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The inside track on the BIM revolution

As the government’s deadline for all centrally procured projects to be delivered through a BIM level 2 process draws closer, so more and more people are joining the BIM revolution.

Attitudes towards BIM have changed significantly over the past year with adoption rates increasing to 54%, as opposed to 39% in 2013 – as published by the National BIM Survey 2014.

We recently carried out a customer survey to gain a greater insight into how BIM is being used by our customers and to better understand what is happening on the front line. The survey generated some interesting results, which we feel can help us and other manufacturers when developing BIM strategies for the future.

Corroborating the National BIM Survey findings, our survey reported a rise in the use of BIM, with 84% of respondents experiencing an increase in the number of projects using BIM modelling.

However, even with this rise in usage still 38% of our respondents said they were complete non-users, with a further 23% stating they are currently non-users but plan to do so within the next 12 months.

When questioned on the advantages and disadvantages of using BIM modelling, the respondents were unanimous in their answer. Increased project coordination and integration of services were by far the most frequently advocated advantages.

As to the disadvantages, these generally centred on one theme – time. From the time required to acquire the necessary skills, the time sourcing the required information and the time needed to set up the initial model, the overall expense of time was deemed a negative factor.

However, ironically, it is over time itself that these issues will resolve themselves, as implementation becomes more widespread and practitioners become more proficient.

Linked to the issue of time the research also offers some valuable lessons for those manufacturers that are already implementing BIM.

With 48% of respondents rating the availability of manufacturers’ product components as “hard”, even with 85% visiting the manufacturer’s own websites first, it is clear that ease of access, visibility on landing pages and the general promotion and availability of manufacturers’ BIM components needs improvement.

In reviewing the demographics/characteristics of respondents the following patterns emerged: adoption appears to have a generational aspect to it with the main users of BIM being aged under 30 or between 30 and 45. Consulting engineers came out as the “early adopters”, closely followed by contractors, and LinkedIn was cited as the preferred social media platform.

From a usage perspective, 78% of respondents currently use BIM for commercial and industrial projects.

However, when questioned on future opportunities most respondents believed residential offered the greatest potential. Some 55% saw mass house building as the main area for growth, followed by 35% for social housing. This suggests BIM is extending its reach well beyond the government mandate for 2016 and is filtering into all sectors of UK construction.

So as BIM continues to grow manufacturers need to align their strategies to their customers’ requirements and ensure they are well positioned for the next stage of the BIM journey.

David Simoes is commercial brand manager at Zehnder

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