Who Put the DDDDDDs in BIM?

In the Beginning…

While researching some material on BIM construction recently, I began to wonder who or what are responsible for the development of 3D, 4D and 5D BIM…BIM-icon

Adding Time

Obviously, everyone on the planet understands “3D.” So, when was Time, the 4th dimension of BIM introduced? British industrialist and nobleman, Sir John Egan (interestingly, the CEO of Jaguar cars from 1984-90), was the catalyst for the notion that industrial processes and techniques could cross over into the construction industry, in his report Rethinking Construction, published in 1998.

To be wiki-specific, “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.”

Sir Egan’s vision of adding time to 3D modeling propelled the construction industry into options where they had not traversed previously – exploring options, managing solutions, and optimizing results. 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. Talk about a fast train to Profitville!

The Fifth Dimension

OK, so when did 5D BIM come into play? Again, from my little wiki-friend, “The use of the term 5D is intended to refer to the addition of fourth dimension: time and fifth dimension: cost to the 3D model, i.e. 5D is 3D + schedule (time) + cost.” Or more simply, 4D plus cost.

This is where it gets really interesting. The Fifth Dimension (flashback to the song Wedding Bell Blues) is more of a concept than a product, say like 3D BIM; or a process, like 4D BIM. Five D BIM is described on the internet alternately as a development tool, a workflow, and an applied methodology. Huh?

I found a reference to 5D BIM as far back as 2007, when the AIA talked around it, describing IPD (integrated product delivery). Then in 2009, ASHRAE released “An Introduction to Building Information Modeling (BIM) and included a definition which oddly enough flips the 4D and 5D attributing cost to 4D and time to 5D as observed in a post by Patrick Villella.

My conclusion is that 5D BIM cannot be attributed to a source or owner. I have even heard it referred to as “vaporware” around the water cooler. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across 6D BIM! This element actually makes sense to me in that it is a “close out” model with all the relevant building information included. Kind of a virtual three-ring binder delivered to the owner, with “product data and details, maintenance/operation manuals, cut sheet specifications, photos, warranty data, web links to product online sources, manufacturer information and contacts, etc.” (Source: wiki.com).

I have big plans to author 7D BIM and create a wiki page with a nebulous description. The seventh dimension will only be viewable through Google glasses however, and available only to Warren Buffet and Stephen Hawking. Or maybe on the 7th D, I will just rest…

In case you feel the need to add D’s – by integrating Sage Estimating, Autodesk Revit and Innovaya software you can fundamentally create 5D BIM modeling. Find out more from Tony Merry at Ledgerwood Associates!