Structural design using BIM (Building Information Modelling) 3D technology is not something new. The novelty is to operate structures using the same 3D model. It is true that construction works of this kind are almost non-existent in Lithuania, and therefore the “ŽALI” shopping and service centre is an exceptional case.
The general contractor, Eikos statyba UAB, which is carrying out the work on SSC “ŽALI”, is one of several Lithuanian construction companies actually using BIM technology in the construction process. Justinas Augustinas, the project coordinator and company engineer involved in BIM projects, provided more information about the practical BIM processes currently being implemented in Balsiai. According to him, the real work with BIM starts when the 3D model ends, as spatial modelling has been used for quite a while now in designing buildings, but is an entirely new experience as regards drawings for construction work.
Project Mistakes are Eliminated
As J. Augustinas pointed out, the main advantage of the BIM model from the perspective of a builder is the possibility of detecting and removing incorrect construction or communication intersections in drawings. When working with regular 2D drawings, undesirable intersections would become apparent only during the construction work. The work would then have to be suspended and defects removed on site: for example, inconsistencies in the overlay height or the intersections of building communications (pipelines, cables, etc.) in unexpected locations. Earlier, these situations used to be everyday occurrences in construction work. Now they are avoidable. In addition, removing such intersections in projects is significantly cheaper than on a construction site, and the work is therefore performed faster and more smoothly.
The Drawing Contains More Information
If a spatial BIM model is to be relied on during construction, it is important that it contain additional significant information. According to the Eikos statyba engineer, a spatial drawing must first of all contain more comprehensive information about the quantities and properties of the materials used. For example, information about the material’s resistance to bending and compression, its surface texture – ability to reflect light or absorb sound, and also other physical properties as necessary. The smart drawing thus enables one to see the selected and required materials, to order them immediately and to manage quantities.
Increased Work Efficiency
Eikos statyba only recently started working on the “ŽALI” BIM project – in March. During this short time, the company personnel have been engaged in a learning process to make working with BIM as efficient as possible. J. Augustinas emphasized that the main challenge was to coordinate the calendar for the construction schedule and construction project financial flows in real time. By using the “ŽALI” BIM model, Eikos statyba employees learned to plan construction schedules, to organize the demand for materials and ordering quantities, to predict flows, and in addition to save internal resources.
J. Augustinas listed the advantages: “Now every day we can see in real time all the work that is done and under way. This makes work easier for our company project managers, as they no longer need to prepare monthly reports that can now be produced by simply pressing several buttons. The most important aspect is financial graphs in reports reflecting the essential indicators of company business activity,”
In addition, a project manager can see the daily progress of construction work in the BIM model: how the project looks today, compared with project tasks, and determine whether work is being carried out according to schedule. BIM does not replace the construction management process, but it helps to prepare effectively for the construction, i.e. accurately calculate the quantities of construction materials without minimum error. Using traditional calculation methods, the quantities of materials had to be increased by 20 per cent in order to avoid shortages.
Automated Employee Control
At present, modern machinery control methods, such as a coordination system via GPS devices, have not been used in “ŽALI” construction work; however, it is planned in the near future to automate supplier transport control and accounting for employees and their working time on the construction site. Transport movement data will be related to the type and quantity of delivered materials and will be entered into the BIM model where they will be recorded as revenues or costs. Employee working time will be automatically recorded by the Personnel Department and the data will be entered into the BIM model.
An Eikos statyba specialist commented: “As general contractors, our goal in working with BIM models is to engage more subcontractors who are able to actually use the BIM model, because now the supply is very limited.”
In the future, after construction of the “ŽALI”shopping centre is completed, the most difficult stage of BIM implementation awaits: operating the building. J. Augustinas stated that: “As far as I know, no one in Lithuania has succeeded in implementing the operation of a building by using the BIM model, because more information must be uploaded into the model, and also you must have operation specialists able to use BIM. I hope the “ŽALI” project will be able to break the ice in this area.”