BIM: Where next ? #2

This is related to my post BIM: Where next ? #1 covering the (possible..!) future direction of BIM technology. This post describes industry sector changes and specific BIM applications.


The original uploader was Ali at English Wikipedia(Original text: Not attributed) (Library of Congress [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Industry changes


There is a lot of industry talk about ‘BIM for Infrastructure’ & I see a number of road/rail/infrastructure project with BIM contract deliverables.

Infraworks as a conceptual design tool is certainly a step forward, and Civil 3D has improved over the last couple of years. However, infrastructure design is often fundamentally different to most other design as it is string-based, as opposed to element-based BIM used for architectural, structural and services design. I cover this in more detail in BIM & Infrastructure

Civil 3D is a hybrid of string-like objects such as alignments & corridors (style or template based) combined with parametric subassemblies, and surface/solid modelling. I do not think the worlds of string-based design and element-based design will ever completely merge, but there does need to be a decent method of exchanging data between applications such as Revit & Civil3D.

As it stands, data transfer involves dumbing everything down to the lowest common denominator of DWG files, converting C3D objects to useless solids or limited transfer via the LandXML format. I’m not the biggest fan of IFC format, but at least the 2016 version of C3D can export to IFC format although in my limited experience, it only half works. It seems future version of IFC schema will include Civil object, but at this stage IFC is primarily buidings-based.


BIM in construction is currently focused on design-related activities such as services coordination, and use such as ‘4D’ and quantity takeoff is not widespread. In the future, the use of BIM in construction will extend to:

  • Construction safety planning, such as the use of models for Method Statements and Task Risk Analyses
  • ‘Safety in Design’
  • Construction modelling
  • BIM in contractual disputes
  • BIM to replace drawings i.e a tender by model
  • Construction data mining/analytics
  • Monitoring

BIM in contractual disputes

If you have ever been unfortunate enough to be involved in a major contractual dispute, the presentation of various events and scenarios is a messy amalgam of gantt charts, drawings, contracts and correspondence. Although BIM can’t address much of this, I think it does has a place in communicating a chain of events, design changes, construction constraints and ‘what if’ scenarios.

On the flip side, BIM is a contract requirement of many projects, but is is generally not taken that seriously i.e in meeting BIM specifications exactly. In the future, I think as clients become more educated about BIM and the potential benefit, the BIM contract deliverables from both designers and contractors will become more strictly enforced.

Authorities & approvals

Some jurisdictions now require models to be submitted as part of the approval process. In Australia, we are a long way behind this and most authorities and certifiers cannot cope without a piece of paper to put a red stamp on.

In the future, as well as model-based tenders, I think model-based approvals and certifications will also become standard practice.

Facilities Mangement & Asset Management

Although the use of BIM data for FM & AM purposes is a frequently quoted benefit of BIM, the current technology and low level of industry understanding means that this is a long way from reality.

I will cover this in a future post ‘BIM: The missing link’ which relates to FM & AM use of BIM.



The graphics in Navisworks looked pretty good when I first started using it around a decade ago. However, compared to the quality & performance of gaming graphics and other applications, Navisworks now looks decidedly dated. An improvement in this area would have real benefits in usability.

Recent development in Navsiworks includes (in my experience) rarely used features such as ‘Quantification’, but some of the ‘must have’ features such as an Excel export are missing. Plugins such as the excellent iConstruct can help fill the gaps, but come at a fairly significant price.


As far as collaboration between large numbers of users, Revit has developed to include the work-sharing, Revit Server and now Revit Collaboration methods. However, these have limitations in terms of scalability and performance, and also don’t address the fact that there is more than just RVT files in most projects.

This completely baffles me- AutoCAD can now import a Navisworks model as an underlay, but the flagship modelling application of Revit can’t. For any project team sharing models across disciplines, the current options of RVT files (intellectual property issues) and IFC (erratic) or DWG (dumb information and performance issues) just don’t cut it.
There needs to be a method for model exchange in a method that is compact & uneditable with protection of intellectual property embedded in models.


Since this post is Autodesk-centric and already getting quite long, I will cover BIM applications from other vendors such as Bentley & Trimble in a future post.