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4D BIM, an acronym for 4D Building Information Modeling and a term widely used in the CAD industry, refers to the intelligent linking of individual 3D CAD components or assemblies with time- or schedule-related information. The use of the term 4D is intended to refer to the fourth dimension: time, i.e. 4D is 3D + schedule (time).
The construction of the 4D models enables the various participants (from architects, designers, contractors to owners) of a construction project, to visualize the entire duration of a series of events and display the progress of construction activities through the lifetime of the project. This BIM-centric approach towards project management technique has a very high potential to improve the project management and delivery of construction project, of any size or complexity.
In 1998, Sir John Egan, in his report Rethinking Construction, argued that certain principles and management techniques could successfully cross-over from other industries like manufacturing to serve the project delivery demands of the construction industry. Sir John's vision for the industry became more of a reality when 4D BIM software became available in the late 1990s.
4D BIM provides construction project visualization, CPM scheduling, supply chain management, cost management, risk management, interoperability with 3D CAD and industry standard project management software all focused on virtual construction engineering simulation.
4D BIM enables construction product development, collaborative and transparent project implementation, partnering with the supply chain and production of components. It is in keeping with Sir John's vision with 4D BIM as part of the delivery process that "sustained improvement should then be delivered through use of techniques for eliminating waste and increasing value for the customer."
Rethinking Construction cited "Technology as a Tool":
- "The advice offered to construction by leading manufacturing industries is to approach change by first sorting out the culture, then defining and improving processes and finally applying technology as a tool to support these cultural and process improvements. Members of the Task Force have seen the effectiveness of this approach for themselves on European housing sites that are using innovative forms of building, together with a high degree of prefabrication, pre-assembly and standardisation. What surprised us was that, when asked for the source of efficiency savings on site, the constructors and developers tended not to attribute them to the technology of construction but to pre-planning with suppliers and component manufacturers to minimise the time actually spent on site. One area in which we know new technology to be a very useful tool is in the design of buildings and their components, and in the exchange of design information throughout the construction team. There are enormous benefits to be gained, in terms of eliminating waste and rework for example, from using modern CAD technology to prototype buildings and by rapidly exchanging information on design changes. Redesign should take place on computer, not on the construction site."
The role of 4D BIM is to add a new dimension to 3D CAD or solid modelling—that is, 4D BIM adds a fourth dimension of Time to the 3D Space of CAD solid modelling on computer.
The aim of 4D BIM is clearly to deliver technology which supports the construction delivery team and survives the dynamics and demands of the construction industry. If construction is a series of problems to be solved, then 4D BIM software is the tool of choice to meet that challenge—enabling users to explore options, manage solutions and optimize results. 4D BIM is an advanced construction management technique that is rapidly becoming the standard approach for project delivery teams around the global.
4D BIM is now used in the construction of large-scale, complex projects including tall buildings, bridges, highways, tunnels, university campuses and hospital complexes, luxury residential, residential and infrastructure such as courthouses, levee systems, hydro-electric power generation stations, mining and industrial process facilities. Yet it has the ability to be used in a sequence of events that can be shown on a time line that has been populated by a 3D model. 4D BIM is traditionally used for higher end projects due to the cost associated yet technologies are now emerging that allow the process to be used by a laymen or by a corresponding production line on many applications such as manufacturing. t
If 80% of all that we perceive is visual, then 4D BIM exploits the power of photo realistic visualization. 4D BIM significantly enhances the clarity over traditional Gantt charts that are often too complex to analyse in a reasonable length of time.
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