For a building product manufacturer the need to provide BIM support will become as necessary as the provision of standard specification clauses or CAD details. To benefit from BIM you need to understand how your building products should be presented and the information that will be required. Then, just as standard specifications are provided today, you will need to create files which can be emailed or downloaded from your website and imported into the different proprietary systems.

Our recent research, Adoption of BIM by Architects 2015 reflects the views of 100 leading architects, gathered during September 2015, on how they will adopt BIM, the software they use and what they expect from manufacturers. One of the findings demonstrates:

  • Only 37% of respondents could name a manufacturer that they consider provides good content and support to users of BIM

With this statistic in mind this blog seeks to explore how manufacturers can provide BIM support to architects.

BIM – providing the right level of product information at the right time

The project information model has three phases, the design model, the construction model and finally the as-built model. It’s most important for manufacturers to offer BIM objects in the right format, at the right stage of the design process, with the right level of detail.

“I believe the next step for the manufacturer will be the provision of a series of varied levels of detail in their content, so the design team can pull in geometrical components into their models, to then pull in elements of data as and when needed in the design process, so not overloading the early stage model with memory-hungry data. This is very important as many manufacturers overload their products with detailed geometry.” Rebecca De Cicco, Architect at DMA and prominent member of the UK BIM Community

Our research report into the Adoption of BIM by Architects indicates the key stages when the product placeholder is exchanged for a specific BIM object. Data rich BIM objects can contain a large amount of information about a construction component. This information can include detailed dimensions, component-placement, material specifications, structural performance, fire rating, U-values, carbon content, cost, maintenance schedules, performance and much more. Due to their file size they may not be required in the early stage model.

Indeed, dependent on the product type, architects may not need a BIM object at all from the manufacturer, just the data which they use with their own geometry. Our recent research, Adoption of BIM by Architects gives detail on what BIM object elements are preferred. The data format required is also explored, as well as maximum file size.

For BIM to be an effective specification resource for the building product manufacturer it is important to provide the right level of information at the right time. Knowing how your customer is using BIM is key to understanding and so supporting their needs.

Importantly, BIM provides opportunity for building product manufacturers to support specifiers and work in collaboration on design. Manufacturers need to think about how they engage with the project team. It needs to be in a collaborative manner and not a hard sell.

As with every effective specification strategy it is important to know your customer and ‘speak their language’ and position yourself as Trusted Advisor. BIM brings with it new terminology, so ensure your team are trained and confident in speaking the language. And make downloads easily available on your website, alongside more traditional forms of product information and details of your CPD seminars.

The industry is still learning to use BIM, and even the leading architects we interviewed, all of whom have been using BIM for some time, send out mixed messages on everything from the format required, to file size and where to host objects. So there is no clear ‘one size fits all’, yet our recent research gives an indication of how individual architect practices are using BIM. The research aims to inform BIM strategy for construction product manufacturers, so that you can invest effectively to provide leading technical support and engage with architects.

So what do architects want from building product manufacturers? In a nutshell they want the right level of product information at the right stage of the design process, together with support that avoids the hard sell. What format this information takes? Well this could be different dependent on your specific construction product, but the BIM journey is not one to avoid, with the government’s deadline for implementation now only 7 months away.


Further information

Adoption of BIM by Architects 2015

This impartial research report indicates how architects are implementing BIM, their requirements in terms of proprietary software, COBie, Product Data Templates and the use of Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). There is also feedback on the stage of the design process that they change from placeholder to manufacturer object. This report will inform your BIM strategy so that you can provide effective technical support and engage with architects. Cost is just £350 + VAT



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