While perhaps a bit slow to accept change, the construction industry is always looking for bigger and better ways of achieving goals and improving processes.
In order to grow, our industry needs to continue to look for more effective and efficient ways of construction, and as a result of this we’ve seen some fantastic pieces of software developed in recent years.
One of the most popular advances in technology seems to be the use of BIM, also known as Building Information Modelling. This innovative process has taken the industry by storm over the last few years, and many professionals swear by it as the future of construction.
With its rise in popularity clearly showing that people love using it, why aren’t we using it industry wide yet?
We’ve taken a look at what exactly BIM is, the important role it plays in the future of construction and the current barriers stopping it from being rolled out.
What is BIM?
To put it simply, Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the use of detailed 3D models to enable project management through the planning, design, build, operation and maintenance phases.
It is a very intelligent modelling process that allows users to more efficiently design and plan buildings, creating digital 3D models that detail characteristics of the build.
Primarily used to design building and infrastructure designs, it offers clear and collaborative project management for everyone involved on a project. Unlike 2D drawings, every single detail of a build is shown and accessible from all angles using 3D models.
It is particularly helpful for helping clients/investors to truly visualise what the building is going to look like, and can be used throughout the entire lifecycle of a project.
What are the benefits of BIM?
Using BIM software comes with many different benefits, with reduced risks, improved timelines and cost saving and better project outcomes overall.
It makes sharing and collaboration easier than ever before, with models being able to be shared much easier than drawings sets. The ability to do this means that everyone from architects to engineers to contractors can all work and go off the same model, keeping it up to date via modern cloud technology.
The use of BIM allows everyone involved in the project to get a clearer vision of their role in the process, working together to ensure a smooth delivery and better process overall.
From a design point of view, it is clearly superior than previous methods as it captures the most accurate representation of the site. It offers realistic 3D spaces to fully experience the design before any work has even commenced.
It also has the ability to offer an insight into the future maintenance of the building, and identifies any potential errors or risks with the build.
BIM can even be used for simulations, accurately calculating the time and cost of a project, assessing the functionality of the design and working out construction schedules to maximise the amount of sunlight.
You can even access the software and designs remotely, whether that’s in the office or on-site.
Using cloud-based technology, users can access the models using any chosen device (including mobile phones). By using the cloud, it takes the usual processing strain of running CAD and BIM software and performs it remotely, allowing for access wherever and whenever you need it.
Why is it so important for the future of construction design?
With the predicted population becoming 10 billion by 2050, we need to look for smarter and more efficient means to designing and building projects to meet the space requirements.
BIM will allow both the design and construction teams to work much more efficiently, streamlining processes and providing a more detailed product in general.
The use of digital modelling will make redraws and redesigns so much quicker and easier, saving both time and effort in the process. Anyone who works in the industry will know that time is money, so any chance of shorting timeframes is a guaranteed money saver.
We also think that BIM is also going to play a big part in winning future projects. Combining the idea of more detailed visuals with ways to save time and money will be music to a client’s ears, and could be that extra thing needed to win bids.
We’ve even started to see universities and colleges introduce the likes of BIM technology into their curriculum, preparing the workers of tomorrow for the eventual industry wide rollout.
As far as the future of construction design is concerned, we believe that BIM is vital for continued growth and improvement.
What are the barriers stopping the BIM rollout?
So, we’ve already established that BIM is a proven method will countless benefits, so why aren’t we already using it in every firm?
Well, anyone reading this will know that the construction industry can sometimes be a bit resistant to change (that’s putting it nicely). This resistance to change over the years has slowed down the introduction and rollout of various technologies and software, all of which has proven useful when eventually implemented.
The introduction of BIM isn’t going to be an easy task, as it requires a companywide strategy to change how the business operates.
Moving from 2D drawings to 3D models isn’t just a quick switch, and will take a lot of training and getting used to in order to be successful.
Continuing on from that point, one of the most prominent is the general lack of expertise and training in-house for many firms.
According to research, 90% of engineers considered BIM to be relevant to their work and beneficial, but less than 50% had a grasp on how to use it to their best advantage. With numbers like that, it’s clear that we need to develop efficient training before it can be implemented across the board.
We should see this lack of understanding start to dwindle with more and more up comers learning how to use this software to its maximum potential, but we can’t afford to wait that long.
Another issue that is preventing the BIM rollout is the general stubbornness of managers and directors, not willing to change or adapt to new processes.
Many directors see BIM as just a large expense, and are perfectly happy to continue using their current methods – but this mindset is actually holding them back. In order to grow, there needs to be a shift in attitude in management.
Change starts at the top, and when managers and directors get on-board, we can really start implementing this fantastic new software.
Clearly, BIM has a lot to offer as far as speeding up processes and generally making construction more efficient – but the industry needs to step up and embrace new methods.
Interestingly, we do CAD using AutoCAD software that is recognised by BIM. However, BIM is 3D dependent and utility plans are not yet provided in 3D, so the infrastructure underground from plans cannot be easily applied to BIM. Unless you use depth guidelines, which of course can be wrong…
But what do you think? Is BIM really the future of construction or is the industry too stubborn to embrace new methods?
If you’d like to get involved in the conversation, feel free to tweet us @utilitysearches.
Brought in to help take the business to the next level, Jim’s role is to improve lead generation and customer satisfaction from over 3,500 registered clients. Jim loves interacting with potential and existing clients and has a wealth of marketing and sales experience through his previous roles at O2, the RAC and TalkTalk. Jim holds a BA (Hons) Business Studies degree majoring in Marketing. He has also become a regular visitor to the UEFA Champions League final of late 😉