BIM: The Game Changer | Building Information Modeling


Building Information Modeling isn’t just the latest trend, it is the biggest leap in technology for our industry.

by our guest writer, Kelley Skinner, Assistant Project Manager/BIM Manager

BIM is not a software or a process.  The best way to describe BIM is to classify it as a database management system, but really, BIM is a new way of thinking about building design and construction.  The leap into BIM is bigger than the leap our industry made from blueprints to CAD based design.

To see BIM’s advantages, we look at the precondition of a plan’s life cycle. Imagine a building as if it were a human body – the architecture is the skin, the structure is the bones, the mechanical is the respiratory system, the electrical the nervous system, and the plumbing the digestive system. Everything needs to be in conjunction with each other.  Knowing this, a building needs to have one central set of drawings that coordinate all of these systems.

Construction documents are the instruction manual for how to build a building.  They are composed of different drawing sets: Architectural, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing.  Each set has a different author.  Each author is employed at a different company. The Project Manager is responsible for making sure these sets function together.  For example, the light from an electrical drawing may interfere with a beam from the structural drawing.  The project manager is responsible for finding this collision, contacting the electrical and structural engineers, and correcting the clash.  This is the BIM role of The Miller Group.

Before BIM, this drawing set would start in the office of an architect.  Then travel to the hands of the structural engineer.  Then back to the architect.  Then to the mechanical engineer.  Then to the electrical engineer.  Then to the structural engineer. Etc. Etc. Etc.  You can already see the inefficiency here.  This is collaboration, but not real time collaboration.  Sometimes the design changes without another entity knowing.  These changes will affect the functionality of their own document.  This process is good, but it’s not great.  Here’s where BIM steps in…

BIM is a collaborative, real time drawing.  Each separate design entity (engineering and architecture) is visible in one drawing.  This drawing is not your typical two dimensional 36” x 24” print…it’s a 3D intelligent model.  For example, we can click on a light in the model and understand how many lumens it produces, how much it costs, and who the manufacturer is.

BIM makes building construction more efficient.  This efficiency is where fast tracking is born…it allows all design entities to make changes in real time.  Plans are no longer stock piled on someone’s desk or email… a structural engineer can see the change an architect makes and immediately respond.  As mentioned earlier, another great advantage of BIM is clash detection.  This tools tests separate systems, such as structural and electrical, against each other to see where they “clash”.  These early detections can save thousands of dollars by preventing on the field changes.  Because the model is intelligent, contractors can produce quantity take offs, providing the most accurate cost analysis for a client.

One of the exciting new advantages of BIM is the visualization capabilities.  These super realistic renderings give clients the opportunity to make the most informed decision about their product.  Changes can be made on the spot, allowing the client to customize their building in real time.  BIM allows us to model the building at a certain time of day and in the exact location of the project; for example, I can see what my building will look like on Saturday, December 6th at 3:30 PM with it’s latitude/longitude coordinates. These extending parameters ultimately provide the client and contractor with more accuracy.

The Miller Group is unique because we are turn-key operation.  BIM can match this philosophy with its intelligence.  Our asset management department can click on that same light mentioned earlier and pull up the owner’s manual.  There’s no doubt that The Miller Group got the BIM bug…and we can’t wait to share it with you on your next project.

For more information about BIM and other technology in our industry, feel free to contact the writer, Kelley Skinner at