4 Ways BIM Helps Contractors React Fast to Severe Weather

It’s not just for clash detection. 

Unexpected weather, especially severe weather, is a potential problem with construction schedules. Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) can help contractors get through these events with minimal impact on the project timeline and therefore the bottom line.

During construction of the Baptist Health MD Anderson Cancer Center in Florida in 2017, Hurricane Irma loomed. The electrical contractor on the project had used BIM to plan for fabricating electrical assemblies offsite and installing them onsite. The 3D models were linked to schedule information, an example of 4D BIM. That decision paid off in unexpected ways.

When Irma was forecasted, they were able to lean on BIM to quickly adjust task sequencing. They sped up the fabrication and installation of certain materials to get critical pieces of work installed prior to the storm, and delayed other tasks. The project earned them an AEC Excellence Award.

BIM’s utility when planning around weather events stems from the flexibility, transparency and easy access to information it provides.

RELATED: What is 5D BIM and How Is it Changing the Way We Approach Projects?

BIM facilitates modularization

BIM gives clear visibility into the interdependencies between various stages of the project and can help stakeholders quickly identify and eliminate inefficiencies, such as scheduling conflicts and out-of-sequence work. That same transparency helps managers group tasks into modular units. BIM then allows them to strategically move modules up or down the timeline in the event of bad weather to keep net delays to a minimum. It may also be possible to shift production of entire modules of work offsite to less-disrupted areas.

BIM enables easy rescheduling

Beyond hurricanes, BIM can help during more mundane weather events. Workers can’t get to the site due to a snow storm? Construction delayed due to high wind or extreme heat? Too wet to pour concrete? Project managers can incorporate specialized scheduling tools with BIM software so they can reschedule tasks or even reassign them quickly. All stakeholders can see the changes, and supervisors can sign off on tasks digitally to keep things moving.

BIM helps keep an eye on supply chain

Construction projects depend on smooth delivery of materials via many-tentacled supply chains. Even if a construction site is enjoying sunny weather, bad weather could affect the delivery of goods from afar. Or high humidity in a warehouse could affect the quality of goods stored there. BIM facilitates the management of material deliveries and also allows companies to more easily accommodate breaks in the supply chain by pushing tasks up or down the construction timeline.

BIM helps ensure worker safety

Severe weather puts worker at risk. BIM tools enable supervisors to adjust schedules accordingly, switching to indoor tasks when possible and rescheduling outdoor tasks when not. Since BIM plans are updated in real time, workers can access the most accurate project and schedule information while onsite or on the road.

Contractors can’t control the weather, but with BIM, and especially 4D BIM, they can minimize schedule disruptions and keep workers safe before, during and after a nasty weather event.

Poornima Apte is a mechanical engineer turned award-winning writer. Find her at wordcumulus.com.

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