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4D BIM; what does it mean and what are the benefits?

4D planning and BIM are becoming prominent in the delivery and management of the built environment. The need to co-ordinate and communicate between stakeholders is vital to success.
Also, with projects susceptible to time overruns, cost and high safety risk, it has become increasingly paramount to plan ahead and challenge conventional construction methodologies.
Contractors, construction managers and engineers are relying on 4D construction techniques to drive value in workflows.

What is 4D Building Information Modeling (BIM)?

Building Information Modeling (BIM), is the process of creating and managing information for a build asset. It is a collaborative process that allows construction professional including architects, engineers, manufacturers and contractors to plan, design and construct a building using 3D models as the data hub.
4D BIM is the process of combining 3D models with time and schedule-related information such as programmes and logistic models to create a virtual construction sequence.
In simple words, 4D BIM = 3D models + time information. The integration of time to the model improves the value added to project teams, bringing the gap between design and construction.
For further information on 4D planning, read our blog on “4D planning is extracting new value form BIM software”.

What are the benefits of 4D BIM?

  • Develop a deeper understanding of the project plan and how it will become a reality by using 3D to visualise the build sequence.
  • Provide a clear understanding of project deliverables, timescales and methodology, which in return leads to a safer design and construction processes.
  • Demonstrate a virtual representative of the construction process, leading to the identification of risks and issues before they become expensive mistakes.
  • Keep track of changes made to a project and the impact these have on the timeline, thus minimising costly remedial work.
  • Bring the project to life by simulating the build in 3D, revolutionising the communication of build packages and simplifying the consultation process with stakeholders.
  •  Increase collaboration within the team, which have an impact on error and risk reduction.
    According to the British Standard Institution (2018), digital information modelling software with 4D capacity “ enhances the ability to foresee hazards & risk”.
  •  Provide a platform for improved planning and management of construction activities thus improving project coordination. For example, run different scenarios and test various construction methods, analysing the impact on cost and time.
  • Optimise the usage of space, by seeing where work is scheduled and how to make better use of the environment. In a post-Covid world, this can mean digital site briefings and demonstrations of working practices and procedures.

To truly unlock the benefits of 4D, it is vital to embed 4D into the project planning culture, rather than consider it a specialty, a “nice to have” or something to be done once and then forgotten. 4D has to become the standard approach to planning, meaning the usage of 4D enabled tools has to replace legacy planning tools.
Powerproject by Elecosoft is already utilised by 90% of the top UK contractors and includes a powerful 4D BIM module, designed to unlock these benefits without adding expensive, difficult to use software into the process.

Read more about how to adopt Powerproject BIM or join one of our upcoming webinars to see 4D in action.

What is the future of 4D BIM?

4D BIM is providing construction companies with an opportunity to demonstrate colleagues, customers and contractors the best way to run future projects with much greater clarity and understanding.
As more companies develop their digital transformation strategy, the use of 4D BIM technology will only increase, until it becomes essential for construction planning and management.
Already, we’re seeing the positive impact that better planning is having on project outcomes, by enabling construction companies to think outside the box. For example, when Willmott Dixon began scoping the University of Warwick’s new Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building, it used Powerproject by Elecosoft to pitch a modern construction methodology that involved prefabricating 50% of the building off-site.

The takeaway

As demonstrated above, 4D BIM brings important potential benefits to the construction industry; reduces safety risk, ability to foresee hazards, improved project planning, improved communication, increased collaboration and increased project visualisation.
After a slow start to digitalisation, 73% of the industry is now using BIM technology to manage construction work and deliver more projects on time and budget.

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