19-05-2021 Natural stone

BIM, a revolution in natural stone use

Presented in a conference at Rocalia 2019 trade show, BIM has a host of benefits for all natural stone professionals.


Although not yet fully understood by all, this new method of collaboration between all the trades involved in construction projects is the shape of things to come. Presented in a conference at Rocalia by the CTMNC (French Technical Center of Natural Construction Materials), BIM has a host of benefits for all natural stone professionals. See the details below!

A house construction project
© Photo credit: FrankBoston / Adobe Stock

BIM is the future of workplace harmonization 

BIM - Building Information Modeling, Building Information Model or Building Information Management - is the new industrial revolution. This complex concept makes it possible to view the combined efforts of all the participants in a construction project in a digital model compiled from all the reliable and understandable data available. The BIM model is divided into “objects”, each with its own standardized characteristics (financial, technical, etc), enabling the interactions and potential conflicts between “objects” to be understood, to monitor the respect of standards and check that costs are as budgeted.

BIM is not software, even if it uses software to generate and analyze output. And BIM is not limited to the management of the construction phase: it can include all the phases in a construction project life cycle (buildings, civil engineering, public works…), through to maintenance, deconstruction and materials recycling.

With these benefits, BIM makes all the difference

The main benefit is enhanced communication and performance between everyone involved in the project. As the model can be read on all 3D software, data can be accessed by everyone and updated in real time, drastically reducing communication problems - which can lead to defects.

Cost and deadline controls are also highlighted. Material quantities can be calculated exactly. Errors can be eliminated in advance as they show up on the model. This new fluidity means works can proceed on schedule. Although savings may not be obvious immediately, BIM pays over time, economizing between 1.5 and 3% a year over the whole life of the building (1). 

BIM is such an evident benefit, it will probably become the benchmark work method in the next few years - which is why now is the time to adopt it in your natural stone construction projects!

How to integrate natural stone into a BIM project?

The CTMNC presented its first downloadable natural stone BIM object - a wall designed by a work group, the properties of which comply with NF standard B10-601 - at the BIM and natural stone conference at Rocalia 2019.

Listen to the podcast « The BIM and natural stone »

Updated in 2020, the CTMNC BIM object was enriched and is now available in four natural stone material options collectively characterized by the producers. The object exists as a single wall, a double wall and with either attached or bonded stone.

An example of the properties of a natural stone BIM object explained by the CTMNC

  • “masonry compression” property: average resistance to compression of natural stone masonry elements determined by tests complying with NF standard EN 772-1

  • “roadway compression” property: average resistance to compression of natural stone paving stones determined by tests complying with NF standard EN 1926

    These properties can have the same value, for example 45 MPa. If the 45 MPa value is transmitted without specifying the correct property (here either roadway compression system or masonry compression), the software will not know what to allot this value and so it will be unusable.

Source: CTMNC - Faisons le point sur le BIM

All natural stone producers can propose the download of their own BIM objects. There is a double advantage in doing that:

  • In a single input, every property of every item on sale is defined, eliminating the repetition of the same data when answering enquiries, the risk that information is lost on the way and saving time.
  • If the BIM object provides high quality information meeting the expectations of architects, it significantly increases the chances that the material will be selected at the design phase.

To find natural stone BIM objects, consult the online catalogs of BIM objects like BIM&Co, Polantis and BIMobject.

A BIM construction project incorporating natural stone in Puteaux La Défense, Paris, (France)

In 2018, BIM was used to run a construction project of 150 public-authority owned and operated tower apartments and 2 commercial units in the Bergères ecodistrict. It included a basement lined with stone and a natural stone frontage.

Due to all these benefits, BIM will become a “must” for architects, research departments and manufacturers - as well as natural stone suppliers. Visit Rocalia to discover how to make the most of it!

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(1) Bim in Motion: Combien le BIM vous fait-il gagner ?

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