An Important Measure of BIM – How Many Holes Did You Drill?

"That which is measured, improves," said Peter Drucker. In light of new regulations coming from OSHA, we want to propose a new measure of the depth and quality of building information modeling (BIM). The measure is simple:

How many holes did you drill on your project in cast-in-place concrete?

The regulation being enacted by OSHA is a new series of regulations aimed at preventing worker exposure to silica dust, a major cause of lung disease. Some key provisions of the new act:

  • The permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.
  • Employers must use use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL, provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure, limit worker access to high exposure areas, develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Employers must provide workers with information about their lung health.

This regulation is less than one year away. Everyone must be in compliance by June 23, 2017.

Want to know what's easier than setting up engineering controls for dust control, measuring exposure limits, and providing medical exams? Not drilling at all.

One of the major key benefits of BIM is the ability to more effectively plan work in the field. This includes the ability to put concrete inserts into cast-in-place concrete deck pours. If you look at most schedules for BIM, they are usually bound by the concrete deck pour schedule. If you manage your BIM processes correctly, you should always make concrete deck pour inserts for your mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) infrastructure, eliminating the need for drilling in the deck. In addition, if the quality of your BIM work is high, your inserts should be correctly placed, which also eliminates the remedial action of fixing incorrect inserts with drilling.

In effect, if you count how many holes you drill on a given project, you can measure the effectiveness of your BIM processes. If you still need a return-on-investment argument for your BIM work, calculate the cost of drilling each anchor under these new regulations and compare it to your BIM costs. Once again, that which is measured, improves. If you start measuring, it'll get better.

In construction, we have some metrics that are clear measures of safety, efficiency, and quality. How many RFIs did you have on a project? What is your insurance modifier? How many hours has it been since your last lost-time incident? Given new regulations, the number of holes drilled per project may be a great measure for BIM processes. 


Make sure to check out the work we’re doing in computational BIM and the automation of MEP modeling. BuildingSP is at the forefront of the application of generative design to AEC, and we look forward to better tools changing how we specify BIM on projects. You can contact us at and follow us on Twitter.

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