What are dimensions?
Linking extra ‘dimensions’ of data to your information models has the potential to give you a richer understanding of your construction project – how it will be delivered, what it will cost and how it should be maintained. Here we explore 3D, 4D, 5D and 6D BIM and show how adding extra information can make for more timely decisions and, ultimately, better buildings.
BIM dimensions are different to BIM maturity levels. They refer to the particular way in which particular kinds of data are linked to an information model. By adding additional dimensions of data you can start to get a fuller understanding of your construction project – how it will be delivered, what it will cost and how it should be maintained etc. These dimensions – 4D, 5D and 6D BIM – can all feasibly (but not necessarily) occur within a BIM Level 2 workflow.
3D (The shared information model)
3D BIM is perhaps the BIM we are most familiar with – the process of creating graphical and non-graphical information and sharing this information in a Common Data Environment (CDE). As the project lifecycle progresses this information becomes ever more rich in detail until the point at which the project data is handed over to a client at completion.
4D (Construction sequencing)
4D BIM adds an extra dimension of information to a project information model in the form of scheduling data. This data is added to components which will build in detail as the project progresses. This information can be used to obtain accurate programme information and visualisations showing how your project will develop sequentially.
Time-related information for a particular element might include information on lead time, how long it takes to install/construct, the time needed to become operational/harden/cure, the sequence in which components should be installed, and dependencies on other areas of the project.
Drawing on the components of the information model being able to extract accurate cost information is what’s at the heart of 5D BIM.
Considerations might include capital costs (the costs of purchasing and installing a component), its associated running costs and the cost of renewal/replacement down the line. These calculations can be made on the basis of the data and associated information linked to particular components within the graphical model. This information allows cost managers to easily extrapolate the quantities of a given component on a project, applying rates to those quantities, thereby reaching an overall cost for the development.
6D BIM (Project lifecycle information)
The construction industry has traditionally been focussed on the upfront capital costs of construction. Shifting this focus to better understand the whole-life cost of assets, where most money is proportionately spent, should make for better decisions upfront in terms of both cost and sustainability. This is where 6D BIM comes in.
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