. Progressing up these levels can be thought of as BIM maturity, with 6D being the most mature.

  • Level 0 BIM: The majority of the construction industry has already matured past this initial stage. Level 0 refers to a total lack of collaboration or communication across trades or specialities. It also involves the use of paper drawings, digital prints, or 2D CAD drawings.
  • Level 1 BIM:  Many firms are working at Level 1, which involves minimal collaboration, and each party manages and publishes its own data. Level 1 BIM involves using 2D CAD for drafting production and 3D CAD for concept work.
  • Level 2 BIM: Level 2 BIM is the lowest level of BIM allowed for public projects in the UK and France. At this level, teams use their own 3D CAD models, which means the models will most likely be different. However, teams must share their data through a common file format.
  • Level 3 BIM: Collaboration is more prominent in Level 3 BIM, with team members working in a single, shared model. The 3D building model lives in a central environment that each team member can modify. This provides better visibility into the entire project, helps teams across trades collaborate, streamlines communication, and reduces rework. However, multi-trade timelines are not a part of Level 3 BIM.
  • Level 4 BIM: At Level 4 BIM, scheduling data is used for every involved party. This helps to detail and share expected timelines for each aspect of a project and establishes sequencing across trades.  
  • Level 5 BIM: Budget and cost estimates are an important aspect of Level 5 BIM, and project owners track budgets and cost estimations across the length of the project. With visibility into expected timelines and budgets, it’s easier to keep large-scale projects from snowballing out of control.  
  • Level 6 BIM: The most mature of all levels, Level 6 BIM uses multi-trade data to calculate the energy consumption of the building before it is actually built. This advanced level of BIM helps large-scale construction projects align with energy efficiency standards. With better energy consumption data, it’s also easier to pursue green building certifications, such as LEED certification.

What is LOD in BIM Modeling?

The Level of Detail (LOD) is an indicator that establishes the amount of graphical detail to be included in a shared BIM model. For instance, LOD determines if parties should include the physical characteristics of a design element and its associated data. Depending on the established level, this could mean including the components of a wall or the exact fasteners used to attach subsystems together. By setting a standard for graphical details to be used in the BIM model, all trades involved in the project can communicate more effectively about design compatibility and functionality.

In the US, there are 6 Levels of Detail ranging from LOD 100 - LOD 500.

  1. LOD 100: This level includes the least amount of details. Models are generic and symbolic, with limited graphics and a lack of accurate design details, simplified or realistic.  

  1. LOD 200: Models are represented graphically, but they are simplified. While there are some details, the shapes, quantities, and orientations may not be accurate.

  1. LOD 300: At this level, models are realistically represented with accurate details, shapes, quantities, and orientations. However, there is still no information included in the BIM model regarding structural, thermal, or electrical designs.

  1. LOD 350: Building on level 3, these BIM models are realistic with accurate details, but they also include framework information such as structural, electrical, or thermal designs. In addition, LOD 350 includes the calculations for the different interactions between these trades.

  1. LOD 400: These BIM models are realistic and include accurate shapes, quantities, orientations, and trade calculations. They also include detailed information regarding the building materials, dates of installation, manufacturers, and maintenance.

  1. LOD 500: As the most advanced of all the Levels of Detail, LOD 500 contains all of the information from previous levels, but with a higher level of precision. These models are the closest to reality and all of the details are verified to function as expected.

All construction projects using LOD 200 - LOD 500 are suitable for BIM-driven layout, and the higher the LOD, the better the results. With the detailed components of a design included in the BIM model, this valuable information can be printed directly onto the construction site surface. This ensures that all of the trade details captured in the BIM model are accurately represented in the layout. By providing this multi-trade information and eliminating manual errors, construction projects profit from accurate multi-trade layout and quick installation.

Going Beyond BIM with BIM-Driven Robotic Layout

BIM is the first step in designing accurate construction plans, while BIM-to-field layout using robotic technology is the next step for ensuring accuracy all the way through construction. Using BIM data, Dusty’s FieldPrinter autonomously prints a full-scale BIM layout onto the construction site surface. By printing multiple trade layouts at the same time, you can improve construction speed, efficiency, and accuracy, while preventing the need for expensive rework.  

See how Dusty Robotics’ BIM-driven layout can help your team save time and money.

Dusty Robotics Team
Contact Us
February 13, 2023