What is BIM

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling. The BIM process is complex and consists of several simultaneous and subsequent processes aimed at creating a 3D-model of the future construction and drawing up its graphical representation. An important feature is that the system also accounts for the properties and measurements of all of the building’s components. Using that data, the software can compile blueprints, analyze the building’s status, plan construction schedules, predict unforeseen situations, detect flaws and eliminate them preemptively. Thus BIM is not a static model, but a dynamic one, showing the best possible adjustments to the structure and allowing to find a better design solution to save resources. During the design stage, it can be used to evaluate the effects of the building on surrounding infrastructure and the changes in surrounding environment after construction. BIM also helps simulate the work of all the utility systems, choose construction materials and even calculate the project’s costs. More so, the technology allows real-time tracking of the construction process and foreseeing the possible outcomes of changes done to the various aspects of the structure.

“For instance, you can use BIM to automatically calculate the thermal stress on the building’s elements with regard to the geographical location, which allows us to find the most optimal ways to accommodate the heat-load. We can also use the calculations to optimize energy supply and heat systems by looking up the most efficient place for placing the heat sources. We use BEM (Building Energy Modeling) technology to evaluate the energy performance of the project. BIM is not just about the design stage, it covers the whole life cycle of a building including its operation. Even now, monitoring systems are being integrated into various large-scale projects, like stadiums. Those systems allow detection and analysis of changes in structural geometry and can predict the possible effects of these changes” – explains Philip Perepelitca, Head of ITMO University’s International Science and Educational Center "Autodesk".

Philip Perepelitsa

Why the country needs BIM

According to a report by McGraw Hill Construction, in North America companies that use BIM have reduced the number of errors during construction by 52% and the duration of construction by 39%. They also demonstrated a number of other improvements beneficial to the effectiveness of construction. According to Russian Ministry of Construction’s predictions, BIM use will decrease the construction companies’ expenses by 20-30%. For instance, the use of BIM in design and construction of a nuclear power station had lessened the costs by 1,687 billion rubles: one billion saved thanks to cutting the construction period by five months and the other 687 million was saved through optimization of organizational and technological solutions. In comparison, the cost of development of the informational model was 18 million rubles. That is why the adoption of the system by the country’s economic industry is curated by state and is one the Ministry’s top priorities. The first stage of the plan is to require companies working on government projects model their buildings only using BIM. It is expected that later all projects will be made in this new format.

How BIM is used in Russia and abroad

“Our country’s industry is only now becoming acquainted with BIM. The issue is that not all players on the market fully understand the meaning of this technology and what kinds of specialists are needed to use it. In developed countries like Canada, UK and Singapore specialists are working not with the first, but the second or third iterations of the system – comments Mr. Perepelitsa – Those companies have three positions for BIM experts: BIM- managers, coordinators and modelers”.

Credit: inthefold.autodesk.com

A BIM-manager controls the design process, prepares and enforces BIM-standards. BIM-standards are the accepted and required design regulations of a country, company, or particular project. Russia does not yet have national standards, even though templates for some of them are already available at Autodesk’s website, which is, among other things, involved in promotion of BIM. BIM-modelers create the actual building elements and are responsible for the project’s library of design families; BIM-coordinators are responsible for troubleshooting the project designers’ team work and timely correction of project conflicts.

It is a safe bet that in many companies these three positions will, at first, be replaced with just one. One of the companies that have adopted and has been using BIM actively since 2012 is “Etalon Group”, one of Russia’s longest-standing and biggest real estate developers. In collaboration with the group’s engineering company “Research and Development Center “Etalon”, ITMO University has launched a professional training program “Development and Management of Projects via Building Information Modeling Technology”. The students will be taught the skills of BIM-related work and other things.

What the BIM course is all about

The program lasts 275 academic hours and is separated into six stages, one being the final qualification project. The first stage focuses on the process of implementation of a BIM project in construction. Two stages are about BIM project management. A stage is dedicated to working on projects in AutoCAD – blueprint design software – and another one to working with information modeling software Autodesk Revit. Students can sign up for the whole course as well as for a particular stage only. 

Credit: sightline-group.com

The parts of the course related to automatized design systems are taught by ITMO University specialists, while “Etalon Group” employees teach the courses focused on practical applications of BIM. Graduates will receive internationally recognized Autodesk certificates. This course is intended for construction industry workers with knowledge and experience in this field, but it also serves as a kind of a demo-version of the Master’s Degree program “Information Modeling of Products and Buildings Life Cycles” that ITMO University is planning to launch in 2018.

“Several construction companies, “Etalon Group” among them, are interested in training BIM technology experts. These companies are open to providing internships for Master’s degree students, while their employees are ready to teach courses. BIM technologies provide fresh ground for scientific research. For example, one of ITMO’s Master’s students is already working on creation of BIM models for construction companies. The thing here is that some companies don’t need “full” models, but only some of their components. The second possible field of research is software optimization of BIM processes for different algorithms. In both cases one would need to analyze the available data and create more specific products” – explains Philip Perepelitsa.

The first round of applications for professional training program “Development and Management of Projects via Building Information Modeling Technology” has already come to a close. The second round will begin next autumn.