Virtual World

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Engaging in a dialogue with a building and its data still sounds futuristic. But Building Information Modelling (BIM), an emerging data-based approach to constructing and maintaining buildings, entails just that – and can provide planners and property companies with major benefits.

public hospitals
and medical service facilities are operated by Helse Vest. The Norwegian group is based in Stavanger and provides medical care for around a million people.

Sean Aasheim, project manager at Aareon’s Norwegian company, Oslo-based Incit AS, can sum up quite succinctly what makes BIM stand out as a method: “control, clarity, accurate scaling and pricing.” Building Information Modelling allows facilities to be planned, constructed and managed with the aid of a dynamic 3D model. Even during the project planning and construction phases, the software is populated with information on the building’s design, materials and installations. When data is added or updated, the visualisation is adjusted automatically. Whereas a technical drawing would formerly have to be revised in an elaborate procedure, BIM simply recalculates the entire graphic dynamically. The resulting benefits include accurate scheduling and costing, as well as greater legal certainty in terms of the formal obligation to furnish proof.

Whereas BIM has yet to become standard practice in Germany and many other countries, Scandinavia’s property industry has been benefiting from it for some time. The major Norwegian healthcare provider Helse Vest, which operates hospitals and various other medical service facilities, uses software from Incit. And although its full potential has yet to be tapped, plans are afoot to expand the application, as department head Gro Jofrid Aarli explains:


What is your experience of working with BIM?
Aarli: We started using BIM for new building projects some years ago and now even tackle major reconstruction and renovation projects with help from BIM. Although we’re not using BIM in facility management just yet, we’ve launched a project to develop a BIM strategy that aims to make better use of the data we extract from the construction process. Once we’ve finished implementing the Incit Xpand ERP solution in April 2017, we want to get together with our experts at Incit to identify ways of populating Incit Xpand with even more information from the BIM model.

Incit Xpand is a property management system to which captured BIM data can be transferred automatically. This is done via Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), the leading open standard for storing and transferring building models. In this way, property management companies receive accurate, standardised data without the risk of manual data transfer errors. “Xpand users can view the BIM model in 2D as a separate module or in relation to other modules. For example, they can highlight a certain building and have the corresponding cleaning plan displayed alongside,” explains Aasheim.

As far as he’s concerned, the benefits of BIM are obvious: greater efficiency and better dynamics. The Incit expert believes that the advantage lies not only in applying the model dynamically in the planning and construction phases, but also in managing and networking all the parties involved. For example, installed sensors can alert the system directly to pending maintenance work or defects. The more information a manager has on the status of his facilities, the easier it is to allocate repair jobs. Tradespeople welcome the precise information accompanying their orders, while tenants and owners benefit from the well-kept condition of the properties in question.


How has BIM changed your daily working practices?
Aarli: BIM gives us more control over our buildings and construction projects. Our technical staff can call up any information on a property with a single click, while employees have access to installation notes, product information and other details regarding the relevant building.


How has networking changed, both in-house and externally?
Aarli: We can give planners much more detailed feedback and generally collaborate more closely. For example, our four hospitals are equipped with sensors. Although these sensors haven’t yet been linked to Xpand, they do share a common database. Employees can consequently exchange information more effectively.

Norway is in general extremely advanced in terms of technology. But the fact that BIM, in particular, has gained a stronger foothold here than in many other countries is due to the transfer of know-how: BIM and IFC have been commonplace in the oil industry for years. And other sectors are increasingly exploiting the know-how and expertise already gleaned in that industry. “Due to Norway’s tax laws, housing development companies have to use BIM in order to exercise full control over their buildings. It enables us to quote realistic prices and save a lot of money in construction projects,” says Aasheim.


Norway has a wealth of experience in BIM. What are the prospects for this model?
Aarli: In Norway, the bigger property owners and managers tend to use management systems that are unable to call up information electronically from building information models. That’s our biggest challenge. We believe that Incit and Aareon have the opportunity to become trailblazers in this field by further developing Incit Xpand. BIM is certainly going to be used more intensively in construction projects. In the longer term, we also envisage providing our tenants and building users with 3D models rather than drawings when we want to give them an impression of how a project is progressing. In short, we can see BIM having numerous applications.

If data is entered into the BIM software during the project-planning and construction phases, administrative staff can efficiently build on it later.
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