The BIM methodology has made a quantum leap in standardizing asset construction. Although the concept has existed since the 1970s, it did not become popular until 2002 when Autodesk, the company that created Autocad, acquired the software company Charles River Software, which a couple of years earlier had developed a program called Revit, which was key to the development of BIM worldwide.

What BIM means

BIM stands for Building Information Model. BIM is a process of digitizing the functional characteristics of physical objects.

These two definitions are given by the U.S. National Building Information Standard Model Project Committee:

  1. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility.
  2. BIM is a knowledge-sharing resource of information about a facility that forms a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle: from conception to demolition.

The 7 dimensions of BIM

The types of information typically included in BIM modeling are often referred to as BIM dimensions. The origin of the term lies in the ability to augment traditional 2-dimensional (CAD-like) designs into 3D BIM models and beyond, incorporating other types of information useful in the design, construction, and operation phases of BIM assets.

In general terms, the most commonly used meanings for BIM dimensions are as follows:

1D and 2D: Apart from the purely geometric meaning, some authors also associate these dimensions with the idea or concept of the project (1D) and with the sketch of the same, including the general characteristics and the preparation of the BIM model (2D).

3D: Corresponds to the three-dimensional modeling and parameterization of the data.

4D: Information related to time scheduling and activity planning.

5D: Estimation and control of costs.

6D: Information related to energy consumption and sustainability of the asset.

7D: Asset management. This is one of the most important BIM dimensions, since it has an impact on the exploitation of the asset, its productivity and the costs associated with maintenance.


BIM para la Eficiencia Operacional


It should be borne in mind that new dimensions can be incorporated to complement the model and make it more useful for the exploitation of assets. For example, at Retain we have defined the dimension of operation efficiency (eD), which incorporates knowledge of the business that is essential for Strategic Asset Management.

Use of BIM

The University of Pennsylvania describes 25 uses for BIM that include forecasting costs, making spatial estimates, or analyzing engineering data such as installations, lighting, maintenance, etc.

We can classify the uses of asset scanning into four groups:

Data collection

  1. Represent the state of the building.
  2. Quantify its elements.
  3. Collect information on its elements and identify their state.

Generation of data

  1. Determine the needs of the building elements.
  2. Determine their spatial-temporal coordinates, both in terms of location and volume.

Data analysis

  1. To guarantee the efficiency and harmony of the building elements.
  2. To predict their behaviour.
  3. Verify the accuracy of the information.

Communication of data

  1. Represent the elements of the building.
  2. Transform the information for use with other tools.
  3. Symbolically represent the elements of the building.
  4. Record the elements of the building.

Materialization of the data

  1. Manufacture the elements of the building.
  2. Relate or assemble its different elements.
  3. Use the information to physically manipulate its elements.

Present and future of BIM

Today, BIM allows us to do what we already did, but in a much faster and much cheaper way. However, its potential is much greater.

BIM is a technology that brings fresh air to an activity, construction, that has existed for thousands of years and that evolves somewhat slowly. In the same way that the development of drawing allowed a great advance in the architecture of the 15th century, BIM technology allows us, through the possibility of predicting the behavior of our constructions and transmitting information about them easily, to create much safer and more efficient installations.

BIM is showing only some of its potential capabilities and is therefore being implemented in all countries.

BIM evolution and implementation

The implementation of BIM is a constant worldwide. While the United States has not adopted national guidelines for BIM implementation (as other countries such as France and the United Kingdom have done), the American College of Architects does consider it. China’s Ministry of Science and Technology announced that BIM would be a key part of its twelfth five-year science and technology development plans. And many countries have formed an International Interoperability Alliance, BuildingSMART, which hopes to standardize and improve the use of BIM.

In Spain, BuildingSMART Spanish Chapter, of which Retain is a member, is an association belonging to BuildingSMART International, whose objectives are to develop and maintain open and neutral BIM standards (Open BIM) and to accelerate interoperability in the construction sector, among others.