If the process is not accessible in the field it has no purpose
Software vs. process
The most common mistake in the AEC industry about BIM is probably that saying that BIM is a model. What is BIM? National Building Information Modeling Standard (NBIMS) vision for BIM is “an improved planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance process using a standardized machine-readable information model for each facility, new or old, which contains all appropriate parametric information created or gathered about facility useable by all throughout its lifecycle.” So, clearly, BIM is a process.
However, in practice, it is easy for people to simply mistake BIM as a software. People are calling that they implement BIM technology when they start using BIM software, like using Revit to establish parametric model, or using Naviswork to conduct clash detection. BIM software do help project manager team generate various models and analysis report. But they are just part of the story. Failure in recognizing BIM as a process will make you lost in various kinds of BIM software. One of the obstacles for BIM development is just the fragmented information carried by different models (for one project) and low efficiency in information exchanged, which means that it is hard for diverse users to get what they need quickly and cheaply.
Managing construction is definitely a dynamic process. Locking the BIM process in the desktop limits its interaction with real-time construction management. In perfect situation, management team would expect each analysis to reflect real-time problem and provide corresponding solutions. But the fact is that, currently, general BIM systems are expensive and complex, requiring long learning curve. It takes a long of time and manpower to input data and process model. Besides, site-specific feature isolates BIM from people who have first-hand information, like superintendent. For example, information from field has to go through several layers before it goes to the hands of BIM experts, during which most value has already been lost in multiple exchanges.
Well connected in cloud
Utilizing the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) of Cloud Computing to develop an interactive system can manipulate BIM models through the web without time and distance limitations, providing user-friendly web services for the various project participants, including construction companies, business owners and architectural companies, to access and view project information effectively and efficiently through multi-device.
Cloud computing liberate BIM from one device limitation. Multi-devices access let the entire team participants in one project to view project information, keeping everybody in the same page in real time.
Imagine, when you are walking around the site, carrying a 3D model with schedule and cost data as a reference for inspecting actual work, how easy life will be to get rid of layers of drawings with colorful sketchy notes. All Comments and changes made to that model can also be simultaneously viewed by all other authorized users. There will be no unnecessary emails flying into your mailbox or pages of obscure documents handed to you every day just for information notice.
BIM in cloud enhances the information and data collection process through connecting every participants together and gathering everyone’s idea into one place. This breaks the dilemma of traditional BIM systems where fragmented and out of date information is actually lagging decisions-making process.
Whether we are able to truly enjoy the benefits of bring everyone together without time and distance location in one cloud depends on if everyone would like to use it. Now we understand the importance of cloud computing to BIM, but how to structure a NEW CLOUD-BASED BIM system will be the next key topic.