FWPA Building Innovations

BIM and 5D CAD

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is increasingly used on large building projects and on repetitive design projects such as manufactured housing. It involves an intelligent and integrated 3D master model of the building design with cost and production information linked to the model. You can therefore add or remove things from the design and subsequently the cost and process to build it will change automatically – hence the term 5D CAD. For timber designers and fabricators it allows the design to be optimised for production both off and on site. This includes checking the construction design for clashes with other elements. It can also be used to simulate the construction process onsite. This can all be done before actually beginning onsite thus providing a “try before you buy” approach to building. It also offers a different way of doing business across the supply chain because materials suppliers typically make “product libraries” available to designers (see Autodesk Seek http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8cMVLdTETc), who can susbequently drag and drop the chosen products into their BIM for given building designs. This makes the specification and transferance of such information fast and simple. The libraries can include detailed performance information making it possible to simulate structural loading and other attributes as well. Currently, progressive fabricators in steel, cabinet work and MEP services import the 3D architecural model into their own fabrication software, and then use this to automatically program Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines that cut and assemble the components, thus making offsite construction a reality.


The potential is huge. BIM represents the next generation of strategic advancement in the building industry. Governments in the UK and US now mandate use of BIM on many government projects. It offers the potential of significant productivity improvement and integration of supply chain participants.


There is still much development involved in translating the above concepts, which are currently used only on state-of-the-art building projects in Australia. Professional practice needs to embrace this technology and train staff accordingly. Software must become easier to use by all participants and less routed with high-level users. The visual advantages of the 3-D model need to be used to greater advantage - especially for communicating and providing key project information.


A good example of introducing BIM in the Australian supply chain is the work of BIM-MEP Aus (http://www.bimmepaus.com.au/home_page.html), as lead by the Australian Mechanical Contractors Association in association with others.




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About FWPA

Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited (FWPA), a not for profit company, is the Australian forestry and wood  products industry’s service provider, investing in research and development, and providing research results and generic promotions to the Australoian industry. FWPA aims to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian forest and wood products industry through innovation, investment in effective and relevant R&D and communication of the results to stakeholders. Read more about FWPA at www.fwpa.com.au

Contact FWPA

Forest and Wood Products Australia
Level 11, 10-16 Queen Street
Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia

Phone: +61 3 9927 3200
Fax: +61 3 9927 3288
Email: info@fwpa.com.au