Getting to Know Structural BIM

22 Jul 2020 | by Admin

BIM is an acronym for ‘Building Information Modelling’, and the use of this technology in structural engineering gets referred to as Structural BIM. To begin with, the structural model of a building provides detailed information on the structural components. This means the skeletal framework of the building including columns, beams, and bolts – providing guidance to teams in various disciplines who are part of planning and execution. A structural model becomes important to determine integrity in terms of safety and performance. Buildings, as we all know, are required to - sustain massive loads, endure the elements, and encounter unpredictable natural disasters.

Although the structural model only contains basic structural elements, it is based on which other complex systems get incorporated during the building’s planning phase. Structural BIM is a tool that facilities a high degree of detail into the plan even before the construction actually begins. It is advantageous for detailing, creation of a structural model with components, and ability to produce 2D drawings from the model. Even rough ideas on paper can be converted into realistic 3D models that can be used for the actual construction.


Advantages of Structural BIM

  • Instead of 2D drawings, it uses all three spatial dimensions, namely – depth, width, and height. Also, it can incorporate parameters of time and cost.

  • Digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building or facility.

  • Permits the collection of all information required before the actual construction of a building.

  • Permits coordination between various teams involved in the construction and resolves emerging conflicts between activities before they can bring the project to a halt.

  • Reduces both schedule and construction cost by providing visualization of the project to enable changes early in the design phase, translating to shorter completion times and reduced material cost.

  • Useful for facility managers for daily maintenance and operations.

  • Maintenance teams in the building can add data to the model, specific to their discipline to be retained securely for future use or in case of an ownership change.


  • Salient features of Structural BIM

  • Improved coordination and clash detection

  • High-quality construction documentation

  • Material specifications and accurate quantity estimates

  • Precise Scheduling using 4D BIM

  • Budgeting and cost loaded schedule using 5D BIM


  • Types of Structural BIM services

    Now that we understand the advantages and salient features of structural BIM, let’s recognize two main categories of it that are generally implemented

    RCC Structural Services: These are 3D models with structural components like beams and columns backed by structural reports and material specifications.

    Steel Structural Services: These consist of steel design, drafting, and fabrication designing that includes rebar drawing and detailing.


    Final Thoughts

    Even though structural BIM has many advantages as we have seen above. The adoption of structural BIM among construction companies is relatively less or we can say it is underutilized. While there are many reasons for it, the main reasons involve the costs associated with the installation of a BIM system. However, companies that are adopting BIM are improving with efficiency and effectiveness.

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