BIM Quality Assurance - The key to success
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process to analyze different aspects of the entire project lifecycle – from conceptual design to operations, on a virtually constructed model representing the real facility. Design coordination, visualizations, construction sequence planning, sustainability analysis, quantity take-off, progress monitoring, analysis of operation and maintenance data, etc. are some of the examples of the types of processes that BIM can support. For these processes to be successful, the main pre-condition would be the correct input; in this case the building information model. A wrong input will provide a wrong output. Thus, controlling the quality of the two fundamental aspects of BIM – the data and the 3D model, are critical for all processes of BIM.
Why is quality so important?
Building information models evolve during the project duration. They are built for different purposes by different stakeholders. The models built by one team, may require to be updated by another team to put it to a different use. This requires that multiple stakeholders are collaborating and sharing information with each other in an organized and open way. But often, the information is at risk of being manipulated or misinterpreted by different project participants, putting the use of BIM at risk. Thus, it is important that the BIM requirements are set in a written document and are contractually agreed by all parties in the project. It will be then each team leader’s task to ensure that their team is following these specifications with due diligence and providing the desired deliverables. Providing quality output is a way to establish trust among the project participants, without which the project will end up in dispute or delays.
What are the main challenges?
BIM is a combination of people, processes, policies and technology. All of these aspects must be managed in order to achieve the quality desired in a defined BIM workflow. Due to the fact that there are always multiple parties involved in a typical BIM project, communication is one of the major challenges in monitoring and controlling the quality. Project participants may be working from different locations in the world having their differences in time, culture, language and work methodologies. To avoid delays occurring from miscommunication or misinterpretations, regular project meetings shall be arranged between team members. Documenting the standards and specifications is also an important step to bridge the communication gap.
BIM is a constantly evolving subject. New innovative ideas and products are pouring into the market continuously. Assessment of the technology and its training must be provided to the team before the project begins. Often, the people working on the project do not have the right tools (hardware and software) and training to execute the tasks efficiently. This negatively impacts the project schedule as well as the quality standards. In projects with tight deadlines, it has been observed that the people are working under immense pressure while creating the building information models. There is not enough time given for checking or assessing the outcome based on the project guidelines. This has a direct impact on quality. On projects where large amounts of information are required to be integrated with, a building information model, human errors are also likely to occur more frequently than otherwise. Taking the advantage of the latest technologies and bringing automation into routine processes of modeling as well as checking, not only increases efficiency but also allows the modeling team to focus on improving quality.
‘Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.’ – John Ruskin
The benefits of BIM can only be reaped if the two fundamental components – the information and the model, are created accurately as per the project’s requirements. To achieve this, quality control needs to become an integral part of the process. To maintain the trust amongst stakeholders and avoid delays due to misinterpretations, clear BIM requirements shall be agreed and quality standards must be set at the very beginning. Even though within tight deadlines quality control may sound like a burden, it is indeed a necessary evil that requires an organized approach to achieve reliable results and benefits out of building information modeling.