The confusion in BIM discussions and implementations can be dramatically reduced by systematically analysing the larger-than-life concept. We’ll do that by subdividing Building Information Modelling into its basic components and then relate them back to each other in a – hopefully – meaningful and useful way.
As discussed in BIM Episode 6, there are three dimensions to every BIM discussion. The first dimension is what I term BIM Nodes – BIM circles if you wish – and it’s responsible for identifying industry’s stakeholders and their deliverables. The other two dimensions, BIM Stages and BIM Lenses, will be discussed in following posts.
So what do these BIM Nodes (Update: now called BIM Fields) represent and why are they needed?
The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry includes a great number of ‘industry players’: owners, designers, regulators, builders and product/service providers. These ‘industry players’ in turn generate even a greater number of ‘industry deliverables’: designs, specifications, tools, construction products and specialised services. With careful inspection, all these players and deliverables can be grouped into three identifiable yet overlapping circles (Figure 7.1):
· The BIM Policy circle includes all players responsible for generating standards, guidelines and contracts. These include AEC regulatory bodies, educational institutions and the like.
· The BIM Process circle includes all players directly responsible for delivering buildings and other construction products: schools, bridges, shopping centres, etc...These include owners, designers, contractors and whoever is involved in a project’s lifecycle.
· The BIM Technology group includes developers of tools necessary for the creation and management of building information models and other design-construction-operation technologies. These include software developers, equipment suppliers and product/service providers active within the AEC industry.
Figure 7.1: the BIM framework includes three interlocking Fields (circles) - Updated May 10, 2016 (Original Version)
Each circle includes a specific set of players who interact with each other and with players within other circles. As an example, Designers interact with Builders to generate Facilities– this is an internal interaction within the Process Node. Also Designers interact with Fire Authorities and other Regulatory Bodies to insure conformity with respective standards and codes – this is an external interaction between Process and Policy Nodes. Both types of interactions take the form of Push-Pull transfers between players (Figure 7.2). We’ll be discussing ‘product and knowledge transfers’ in other posts but for now consider AIs (Architect Instruction) and RFIs (Request For Information) as two examples of this push-pull behaviour.
Figure 7.2: Push-Pull interactions between industry players (External and Internal respectively) - Updated May 10, 2016 (Original Version)
BIM Nodes and sub-nodes not only interact but they also overlap. Overlapping occurs when players or groups work (or need to work) together to form a joint industry body (think of RAIA, IAI and similar organisations) or generate a joint industry deliverable. As an example, Policy and Technology circles overlap when their players work together to generate interoperability standards (IFCs are a striking example). Also, all three nodes overlap (or need to overlap) to generate National or International BIM Guidelines.
So really the importance of BIM Nodes – the first dimension of the BIM framework - lies in identifying interactions and overlaps between industry players. Once identified, it will be much easier to generate better modular manuals and more comprehensive BIM guidelines.
Update (July 20, 2015): A video now available explaining BIM Fields (previously BIM Nodes) on the BIM Framework's YouTube channel: