Building Information Modelling (BIM): The Core Concept and the Benefits

Ahmad Tarmizi Haron, A.J. Marshall-Ponting, Zuhairi Abd Hamid, Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar, Shahrin Hashim, Nazri Abd Wahab 

Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP), University of Salford, Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM) and IPMS Sdn Bhd

The uptake of Building Information Modelling (BIM) within the context of Malaysian Construction Industry is still relatively new. Although the software was commercially available as early as in year 2002, the momentum of BIM was only evidenced a couple of years back. Since then, many efforts were driven, noticeably on the awareness program and some of the organizations are courageous enough to start piloting it on a real project.
The infancy stage of uptake however has created many confusion and disparity of understanding about what BIM really is in term of its definition, technology, process and new roles. The existence of international technical report, guideline or best practice which should help in reducing the disparity however has exacerbated the situation than rectifying due to the difference in technical terminology and process flow in which country BIM resided in. Therefore, before explaining the benefits of BIM, some common understandings need to be explained further. They are; the definition of BIM, what is BIM tool and BIM stages of implementation

The simple way to define BIM is “Modelling technology and associated set of process to produce, communicate and analyse building model”. Meanwhile the building model is defined as, representation of the building virtually where the physical characteristics of the project and all information are contained or attached to the component of the model.

BIM Tools
In both definitions, one should understand that the heart of the BIM technology lies on the use of 3D parametric authoring tools as object based modelling software. The definition of 3D parametric authoring tools could add another confusion for the reader, therefore to make it simple, by product, listed below are the list of software that is categorised as 3D parametric authoring tools:
·                     Revit (Structure, Architecture, M&E)
·                     Bentley (Structure, Architecture, M&E)
·                     ArchiCAD
·                     Tekla
·                     BoCAD

BIM Implementing Stage
In implementing BIM, the result from the case study has shown that the process takes place in a stage by stage manner where one stage is a pre-requisite to another. Skipping to advance stage of BIM tend to cause more trouble since BIM require more than just technical competency. Interoperable BIM, BIM cloud, 4D modeling, 5D modeling are all example of advance application which reveal the true potential of BIM.
However, one should understand, the time taken to achieve that level is not happening overnight and yet again must go through a series of stages. The question is what are the stages and what is the focus that we should be directed at. Below are the summary of the stages:

Internationally, country like Australia, U.K and U.S are all currently at stage two and that is why currently on BIM internationally report, they are started to talk about network based integration or as a tool, cloud BIM.
The Current State of Implementation in Malaysia

In Malaysia, the industry is still at the Pre-BIM stage and therefore the focus must be given at Stage 1: Developing the Competency of Object Based Modeling. What is meant by the competency at this stage is the ability of the BIM designer to operate BIM software such as authoring 3D model, extracting and setting up the template of the drawings, developing the component library and etc. Therefore, at the industrial level, the market must be flooded with technically competence people so that BIM could progress further.
In this context, CIDB roles is becoming critical to provide an awareness program, technical course, the task force or steering committee and to create the demand by regulating the use of BIM within the industry. All over the world, BIM research has proven that government led BIM helps speeding up the uptake of BIM as can be seen in Finland and U.S.

The Benefits of BIM Implementation

BIM is an integrated process that allows professionals in our industry to explore project’s key physical and functional characteristics digitally – before it is built.

BIM allows design innovative project from earliest stage

BIM promotes sustainable construction due to the reduction of waste due to unforeseen problems at site

BIM allows the project team to visualise, simulate and analyse real world appearance, performance and cost, thus improve overall project performance

BIM initiate effort to document accurately. Project teams can also use information contained in the models to perform a variety of complementary tasks, including energy or environmental analysis, visualization, construction simulation, and improving the accuracy of documentation

BIM can helps the project team to deliver project faster, more economically and reduce environmental impact

BIM helps our construction stakeholders apply the same approach to building and infrastructure projects. Unlike CAD, which uses software tools to generate digital 2D and/or 3D drawings, BIM facilitates a new way of working: creating designs with intelligent objects. Regardless of how many times the design changes—or who changes it—the data remains consistent, coordinated, and more accurate across all stakeholders

BIM enables better decisions; faster BIM reduces the abstraction and integrates the multiple disciplines, including design and documentation. And BIM integrates plans, sections, details, graphics, and data in ways not possible in 2D

In the operation phase, BIM creates obtainable concurrent information on performance of the project; and the economic aspects of the project.

The Way Forward

To push BIM forward, therefore the example of BIM benefits in general are provided. Kindly refer to Table 1 below for the main and co-benefits that BIM offer to project implementation. The focus however is given on stage 1 and 2 justifying the current capability level of the industry.

Interference checking and avoidance, clash detection, conflict resolution
Avoids headaches of rework, paybacks to subs; results in fewer callbacks, lower warranty costs
Team members start earlier in the process
Fosters a greater sense of involvement, input, being “at the table”
Takes less time overall
Allows more time to design than coordinating drawings
STAGE 1, 2
Increases productivity; cuts man-hours and manpower by reducing team size
Reduces length of documentation phase        
Increases coordination
Gives rise to professionals who think more globally; reduces need for field coordination by subcontractors
Fewer RFIs and change orders
Smoother construction phase
Improved cost control
Aligns budget and building
Recent graduates work alongside experienced designers and train younger team members
Emerging architects just starting out learn how buildings come together earlier in career
Robust modeling tool changes the playing field
Small firms can operate like large firms
Analyze and visualize project digitally before it is constructed
More cohesive integrated design
Design visualization; accurately visualize building appearance
More easily communicates design intent
Simulates real-world performance
Improves understanding of building characteristics
STAGE 2, 3
Ensures well-coordinated documents
Results in higher-quality documentation and fewer claims
Design input occurs earlier in process
Opportunity to impact cost and functional capabilities; measurable ROI for users
Energy analysis
Determines building element location in terms of function
Information management
Manages the operations of the facility
Improved data sharing; increased interoperability for all project team members
Reduces communication costs, errors, and omissions         
4D BIM modeling
Communicates relocation of tenants to tenants during renovation, simulate construction sequence
More accurate estimates; evaluate project in terms of impact on building
More time in design phase (designing, not just uploading information)
Less time on construction documents, saves owners money, reduces schedule
Ease of creating 3D views
Helps tell the story to communicate design intent and project goals


Ahmad Haron said...

We would want to acknowledge that the BIM stages used in the post is taken from an academic research that was conducted by a well known BIM consultant in Australia, which also a closed friend to us, Dr. Bilal Succar. For further reading, kindly refer to:


Kindest regards
Ahmad Tarmizi Haron

Dr. Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar said...


Dominick Williams said...

Great research by Dr. Succar! I would like to commend you for clearing this one out for everyone. They may be other people who are getting really confused about BIM, especially on its stages. It’s great that you provided us with an illustration as well. Thanks!

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