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BIM communication waste

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posted on 29.02.2016, 09:23 by George Charalambous
Developments in Information and Communication Technology can bring about significant improvements in the efficiency of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction and Facilities Management industry. Building Information Modelling (BIM), is a term which encompasses a type of software but more importantly a set of processes which, at their core, support an approach for integrated project delivery enabled by interoperable software systems. The last three years have seen intensified and coordinated adoption of BIM in the UK mainly as a result of the mandate of the UK government. One facet of these developments is the growing need for BIM collaboration tools which can interoperate effectively with the various BIM software systems, support the required standards and codes of practice and provide for requirements of construction project information production and management such as model-based workflows, model-based communication, model-based procurement, role-based data access and role-based privileges. The pre-requisites for collaboration can be broadly divided into two categories: (1) coordination of information and responsibilities, and (2) communication. This research recognizes the strong focus of recent and ongoing efforts to provide for coordination and aims to support the communication aspect. Additionally, successful collaborative practice results from (1) the "softer" or "human-aspect" issues: collaborative culture, software training and adherence to protocols as well as from (2) the provision of appropriate, intuitive and configurable collaboration tools and, more generally, digital collaboration environments. This research focuses on the latter. Despite efforts from a variety of software-as-a-service (SaaS) collaboration tool vendors to achieve dominance in the market, there is still uncertainty as to what type of solutions would best support BIM collaboration. Additionally, there is considerable variation in software configurations and a lack of a universally applicable method for evaluating the communication capabilities of BIM collaboration tools in a meaningful way. Vendors lack a robust conceptual framework to guide the long-term development of their tools and evaluate them. The process of requirements engineering, which in this context involves a diversity of stakeholders and involves projects at different BIM maturity levels would benefit significantly from a robust, context-specific conceptual model-ontology. The aim of this research is to produce a context-specific conceptual model-ontology which can support the discourse of requirements engineering and provide a robust and widely applicable framework for evaluating the communication capabilities of BIM collaboration tools. It is anticipated that this would help reduce BIM communication waste . To meet this aim, BIM collaboration tools were studied from five perspectives: 1. Users: their opinions, requirements and requests were collected through an online questionnaire survey. 2. Vendor: their perspective was captured through semi-structured interviews. 3. Schemata for interoperability: effectiveness of tools and schemata was evaluated through analysis of software by data fidelity study and scenario-based testing. 4. Tool use: patterns of digitally-enabled communication were explored through an analysis of communication data and meta-data collected from a collaboration tool. 5. Tool improvement: a successful approach in improving a collaboration tool was examined through the development of a context-specific requirements engineering process. This process was evaluated through semi-structured interviews with collaboration tool implementation consultants. Each perspective helped produce more specific requirements from the model as well as elements of the model itself. The end result was the Model for communication waste in BIM process interactions (WIMBIM). WIMBIM has the BIM process transmission as the fundamental unit of analysis and focuses on BIM communication waste and how it results from sub-optimal collaboration tools and schemata. The ultimate purpose of WIMBIM is to support the development of technology which would reduce this waste. This model was converted into a communicable format and was related to BIM standards to aid contextualization and gap identification. To evaluate the validity and utility of this model, interviews with BIM experts were conducted, and the proposed model was found to be a valid approach to address aspects of BIM waste, which is not usually examined and could potentially complement the existing model for BIM maturity. Additionally, the model provides a useful lens for further academic research into BIM collaboration tools.


EPSRC, Asite



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© George Charalambous

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Master's Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy of Loughborough University.