At the end of March the inaugural meeting of BIM4M2 was held. This is the group, representing manufacturers, that now forms part of the government’s BIM Task Force. It is early days, but hopefully the group will be able to influence the standardisation of practices, including templates for BIM objects so that it is easier and less expensive for manufacturers to provide BIM objects.

The group will also be responsible for informing manufacturers about BIM, encouraging and helping them to adopt it.

Looking at the broader picture our research from 2013 suggests that it BIM was used on less that 5% of projects at that time and that by 2016 this will have increased to almost half of all construction projects. My personal expectation is that the adoption of BIM will happen even more rapidly, as it seems to offer benefits to all parties. What is uncertain is the format of objects, the proprietary software used and how they will be made available to designers. The 6 different software options, which are not compatible, must surely be slowing implementation and a common format for objects is needed (something that is also underway).

Now is not the time to wait and see

While the wait and see option is easier and requires no investment it does mean that the manufacturer risks being left behind by competitors.

From the manufacturer’s perspective it should be a matter of when to adopt, not if. Our research shows that designers will give preference when selecting products to those available as BIM objects. No change there. It has always been the case that manufacturers who give good technical support will be more successful at creating specifications.

As an early adopter, the manufacturer has the opportunity to project the image of a technically advanced organisation and also become established as the first choice in product selection. However they will also have to make some difficult decisions such as software options and which library to use. No doubt they will need to make further investment in the future to reflect the evolution of the way that BIM objects are delivered and the move to Level 3 in a few years.

So now is the time to investigate BIM and how it will impact on your business. Talk to your key specifiers and users, what is their approach and what do they expect from you? Start thinking about implementation and what this will involve.

So what are the implications of BIM for the manufacturer?

It encourages a collaborative approach and this should see earlier input from the contractor. RIBA have recognised this by changing their Plan of Works published last year. Early collaboration has the potential to mean that there will be less product substitution later in the programme, as the suitability of products should be debated at the design stage. To do that will require early sales effort directed at the contractor as well as the architect and engineer, also accurate product cost information, not the use of an artificially inflated list price. That in turn will need a rethink of the way that manufacturer price information is made available to the market.

Another potential impact could be a decline in the need for hard copy literature. At present designers often require a hard copy leaflet for the project file to show what they selected for the audit trail. Will the existence of a BIM object remove that need?

Conclusion

So, BIM is here to stay and will impact the industry, not just in the way we design, construct and maintain buildings, but also in terms of the type and form of information that manufacturers have to provide. Whether you invest now or not you do need to be informed about the evolution of BIM and this is not just a matter for the technical team, Marketing should also be part of the decision making process.

Further information:

Chris Ashworth, author of this post, is a member of the BIM4M2 working group and founder of Competitive Advantage. Chris will be delivering a webinar on Incorporating BIM into your Specification Strategy on Thursday 1st May at 12.30. The cost to attend is just £45.00. Click here to register.

Competitive Advantage has produced 2 reports into the Adoption of BIM:

Adoption of BIM by Architects 2013 indicates the rate of adoption, the value of construction influenced by BIM up to 2016, the types of BIM objects required and the support expected from manufacturers.

Adoption of BIM by Specifiers and Contractors 2012 This research report details the take-up and implementation of BIM in the UK Construction Industry, covering the use of CAD and adoption of Building Information Modelling by Architects, Engineers and Contractors.

As well as an eBook: Incorporating BIM into your Specification Sales Strategy

BIM For the Terrified is a free guide produced by the Construction Products Association

What do you want to know about BIM?

Competitive Advantage are embarking on their next research report into the Adoption of BIM. If you would like to provide input into the areas that should be covered we would be glad to hear from you. Contact us on 01276 503539 to talk to us about the Adoption of BIM or email talk@cadvantage.co.uk or leave a comment on this post.

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