BIM - the irreversible trend of CAD

In our context of Geo-Engineering, it is no longer novel BIM term (Building Information Modeling), which allows different real-life objects to be modeled, not only in their graphic representation but in their different stages of the life cycle. It means, that a highway, a bridge, a valve, a channel, a building, from its conception can have a file that identifies it, that contains its design, its construction process, affectation to the natural environment, operation, use, concession, maintenance, modifications, monetary value in time and even demolition.

Using the theoretical approach that is geofumando this topic, the maturation route of the BIM is associated with the advance of the necessary inputs for its development, the capabilities of the equipment for capture and information management (new and existing), the implementation of global standards, the data infrastructure and the modeling of the different evolutionary processes associated with the management of the territory. A challenge of the BIM is that it reaches a point when it includes an intrinsic relationship with the PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), where the manufacturing and services industry seeks to manage a similar cycle although with scopes that do not necessarily include the geospatial aspect.

A point of convergence of these two routes (BIM + PLM) is the concept of Smart Cities, where most large companies are looking at both the urgent demand of the big metropolis and the irreversible The inexhaustible human ingenuity in science and technology applied to decision-making.

Below, we detail some basic aspects and advances related to BIM and its relation with technological tools of popularized use.

The BIM Levels

Bew and Richards theorize the maturation path of BIM on four levels, including Level Zero, as seen in the graph. To clarify, that this is a route from the perspective of standardization, not so much of world adoption, for which there is much to talk about.

Smart cities

BIM Level 0 (CAD).

This corresponds to the Computer Aided Design, seen from the primitive perspective that we saw in the 80's years. For those times, the priorities were to take the technical drawing that was already done in sets of drawings, to digitalized layers. We remember as examples the birth of AutoCAD and Microstation in these times, that without detracting from the gigantic step, they did not do more than Drawings; its extensions said it (Drawing DWG, Design DGN). Perhaps the only software that I already visualized beyond was ArchiCAD, which from 1987 spoke about the Virtual Building, with the contempt of being of Hungarian origin in the years of the cold war. Also included in this stage is the management of non-georeferenced data from other applications related to project management, such as Budgets, Planning, legal management, etc.

BIM Level 1 (2D, 3D).

This happens in a past decade, in the maturity of the workspace that can already be called 2D. The construction in space 3D is also given, although in its primitive stages, we can remember how tedious it was with AutoCAD R13 and Microstation J. There was a visualization of the three-dimensional work, but they were still vectors constituted by arcs, nodes, faces and groupings of these. In the case of AutoDesk, versions such as SoftDesk integrated concepts such as surfaces from AutoCAD 2014, with which road designs and spatial analysis were made, but everything was behind a black box that solutions like EaglePoint made more «colorful«. Microstation already included Triforma, Geopack and AutoPlant under a similar logic, with space links of the engeneering-links type without consensus standardization.

This decade, even though the standardized Models and Objects concept did not exist, there is in fact a somewhat forced integration with the third-party solutions acquired for AEC, which includes Architecture, Construction, Geospatial, Industry, Manufacturing and Animation.

AutoDesk does not talk about BIM until the purchase of Revit in 2002, but the integration of solutions like Civil3D take much longer. In the case of Bentley, the input of the XFM (Extensible Feature Modeling) scheme is significant in Microstation 2004 and during the transition known as XM, third-party platforms are acquired, such as Heastad, RAM, STAAD, Optram, Speedikon, ProSteel, PlantWise, RM- LEAP Bridge and HevaComp. In 2008 Bentley launches Microstation V8i, where the XFM matures to the I-model as a collaboration standard.

BIM Level 2 (BIMs, 4D, 5 D)


The most difficult thing in this stage of BIM Level 2 has been the standardization; Especially because private companies put on buns and want to force others to use their own whims. In the case of software for the geospatial field, it has been free software that has made the force for standardization with the degree of consensus that now represents the Open Geospatial Consortium OGC. But in the CAD-BIM field, there has been no OpenSource initiative, such that to date the only free software with the potential to mature is LibreCAD, which is only at the 1 Level -If it is not that leaving the 0 Level. The private companies have released free versions, but the standardization towards the BIM has been slow, in the voice of some because of the imperialist monopoly.

It is significant the contribution of the British, that their habit of doing almost everything upside down, have led the British Standard, as are the codes BS1192: 2007 and BS7000: 4; These are so old from the paper planes to the BIM Level 1. The BS8541: 2 appears already in the digital model and in this decade the BS1192: 2 and BS1192: 3.

It is understandable why BentleySystems made the annual Infrastructure Conference and its award in London, the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 years; As well as the acquisition of companies with high portfolios of British clients -I even dare to think about the movement of the European headquarters from Holland to Ireland-.

Finally, in the OGC framework, it has been possible to move forward with several standards of consensus acceptance that point to BIM, especially the GML, from which examples such as InfraGML, CityGML and UrbanGML advance.

While many current efforts in this decade of the BIM Level 2 attempt to reach the management of the life cycle of the models, still can not be considered comprehensive or standardized, as well as the outstanding debts with the 4D and 5D that include the Programming of the Construction and Dynamic Estimation. The trends of the convergence of disciplines are notorious both in the merger / acquisition of companies and in the holistic vision for standardization.

BIM Level 3 (Integration, Lifecycle Management, 6D)

The level of integration expected in the BIM Level 3, already after 2020 includes somewhat utopian expectations of uniformity in standards: Common Data (IFC). Common Dictionaries (IDM) and Common Processes (IFD).

Smart cities

The adaptation of the Lifecycle is expected to lead to Internet of Things (IOT), Where not only the surface of the land is modeled, but also the machinery and infrastructures that are part of the buildings, the objects used for transport (movable goods), household goods, natural resources, all in the Life that applies to the public and private law action of the Owners, Gliders, Designers and Investors.

In the case of Bentley Systems, I remember seeing from the 2013 presentations in London, the integration of the two processes of the Project Definition Cycle:

  • PIM (Project Information Model) Breef - Concept - Definition - Design - Construction / Commission - Delivery / Closing
  • AIM (Asset Information Model) Operation - Use

It is an interesting vision, considering that these aspects are of the next decade, but that being advanced allow materialization of standardization. Despite having many vertical solutions, the CONNECT Edition service orientation creates Hub conditions within a single environment for which Microstation is the modeling tool, ProjectWise the project management tool and AssetWise the operation management tool , which closes the two important moments, Opex and Capex of the BS1192: 3.

It is also expected that at this stage the data will be considered as an infrastructure, which requires channels to be distributed, standardization to be fully usable, and of course that it is available in real time conditions with greater consumer participation.

Smart Cities is the incentive of BIM

Smart citiesThe challenge of the BIM Level 3 is that the disciplines converge no longer through file formats but through services from BIM-Hubs. An interesting exercise of that will be the Smart Cities, of which already cases of use as Compenhague, Singapoore, Johannesburg make interesting attempts to merge the e-government with the g-government, if we allow those terms. But it is also an interesting challenge, that in that environment of BIM Level 3, all human activity is modeled. This implies that aspects such as finance, education, health, and the environment are included within a cycle linked to spatial management. Of course, we will not see functional exercises of this kind in this decade, it is even questionable if they really happen in the medium term, if we consider that the aspirations are to ensure the improvement in the quality of life of the inhabitants of this planet -or at least of those cities- and the recovery of damages to the global ecosystem -Which does not depend on a few cities-.

Although the Smart Cities are not just around the corner, it is notorious what is happening with the big companies that control the technology.

HEXAGON, with the acquisition of companies such as Leica can control the data capture in the field, with the acquisition of Erdas + Intergraph can control the spatial modeling, now it is recently making a suspicious approach with AutoDesk to control the design, manufacture and animation. Not to mention all the companies included in that emporium, which point towards the same object.

On the other hand, Bentley controls the design, operation and cycle of a wide range of the Construction, Architecture, Civil and Industrial Engineering industry. However, Bentley does not seem interested in stealing space from others, and we see how it makes an alliance with Trimble that bought almost all the competitors related to the management and field modeling, SIEMENS that has a high control of the manufacturing industry and Microsoft that aims to move towards the data infrastructure -Not to be left out, because in this visionary environment has been lost with its Windows + Office

Wherever we see it, the big companies are betting on the BIM for its imminent potential in the three axes that will move the operation of Smart Cities: Production Media, Supply of Infrastructure and Innovation to new demands for products / services. Of course, giant monsters remain to align themselves to blocks, such as ESRI, IBM, Oracle, Amazon, Google, to mention some of those we know are interested in their own Smart Cities initiatives.

It is clear that the next business is the Smart Cities, under an integration of the BIM + PLM where there will not be a Microsoft that takes over the 95% of the market. This is a much more complex model, it is also foreseeable that companies that do not bet on that business will be left out doing CAD, Excel sheets and closed CRM systems. The businesses to be integrated are those that are not within the traditional life cycle of Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operation (AECO); those that control the other activities of the human being under a geo-referenced socio-economic approach, such as manufacturing, electronic government, social services, agricultural production and above all the management of energy and natural resources.

The GIS will be integrated into the BIM under the vision of Smart Cities. Currently they are almost merged in the capture and modeling of data, but it seems that they still have different visions; For example, infrastructure modeling is not the responsibility of the GIS, but it is very specialized in the analysis and modeling of space objects, in the projection of scenarios, in the management of natural resources and the full range of earth sciences. If we consider the Sixth Dimension (6D) that in the times of smart cities, quantify, use, recycle and generate energy will be important, then it will be necessary capacities that GIS now makes with great specialty. But to analyze the capacity to generate water from a basin, namely how much performance is necessary for a cubic meter of concrete there is a tremendous gap; that will be filled to the extent that the operation is included as a shared cycle of these two disciplines.

In conclusion.

GeophysicalThere is much more to talk about, and I hope to continue touching on this topic. For now, Geo-Engineering professionals are left with the challenge of aligning themselves to the irreversible and learning from the technical level, because it is still questionable if the Roadmap to implement BIM can be done without dependence on the Working Group that is leading. Above all, because the BIM has to be seen from two perspectives: One of things that must be done at the technical, academic, operational level, with a view to sustainability and then the optics of governments, which have expectations in too short a range , forgetting that their normative capacities are often extremely slow. Additionally, for those who are in cities that can already think about Smart Cities, it is urgent that there be a focus on citizens, rather than on technology.

???? If this scenario is fulfilled, the dream that one of my mentors will go ahead with, that hopes to plant 3,000 hectares of mahogany forest, with a certified life cycle associated with its growth, would become a reality; so he could go to the bank and mortgage the first plot to gradually finance the rest. In 20 years you will have one million cubic meters of an asset with which you can solve not only your retirement, but even the external debt of your country.

Leave an answer

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.