Is 4D BIM the biggest and most important BIM dimension to support te growth of BIM within he AEC and digital transformation sector?

Is 4D BIM the key to scheduling success for AEC businesses in 2019?

Joe Coleman, Senior Account Manager at FMC Global Talent
Joe Coleman, Senior Account Manager at FMC Global Talent

It’s easy to get confused between the differences of BIM dimensions, especially when there’s so many and the ambiguous definitions! The process of BIM has evolved and continues to adapt to the ongoing developments to architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sectors, but which dimension will prove most useful in 2019?

To jog your memory, 3D BIM refers to modelling, 4D represents time management on a project, 5D tightens the purse strings and oversees costs, 6D monitors asset sustainability and 7D allows for facility management upon project completion. When you put it like that, it’s all so simple… right?

As we’re all aware, feeding a BIM model requires reliable datasets for a more successful build but sequencing the timing and coordinating a build is being recognized as the BIM dimension pulling the strings on today’s projects.

So, 4D BIM gets the plaudits for adding the most value to a building project, but is this justified and how accessible is it for the wider AEC community to adopt?

A perfect harmony

I struggle to plan my weekly shopping, let alone a building project… 4D BIM is primarily used to schedule, plan and allow stakeholders to coordinate their share of the project which reduces time, costs and keeps you one step ahead of the build. In doing so, it connects the back-office with the building site… when the stars align and all that!

It’s also a project manager’s best friend and encourages people away from a pen and paper. Gaining full control of a project is difficult, especially on large scale builds where there are simply too many elements to control. By adding data to the 4D model, or CPM, it promotes clarity and live status updates whilst allowing for comparisons between the original 3D plan.

Lastly, the threat of mistreating or losing data is reduced thanks to the cloud storage option a project information model offers. Data is stored in one place and not accidently shredded by the apprentice onsite!

Achilles heel(s)

BIM dimensions rely on skill, knowledge and experience of handling software on various types of building projects. Whilst BIM has become a common reality throughout construction, there is a gap between software and labour. This was expected as emerging technology markets often advance quickly. But sourcing the right talent, both onsite and in the office, remains competitive.

Globally, the construction market has notoriously been resistant to change. Although BIM is becoming increasingly present on building projects, the AEC industry remains on a journey towards adopting digital transformation, including digital twin technology which I discussed here, and changing culturally.

Storing data online and in one place certainly has its advantages. Unfortunately, the rise of cloud technology and other data storage software has been the catalyst for increasing cyber-attacks. The importance of establishing reliable cybersecurity has already been well documented to protect sensitive and potentially harmful datasets.

The verdict

Promoting the visualization of a building project, providing live project status updates and a calendar of events for all stakeholders are features which 4D BIM will continue to provide endless benefits for in the construction and wider AEC industry for a generation.

The digital transformation journey in which many companies are undergoing means adoption of BIM dimensions will continue to rise. Given time, the labour market will hopefully catch up to the rate of advancing technology and it will become less reticent to change than today.

Cybersecurity remains the primary barrier to growth for 4D BIM however and is the biggest threat for businesses and countries globally in 2019.

How is 4D BIM performing for you? Which BIM dimension do you feel will excel in 2019? Contact me at