Surely everyone here now knows that BIM (Building Information Modelling) is a 3D model-based software that provides architecture, and construction professionals the knowledge and tools to design, construct, and maintain infrastructure more efficiently.
It’s probably just as well known that BIM serves as a common knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for a variety of choices during that lifecycle. BIM creates a common language between all the parties involved in a construction project and brings them together on an integrated platform. BIM becomes the framework to plan, collaborate, and evaluate the cost and time performance of projects. In essence, it draws a big picture of a project using visualization.
Central to BIM is its accurate geometrical representation of the parts of a structure in an integrated data environment. Other related benefits naturally follow:
- Enhanced project collaboration
- Better project quality and execution
- Improved productivity
- Faster project delivery
- Reduced construction costs
- New revenue and business opportunities
But with that array of benefits, there are some complexities the construction industry must address with regards to BIM.
- The cost of BIM: The biggest concern for any business organization is the cost of adopting BIM. The initial expense of the solution is not a major problem. BIM implementation is not complete just by upgrading of software. To draw out the full benefits, all the related components of business operations from applications to vendor component specifications would have to be integrated into a coherent system. Additionally, different levels of training would be required. And then there’s the cost of specialist BIM talent. And speaking of talent.
- Lack of BIM experts: Most construction companies do not have sufficient staff equipped to deploy BIM techniques and principles. Hiring these people seems like an obvious solution but that’s not so easy too. Especially for small and mid-sized construction companies in locations away from the major technology centres, it’s hard to find people skilled in technology and amenable to make their career in such organizations.
- Data exchange: Data exchange between teams has traditionally been something the construction industry has never been great at. This problem could be exacerbated by BIM. BIM models have complex 3D geometry, behaviour, and a lot of data attached to each object. Also, BIM models deliver tremendous volumes of data to the onsite construction teams on a regular basis. This suggests a consistent and high volume bidirectional flow of information is necessary. Creating and maintaining that level of data exchange could become a problem for traditional construction companies.
- Level of project complexity: Construction projects range in complexity from the trivial to the truly massive. The issues are very different as the projects become larger. BIM users having insufficient experience in addressing complex projects may actually cause critical coordination problems while trying to implement BIM for such projects.
- Cultural issues: Changing a long-established method of working can cause some problems. Processes would have to change, entrenched habits would have to be transformed, and new layers of reporting, monitoring, and feedback would have to be deployed. BIM has its own characteristics that need addressing. Combined with the staff skills issue this could cause friction between teams and management layers. This could impact BIM adoption on site as well as reduce the impact of the implementation.
There are a variety of changes that could be undertaken by a construction organization to successfully adopt BIM.
- Seek a BIM service partner: A painless way to kick off your BIM journey is to partner with a BIM service provider organization who can understand your requirements, be it architecture, structure, design coordination, or development plans. A BIM service provider will bring the required expertise and experience to the table that can all but eliminate the hurdles that may arise in the project.
- Make it realizable to everyone: With the adoption of BIM, there can be paradigm shifts that can be experienced at every stage of structural development. Drive home to everyone involved the benefits of the platform and the new collaborative approach. Focus the training on the specific context of the benefits of the solution to their day-to-day work. Make it obvious how this will help them do better at their jobs.
- Train even your BIM trainers: While it is a given that training is fundamental, imparting training to the correct sources at the right time is more crucial and important. Training to get acquainted with BIM culture and characteristics, processes, roles, practices, and workflow is important. Providing the right training to the project managers along with the team is vital in this context.
This can help ensure that the BIM strategy is deployed successfully and meaningfully. Like with any transformative new solution, the initial challenges can seem formidable. But once overcome, the benefits are too many to ignore.