BIM and PLM: a strong complementarity

When we launched our offer combining BIM and PLM that was dedicated to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector, we wrote an article to underline the complementarity between BIM and PLM. This article and more precisely the complementarity is still valid. In fact, the recurrent questions and exchanges that we have with many actors of the AEC are the best confirmation of it! More and more companies of this sector realise that BIM alone is not enough to ensure an efficient collaboration and management of the project.

Essential roles played by PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and BIM (Building Information Model) in construction projects and real estate exploitation are well known. However, these two concepts are often studied independently.

BIM and PLM: How are they linked with one another?

BIM (Building Information Model) enables thanks to IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) to represent a set of structured information about an existing or planned building. Thus, BIM offers a collaboration platform between the different construction’s stakeholders. The latter allows for interoperability between the different business software through IFC.

Consequently, BIM is one of the key building blocks for the different stakeholders’ collaboration. Nonetheless, to ensure a good management of the project/building life cycle, there is a need for a complementary solution. Indeed, BIM covers the building life cycle but does not unlike the PLM deal with its management.

  • BIM focuses on visualisation features, properties calculation, checking the interactions between the different elements. It does not deal with document management or the control of reports and versions of documents.
  • PLM formalizes the processes of validation, exchange, modification, etc. whereas the BIM is more like a redundant copy that we try to maintain.

Is there an interest in incorporating BIM and PLM? If there is, how?

First, as we said earlier, it is important to properly differentiate BIM and PLM. We must keep in mind that they are two distinct but complementary principles. This particular complementarity allows for a complete management of the infrastructure over the whole project cycle

At think project! France (formerly Lascom AEC) we conducted research projects to implement a “PLM-BIM” meta-model via our software application. This “PLM-BIM” application makes it possible to use as input the IFC file to generate all the tree views and technical objects in the PLM sense. Depending on the modifications or evolutions of documents and data within the PLM software, the global IFC file can be automatically updated. Moreover, in addition to the benefits of BIM and PLM, the “PLM-BIM” application brings additional benefits due to the complementarity of these concepts!