Why BIM needs the cloud for true online collaboration

Why BIM needs the cloud for true online collaboration

Or: why cloud computing will make level 3 BIM maturity a reality soon

The construction industry has a tradition of silos. Throughout the course of a project, different groups come together to work on specific stages - be that the initial design, project planning, or the construction itself. Each of these groups have traditionally created and hoarded their own knowledge - and information is not easily shared.

As a result, misunderstandings are frequent and projects often overrun. And this is where Building Information Modelling (BIM) comes in. This (relatively) new approach is intended to share information between project stakeholders much more efficiently using the latest technology and project management processes.

The problem is that BIM is still far from widespread. Due to its upfront costs and complexity, it is only major construction firms that have really adopted the new technique, and it is more often used during the planning and design stages - and much less on construction sites.

For the BIM model to truly reach its potential, it needs to become a lot easier to access projects designs throughout the entire process. And the cloud meets that need.

What is BIM?

 BIM is a new approach to building project management which aims to share 3D models of a project between different stakeholders. It allows CAD designers to test out every aspect of a building and effectively do a test run before the real-world project begins. Because all information about materials, space and dimensions are shared, there is much less risk of confusion or misunderstandings. However, although BIM adoption is rising, it is far from the dominant model in construction worldwide.

Whether it is reduced risk, cutting costs, improved safety or fewer reworks, the benefits of BIM are impossible to ignore.  But until information about projects can be shared seamlessly between all stakeholders, BIM’s potential just cannot be achieved. The good news is that the cloud can help.

How the cloud helps BIM

There is no single technology which encompasses all BIM. Indeed, it is as much about processes and people as it is about IT. That said, using cloud technology makes it a lot easier to succeed with BIM. Here's how:

Access CAD models anytime, anywhere

BIM often works well at the early stages of a project, when the building is still in the design stage. CAD designers and architects from different companies can share information on the technical side of construction. However, when it comes to the actual construction of the building, BIM’s collaborative approach often fails to translate. Builders on the ground still cannot easily get questions to their answers about a blueprint and much information is still communicated via phone calls and email.

CAD in the cloud helps overcome this problem. Construction teams can interact with a 3D model on site to immediately understand what the architect intended, thereby avoiding miscommunications.

Better collaboration between stakeholders

Throughout the course of any construction project, multiple groups will need to interact and share information. BIM aims to make this easier by using a single hub for project plans. However, without a unified view of the construction model itself, there can still be misunderstandings.

CAD in the cloud makes this much more fluid. You have a single location where all designs are kept. Employees from different companies can access the plans, collaborate freely and monitor version changes.

Lower upfront costs

One of the big obstacles for BIM adoption is that very often the technology is expensive. For smaller contractors at later stages of the building project, investing in this technology is a real burden.

But once again, CAD in the cloud helps by cutting technology costs. Contractors can use cloud-based subscription services for CAD software to view and understand building models - and only pay for what they need.

Better building

BIM is an exciting development for the entire construction industry - from architects to CAD designers to contractors, it should make the industry more efficient and more productive. And by using the cloud to work on and share design models, BIM can really achieve its potential.