Building information modeling (BIM) is a controversial topic. BIM champions have been extolling its virtues of design efficiency, construction cost and time savings, and maintenance economies for owners. Yet BIM has not become as widely used as expected in the United States. In the U.K., for example, the government has put into place standards with the goal that all public construction projects utilize collaborative BIM from start to finish, with all project and asset information, documentation, and data being electronic by 2016-2017. So what seems to be the issues holding BIM back? With the 2015 BIM Experience survey launched this past month, ConstructionPro Network set out to see what it could learn.
In this first article, we summarize the results of our survey. A second installment will compile the individual responses and report on the best practices that have been provided by our readers.
In ConstructionPro Network's Estimating Survey article published last month, results showed that a full 50% of respondents were contractors. However, only 23% of the BIM survey respondents were contractors and less than 7% were architects or engineers. While estimating may be of more importance to contractors than owners, architects and engineers, we still expected more contractors to weigh in on their thoughts. That may tell us something right there - contractors may just not be interested.
Architects represented the largest group of respondents at 23% and engineers the second largest group at 18%. Private owners came in at 2.5% and public owners at 4%. That is another indication of either lack of interest or lack of knowledge of the process.
BIM Experience - Reasons for Using
With 47% of respondents saying they used a BIM tool, process or approach, we do have a rather BIM-experienced group to study. It is worth noting that a full 63% either voluntarily implemented BIM or it was a company mandate, rather than because it was an owner or general contractor requirement. Here are some of the reasons cited for implementing BIM:
- Prefabrication and increased field production
- Better coordination to reduce "redo" work, increased productivity during construction and better visualization for users
- Visualization and experimentation
- 3D customer reviews, steel fabrication and sub coordination
- Reduce mistakes from lack of A/E coordination
- The ability to demonstrate accessibility issues on complex projects
- Cost savings, pre-fabrication and project scheduling
- Good fit for projects with complex interfaces between components
- Improved workflow, improved constructability and less field rework
- Coordination of trades (multiple responses)
- Improved positioning for design contests
- Help to make complex shapes and predictable models for production of cray buildings
- Estimating and presentation tool
- More efficient design tool than using 3D CAD
- More sales through visualization
- Powerful use enables preparation of construction documents and making visualizations
- Helps communicate 3D ideas to 2D dimensionally challenged decision makers
- 3D modeling and visualization
- Ability to help clients visualize; ability to show materials and colors more easily
- Helps everyone to understand where specified products go and how they work
The survey supports the frequent anecdotal benefits of BIM that we have observed - better coordination and cost savings, but we do see more interest among users for its usefulness in constructability, staging and scheduling tasks. Another observation is the number of people that cited visualization as a specific benefit, both for working with clients as well as with the construction team.
BIM continues to have its supporters and we fully expect to see wider use of the technology, albeit at a slower pace of implementation. As discussed in last week's Construction Productivity article, BIM is a critical component in collaborative project delivery methods, and that will be one of the more important drivers for BIM growth. In future coverage of the BIM Experience Survey, we'll look at some of the BIM tools themselves, the issues users have encountered, as well as what the respondents see for BIM implementation down the road.
Note, for those interested in getting involved with BIM or for more hands-on tips on BIM usage in the field, COBIE and facilities management, check out WPL Publishing's BIM Roadmap 2015 webinar series that starts March 11. Several BIM pioneers and experienced users will be sharing their experiences and usage tips in this exclusive 4-part series. For more information, click here.