Those involved in the AEC sector need to become more data-driven and adept at working in a digitized, model-based environment to meet two growing trends:
- A return to strong market growth worldwide
- A greater reliance on digital approaches such as BIM and data-driven processes for asset lifecycle management.
These trends point to the need for an integrated systems approach to maximize opportunities in the sector.
Many stakeholder organizations function with a gap between their BIM capabilities and their ERP solutions.
There has been scant attention given to how BIM and ERP systems can interact and this is what is investigated here: to establish whether BIM can work with ERP.
Until now many ERP solutions have only been implemented as financial and human resource management solutions for the construction sector. This is understandable as both require customization to be useful. However if BIM objectives to improve productivity are to be met there is clearly a need to integrate all stages of a project’s lifecycle process and move forward to implementing 4D, 5D and 6D BIM, through integration with ERP.
Many construction businesses use traditional management tools which are unaligned to the nature of construction work. The need now is to ensure an integrated system matches the needs of the industry and properly supports a project and asset lifecycle orientated environment as well as enterprise management.
BIM is predominantly a set of technological processes and tools for the integrated design and construction of a built asset that can facilitate real-time collaboration across all disciplines, aid design and construction planning and increase productivity for all involved in a project team.
- 3D BIM represents the graphical and non-graphical information relating to a 3D digital model of a built asset, including accurate quantity of materials
- 4D BIM represents the integration of a 3D digital model with schedule-related information.
- 5D BIM represents the integration of a 3D digital model with cost-related information.
- 6D BIM represents the integration of individual 3D components or assemblies with project life-cycle management information
ERP is the integrated business process of building or maintaining assets. It enables multiple business operations including inventory management, financial reporting, scheduling, estimating, procurement, project and construction management, cost control, sales and sub-contract management, variation control, bid management, material control, plant and equipment hire, asset and facilities management.
An ERP process provides a competitive advantage as it
- is flexible
- construction tailored
- automates key processes
- allows users to determine final costs, schedules and equipment inventories
The focus on Building Information Modeling (BIM) to date has focused on the asset handover process and the provision of standards-based structured data for asset owners or operators and less about implementing and integrating processes and systems relating to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
This exploration of how BIM can work with ERP was compiled by global BIM services provider IndiaCADworks.
How BIM can work with ERP
The ultimate goal of implementing a whole-life construction solution should be the ability to manage operations from a single interface. BIM systems can be integrated with ERP business applications to establish an integrated foundation for project/asset and enterprise management.
These integrated BIM/ERP systems can provide greater accuracy and efficiency by :
- Enriching digital models with financial and human resources related information
- Integrating design and construction
- Synchronizing real-time data, including updates
- Facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration across a project’s lifecycle team
- Using Open BIM standard IFC
- Bridging technical and operational aspects of built assets
- Increasing productivity through automation
It should be appreciated that 3D BIM data should be used as the master asset data source driving the design and construction of a project before the handover. In doing this it will become the usable asset operation and maintenance data resource for owners and their facilities management teams.
Integrating ERP with BIM may also spur innovation with the development of new tools and processes that offer new methods of data capture, sharing, analysis and reporting that ease business decision-making throughout project and asset lifecycle.
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