Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Girma T. Bitsuamlak, John K. Dickinson


The effective adoption and implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is still challenging for the construction industry. However, studies and reports show a significant increase in the rate of BIM implementation and adoption in mainstream construction activities over the last five years. In contrast, Pre-Engineered Building (PEB) construction, a specialized construction system which provides a very efficient approach for construction of primarily industrial buildings, has not seen the same uptake in BIM implementation and adoption. The thesis reviews the benefits and the main applications of BIM for the PEB industry as well as challenges of its practical implementation. To facilitate the implementation of BIM in the PEB industry, a BIM framework is adapted from Pre-fabrication (Pre-fab) industry and new workflows, process maps, and data-exchange strategies are developed. As the PEB industry traditionally makes significant use of automation in its design and fabrication process, accordingly this work investigates the technical challenges of incorporating automation into the proposed BIM process. Two new BIM concepts, “Planar Concept” and “Floating LOD”, are then developed and implemented as a solution to these challenges. To define the proper input/output criteria for automated BIM design processes, a numerical study was performed to identify an “Optimum LOD”.

A software implementation embodying the research outcomes was developed to illustrate the feasibility of the results. Its step-by-step deployment is analyzed and discussed using an example industry PEB design project. Further, the impact of this work is extended by integrating the developed BIM framework and automated design process with wind engineering design activities and tools and procurement systems. The study concludes that the deployment of the proposed BIM framework could significantly address existing issues in project design through to operation processes found in the PEB industry. Also, the results indicate the developed concepts have the potential for supporting the application of automation in the other sectors of the general construction industry. This thesis is written using the "Integrated Article" format and includes various complementary studies.