In the beginning, there was AutoCAD. Though the functionality in AutoCAD has grown over the years and continues to be a popular and important part of the Autodesk portfolio of products, its original appeal was based on its: ability to run on a PC instead of a workstation, accuracy, and ability to plot to scale. During AutoCAD's evolution, another product came along — Revit. Revit differentiated itself from AutoCAD in that Revit was based on Building Information Modeling (BIM).
BIM is about forming relationships instead of only drawing geometry to document a building. Instead of drawing, designers express relationships like this beam is connected to this wall and that wall. If one or both of the walls move, the beam resizes in response. But that's still just about geometry. What's really important is that the building information model also contains scheduling and costing information. For example, if a project has 27 beams and each costs $1,000 and takes a day to install, the project costs $27,000 and needs 27 days of work. If the design changes so that 28 beams are needed, the update also means $28,000 and 28 days of work. Gone are the days where the Excel spreadsheets are out of sync with the updated AutoCAD drawings. All of the information for the building is in a single database.
BIM can be adopted to various degrees. With this in mind, the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry has come up with a set of BIM maturity levels [designingbuildings.co.uk] that characterize the degree of implementation of BIM.
This level is characterized by unmanaged computer-aided design (CAD) including 2D drawings and text with a paper-based or electronic exchange of information but without common standards and processes.
This level features managed CAD with the increasing introduction of spatial coordination, standardized structures, and formats. This may include 2D information and 3D information such as visualizations or concept development models.
This level is defined by a managed 3D environment with data attached but created in separate discipline-based models. These separate models are assembled to form a federated model but do not lose their identity or integrity. Data may include construction sequencing (4D = time is the 4th dimension) and cost (5D = cost is the 5th dimension) information. For more specific information, see "What is BIM Level 2? ...Glad You Asked."
This level requires a single collaborative, online, project model with construction sequencing (4D), cost (5D), and project lifecycle information (6D = who does what is the 6th dimension).
The latest level encompasses BIM level 3 but adds the concepts of improved social outcomes and well-being. As one can guess, this resonates with the Autodesk Foundation.
As you can see, adopting BIM can happen as a progression through the levels. It's never too early to start. Autodesk has always been an automation company, and today more than ever that means helping people make more things, better things, with less; more and better in terms of increasing efficiency, performance, quality, and innovation; less in terms of time, resources, and negative impacts (e.g., social, environmental). Both AutoCAD and Revit continue to be developed to meet the changing needs of our customers. They are often used in conjunction on projects. Each has its place. BIM is one of the ways that our customers can do more and better with less — the higher the BIM level means more more, better better, and even less all at once.
Lexicology is alive in the lab.