DevOxyz - BLOG

Integrated Building Lifecycle Management: a mixed approach

Nicolas Augustin

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Two amazing technologies have been growing apart lately: interactive 3D and Building Information Modeling. Integrated Building Lifecycle Management (IBLM) is the process merging these two technologies, allowing a better management of the building, from its conception to his destruction.
This process adds continuity and reusability throughout the building life, using both the interactive 3D video game technologies and the BIM technologies. The global aim of this process is to remove a maximum number of hurdles and delays during the construction.
Let's now describe this process.

IBLM is a three steps process:

- Conception visualization
Many people in the AEC industry report that the project owner is very often surprised by the actual aspect of the construction the first time he visits the construction site. The owner and the stakeholders can have a very hard time understanding the blueprints. Evaluating the volumes is even harder. The stakeholders' validation during the conception phase is essential for the all construction project to be executed without any change of mind.
Both the construction project owner and the construction teams can suffer delays induced by an indecisive owner. Jon Brouchoud a famous virtual reality entrepreneur often speaks about this point:
"When people are investing millions of dollars in a new building, and they are ultimately gonna work and live and play in those buildings for many years to come they should know what they are investing in, they should never be surprised by what the building is like after they've started a construction now that we have this technology. It's a whole lot easier and a lot less expensive to change a pixel that it is to move a brick wall after it's been built".
To help speeding up the decision process, the IBLM team can produce an interactive 3D simulation of the building. At this step, a special recipe can help producing fluid and impacting interactive 3D simulation: the use of video game technologies. This trick is now possible thanks to the growing 3D data interoperability and the incredible performances of the video game engines. Integrating AEC models in a video game engine still requires specific skills from the IBLM team but will speed up the conception and the decision making steps.
Using video games technology comes with 2 advantages: portability and interactivity. The architectural project can be viewed on desktop computers as well as on tablets.
Interactivity is the ability for the user to act on the 3D environment to fully experience the architectural project. The user can of course move around in the 3D environment but also click a door to open it, change walls or furniture colors, move objects, add virtual characters to the 3D scene and many more features a programmer can implement.
The interactive application can also show options proposed by the conception team so that the owner is fully aware of the possibilities. Having seen the actual project in 3D, its choices will be firm and clear.
The owner can fully experience the building before it is built.
Now that what we are sure that the owner has made his firm and enlightened decision, the construction phase can start.

- Building Information Modeling process (BIM)
You may be already familiar with the BIM process methodology and aim but let's remind it briefly. The BIM process consists in aggregating all the structural, surface, volumetric, networks related data in a single digital representation of the building. In the IBLM process paradigm, we already have the 3D model of the building, the one we used at the conception step. The 3D models of the building systems are then added to the building 3D model.
The BIM master retrieves data provided by all the construction contractor teams.
This aggregation allows detecting clashes and errors very early in the construction process, allowing very efficient and cost effective presence of the contractors on the site.
Technical data can be added to every objects of the BIM model. The BIM model is then made "computable", meaning that the BIM master can interrogate the data and make computations to reveal mistakes but also to get a clear view of the cost structure of the building. Once the building has been achieved the BIM model contains all the data needed by the project owner for the maintenance of the building. The project owner can still choose to interrogate the BIM master for specific requests during the exploitation of the building, based on reliable and updated data.

- Maintenance and evolutions
Now that we're in the exploitation phase of the project, the owner teams can access precious information inside the BIM model. In addition to the traditional services BIM can provide, the IBLM approach we're using is very precious for one usage: renovation. If the building owner wants to modify a part of the building, the BIM data already contains both the 3D representation of the building and the structured data that has been gathered at the step 2 of our process.
The renovation or new project can be simulated, not only visually but also digitally using all the data the BIM project now contains. This results in a very effective planning taking into account the building reality.

The IBLM approach we propose here is a new approach that is already possible. It relies not only on the gathering of 2 types of technologies (CAD and video games technologies) but also on the gathering of two highly technical domains: AEC and the video game industry with his highly efficient algorithm and methods.