4D BIM is intelligent linking of a 3D digital model with time or schedule related information

By connecting scheduling and modeling, 4D BIM allows a company to present a holistic, accessible view of a project to everyone involved.

Everything You Need to Know about 4D Scheduling BIM

4D BIM, with its seamless integration of data that accountants love in a format they can understand, helps greatly with visual validation for payment approval. People who don’t have the technical know-how to interpret CAD designs or intuitively know how long components will take to build can easily see how the project will fit together when data is combined in BIM.

  • About 4D

    While this model of a physical space, specifically referred to as 3D BIM, is helpful on its own, different layers of functionality can be added to the BIM information to create an even more powerful model of the area. One such additional “dimension” of BIM is scheduling data. By linking a time component to each element in a CAD sketch, designers and developers can create a living timeline of the space and show how the design can come to life in phases. Once this time component has been added, the 3D BIM process becomes the 4D BIM process.

  • Components of 4D

    Once these CAD drawings have been mocked up, the second piece of 4D BIM comes into play–time data. There are several different types of time data that can become important here. The first type is time data that is pertinent to the project, like deadlines, phases, and materials sourcing due dates. These are usually arranged on timelines, and CAD drawings can be split apart to show the end result of each phase. This time data is generally more of a bird’s eye view of the project and not representative of the details.

    The other important type of time data in 4D BIM is data about the construction components themselves. This is where large due dates get broken down into smaller milestones and deadlines. For example, a wall constructed using drywall might have time data about how long it takes to source the materials, construct the wall, and let it dry. By plugging this time metadata into the equation, 4D BIM can create realistic schedules of how individual components fit into a construction sequence timeline.

  • Project Phasing Simulations

    In the vast majority of cases, BIM is used on larger projects where multiple phases or staggered starts are necessary. 4D BIM helps enormously with developing these phases by providing a way to create project phasing simulations. Using the time data programmed into the components of a space, you can show the evolution of the concept over time as each phase is completed. Without the time data that 4D BIM requires, it would be nearly impossible to visualize each piece separately.

  • Lean Scheduling

    In the world of building, the term “lean construction” refers to a holistic approach to building that works to continuously improve all aspects of the space by combining theoretical research and physical development, all while using the least amount of resources possible. Lean scheduling is an offshoot of this philosophy where time and phasing are viewed holistically in order to optimize the project’s timeline. Considering the detailed yet holistic view that 4D BIM provides of a space, it is easy to see how it can be a great asset in pursuing this building strategy.

  • Visual Validation

    One of the toughest parts about the construction industry is that it is so interdisciplinary. Financial planners, engineers, builders, and designers alike all have to collaborate and work towards a shared goal. Although it might be easy for a construction planner to visualize a project in its beginning stages, that might not always be true for people on the financial side. They do, however, need to have a good sense of where the project is heading before they commit their resources.


Projecting Constructability & Price

Who will be need to be involved in the process? What are the individual timelines needed, based on scope of work? Do the countless variables involved make the project difficult or even impossible to execute?


BIM offers a more cost and time-sensitive solution: A BIM Model has the ability to be embedded with data, much like a database or spreadsheet. This data can be generated as you design, like the dimensions of your walls, or inputted by a user, like the price of a specific material. Now that these objects have this associated data, previously daunting tasks (like recalculating your project costs or how many beams you’re using) are now done automatically as updates to the design are being made. For example, as walls are drawn within the model you are able to extract all the associated information, like area, length and even cost.

Reliable Workflow

Planning a construction project from beginning to end, because of the complexity mentioned previously, can be a daunting process. A workflow has to include a large number of overlapping timelines, particularly when it comes to hitting a set deadline with all types of professionals on board completing individual parts of the project. One of the goals in complex construction management is typically to avoid clashes, areas in which models overlap or one variable makes the others impossible. Through the singular model emphasized by BIM, finding these clashes is made exponentially easier.


It’s important to consider the benefits of BIM for a variety of processes, from visualization to rights to light compliance. But at the same time, focusing only on those benefits can understate just how crucial a successful and accurate model will be for the entirety of the construction process.


Expanded Scope

Traditionally, building a model of a construction project has focused first and foremost on the visualization of the building or infrastructure to be built.

In other words, moving from more traditional architectural drawings to BIM means expanding the scope of the model from which your team will work. That expanded scope, in return, will lead to significantly increased reliability of the model, as well as a greater reliance on it for planning purposes.

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