Should BIM Schedules be Independent of Overall Project Schedules?

An overall project schedule (OPS) is one of the most important planning tools available to any construction team.  The most successful projects include BIM workflows in their OPS.  Here are three best practices I have observed on projects that leverage BIM for the most value.

An overall project schedule (OPS) is one of the most important planning tools available to any team.  The most successful projects include BIM tasks in their OPS.  Here are three best practices I have observed on projects that leverage BIM for the optimal value. 

       1. The BIM Sequence Follows the OPS Sequence

Projects with successful coordination efforts start BIM coordination where the work will start and follow in the same sequence as construction will progress.  This provides the most time to integrate technology into the build process increasing the safety, quality, and productivity of the project.  If the coordination effort follows the construction plan the team will be able to find productive ways to use robotic total station layout, laser scanning of existing conditions, and drone scanning/ imaging.  If construction is happening too fast to incorporate BIM, the entire team needs to understand why and use other methods to coordinate the work. 

      2. Changes in the BIM Schedule Impact the OPS

Changes to a BIM schedule are common.  BIM efforts in my market often begin before design is complete.  BIM rework due to design development or program changes can delay a construction coordination effort that is reflected on the OPS.  On the best projects, events like this do not delay the BIM schedule, they modify it.  This occurs when delays to the BIM schedule directly impact the OPS and create a discussion between the BIM team and the build team about whether the related build event should be delayed or the BIM schedule should be compressed. 

      3. The BIM Team Participates in the Development of the OPS

The BIM schedule and the OPS can only follow the same sequence and be linked together when the BIM team participates in developing the OPS.  BIM professionals can evaluate the status of the virtual project even adding scheduling logic to the model to help the team visualize the build sequence.  The build team can benefit by visualizing risks and opportunities associated with the virtual construction of the project while the BIM team benefits by understanding the build logic to ensure milestones are delivered on time.


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About Dan Cotton


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Dan Cotton is the manager of Virtual Construction at McKenney's and is responsible for our BIM and CAD modeling teams. He has been a member of the LEAN Construction Institute (LCI) since 2011 and is currently a core team member of the LCI’s Georgia Community of Practice. Dan holds a Six Sigma Green Belt certification from Georgia Tech and led the LEAN efforts at McKenney's from 2010 through 2013. Prior to his involvement in Virtual Construction and LEAN, Dan was a project manager in the McKenney's New Construction division for six years.

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