Chief construction adviser, Peter Hansford has described it as 'key to growth in the sector' and it is recognized as a much more collaborative and efficient way of working, yet there is a percentage of us who are still keeping our heads down when it comes to BIM and hoping it will go away…
Maybe it's the required element of investment or maybe it's the small matter of change itself - always a difficult one for the construction industry - but there is still an amount of SMEs who are shrinking away from BIM despite the fact that it is destined to become the established way.
We've now entered a period of innovation when it comes to design and technology. With the forward thinkers chomping at the bit to get behind BIM, it's worth identifying what working with BIM actually entails before deciding what side of the fence to sit on.
Our senior project consultant in the North, Gemma Lennon, is a member of the BIM4SMEs - http://www.bimtaskgroup.org/bim4smes/, a working group made up of individual organisations from different sector backgrounds within the industry. The group's main goal is to raise awareness of BIM in the SME marketplace and to makes sure these businesses understand the risks of doing nothing with regards to its implementation. The website is a good place to start to find out, as well, the advantages of doing something to get started.
There is no doubt, a certain amount of funding is involved. For instance, in order for a company to fully embrace it as best practice, BIM needs to be fully integrated with working practices, with adequate investments made in ICT, including broadband provision, data management, 3D printing and software functionality. The flip side is, it should win business, as more and more companies are demanding it, and it should save money as a more unified way of working means less misunderstandings and so less to put right. The training involved also means that you are investing in your staff, which is always a good thing.
The Government is driving it through on public sector projects and the private sector must follow at some point. Most large private sector companies will be doing it within the next twelve months - they've been left with little choice as blue chip clients are now demanding it of their supply chain - and there will be a trickle down effect when it comes to the SMEs.
BIM is there to be embraced by all communities within the construction sector and that alone makes it no bad thing. Improving information quality makes outcomes more predictable and it makes sense that tighter collaboration and information flow provides the basis for a new level of best practice. For BIM is so much more than just a detailed 3D model of a building.
The accuracy of the model, combined with animations and fly-throughs, allows clients to access the design lay-out before the build takes place and make alterations accordingly. To reiterate the point made previously, this means that when the build happens, there will be fewer errors and far less rework needed.
One of the key concepts behind it is that everything is connected so if you move a wall, the elements attached to the wall on the model will also move. Similarly, if you change the volume of a floor, the quantities of material needed will automatically alter. The sharing of this critical information through a single model that adapts as it changes means that all organisations share the changes so that they don't have to be made multiple times leaving more room for error.
In a couple of years, this will all be the norm anyway. The major point is that we should not be fearful of this change but embrace it as not to do so could ultimately cost and will hamper new business opportunities and further growth. At the moment, to adopt BIM gives any SME the advantage but soon it won't be up for debate - Best for all concerned to save time and money and take it on board now.