In this article we will analyse one of the biggest trends in the digitalisation of the construction sector: BIM methodology and how SAP Concrete can help us make our projects more efficient.

What is BIM?

BIM (Building Information Modelling) is one of the most innovative and promising pieces of technology in the construction sector today.

Unlike many others we can think of, BIM is more than a simple data format or 3D modelling tool. It is a collaborative working methodology for the creation and management of construction projects that enables end-to-end analysis and management from the initial phases to the end of its useful life and aids decision-making by all construction project participants (developer, constructor, architect, engineer, and so on).

Construction projects have faced two main problems in recent years:

  1. Lack of interoperability between collaborator software, and all the barriers that throws up in terms of exchanging information.
  2. The unique conditions of the construction sector, widely evidenced by cost overruns and extended deadlines, influenced by design changes, scheduling, risk uncertainty, lack of communication and so on, which, in turn, affect price, deadlines, and even quality.

The BIM methodology has been developed to minimise all these problems and consolidate all the relevant information concerning a construction project in one single place for subsequent analysis and management. What’s more, this information, included in the modelling, can be modified, extracted, entered, and updated, which allows for responses to all changes that may happen over the project lifecycle (in other words, it isn’t a snapshot of the initial phase of the project in the way that a printed plan is).

For a better of idea of what all this means, we just have to think of the following example: to date, walls have been sketched on a 2D plan using 4 lines. In BIM systems, a wall is a unique element including graphic and non-graphic information. The graphic information provides numerous views which allow the same wall to be viewed from different perspectives and if a decision is made to change it, it will automatically be modified in each one. This automatic modification ensures savings in reworking and reduces inconsistencies between different views.

What is IFC?

IFC is a global, open, standardised data format for the exchange of data between different software systems, similar to a PDF file applied to BIM, which is intended to boost interoperability between different programmes.

In BIM, software from different companies (ArchiCAD, Revit, and so on) can be used and the IFC format acts as a bridge when exchanging valid information, regardless of the software being used.

IFC has been designed to produce all the building information throughout its lifecycle, including final documents such as assembly instructions, maintenance information, repair instructions, and so on.

The need for IFC and BIM

As BIM has become mandatory in certain public sector bidding processes, IFC is even more important as bid specifications cannot stipulate the use of a specific software brand. The only option, therefore, is adapting to the single, standardised IFC format.

This means that from now on public bodies will request the plans in PDF format and the IFC file of the BIM model.

BIM dimensions

“Dimensions” are one of the most important concepts in BIM. These are basically collections of information of a specific type that differentiate project phases based on the nature of the data.

They can be briefly summarised in the following manner:

The first dimension, 3D, relates to the graphic design phase.
Next, we can form a central block in which we would place 4D and 5D, which cover the project construction process.
Lastly, 6D and 7D concern environmental analysis and management of the construction lifecycle.

SAP concrete 3.0

The Concrete tool, developed by Sothis and certified by SAP as a standardised vertical solution for the sector, is aimed at the planning and management of project execution in timeframes, measurements, unit prices, performance, resources and costs, and the management of certification held by external companies such as subcontractors, industrial firms, and so on.

Furthermore, all this execution management can be carried out over the full lifecycle of the project, which makes it possible to restructure the project at any time, by updating the projected unit costs to the prices actually paid, and perform monthly progress-based costs forecasts, production oversight, and inventory management. All this information can be exchanged with other 4D and 5D software such as Arquímedes, Presto, MS-Project, and so on.

Sothis has made great progress in this area through its vertical Concrete solution and has moved with the times in the sector by making it possible to integrate with BIM methodology as its 3.0 software manages the 4D and 5D dimensions, which are the planning and cost management phases of the project, respectively.