We’ve already touched on BIM’s relationship with risks over the course of a project. At its core, the process is a pragmatic, cost-effective approach that can help mitigate the increasing problems surrounding older risk management methods. With the ability to identify clashes, issues and errors at early stages of a project, human errors and oversights are noticeably reduced. The increase in certainty afforded by these reduced risks ensures key project milestones are met and delivered on time.

As part of this article, we’ll delve deeper into BIM and its effects on risk analysis and management, touching on its benefits at all stages of a project from start to finish

Risk at the design phase

Because BIM uses computer animation and 3D model fly-throughs to enhance the visualisation of a project, clients are able to better understand the build, both from a performance perspective and the user’s own experience. As a result, better-informed decision-making is possible even at this early stage, along with a marked amount of collaboration between the client, design team and other stakeholders.

The user-friendly, easily-understandable approach allows clients to hit occupancy and sales targets, while quantity surveyors can take area information from the model and more readily calculate a design cost in a quicker manner. The visualisation techniques of BIM employ conflict detection, allowing design errors to be spotted and amended before it’s too late.

At the pre-construction phase, BIM can keep cost savings down and reduce waste, which reduces the possibility of cost risks and missed deadlines in the process. This is due to parametric modelling, which involves the use of a relational database containing information regarding the elements of a structure and their relationships. As a result, it’s possible to carry out a high level of model analysis, encompassing everything from the generation of space calculations, energy efficiency, structural analysis details and traditional design document. The risk of incorrect measurements or inaccurate costs will therefore be markedly reduced.

Risk at the construction phase

As the project moves towards the construction phase, BIM’s cloud connectivity capabilities mean information accrued over the course of the project can be accessed whenever it needs to be at a later stage. And because everyone has access to this information, whether it’s in the form of an audit trail, progress report or interim certificate analysis, all members of the project stay up-to-date in a timely and relevant manner.

BIM can also provide visual risk analysis for safety evaluations. These detailed reports demonstrate site conditions, which is an excellent way for new construction workers to familiarise themselves with the worksite. The fine-tuned details that relate to specific tasks mean that construction managers can avoid hazards from the outset of the construction process.

Risk at the operational phase

Even after a project has finished, the cost of operating still presents significant risk. At both the design and construction phase, information has to be collected to allow for comparisons between actual performance and predicted performance. By linking the BIM model to a computed facility management system, data can be recorded so those managing the facility to identify areas of efficiency and inefficiency.

Because the opportunity for errors can potentially decline, BIM can help to increase the construction efficiency. Additionally, the BIM originally used acts as a handy foundation later down the line; once it’s in place, a new contractor is able to step in and improve on a building in a smoother, more streamlined manner.

What challenges face BIM-based risk management?

  • Despite the undeniable benefits of BIM risk management, there are still certain limitations that challenge the approach. A lot of the emerging technologies are at a conceptual or prototyping stage, and have largely not been used in the real work environment. There is something of a gulf between proposing certain ideas and actually implementing them in projects.

  • A lot of the effort towards developing new digital technologies to manage particular risks assumes exact scenarios. Therefore, there’s a need for the appropriate research on how these new technologies can be implemented in a worthwhile manner with high-level value.

  • As a result, traditional risk management methods and processes still play a large role in real projects, and stand in the way of the adoption of BIM and BIM-related tools for risk management.

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