BIM (Building Information Modelling) is now competing with Sustainability as the ‘hot topic’ for the construction industry since the government announcement that it will be required on all public sector projects over £5 million from 2016 onwards. This programme of implementation is already underway with the Ministry of Justice and NHS now requiring it on projects going out to tender.

The government is keen to see BIM adopted as it has the potential to improve integration of the different elements of the project team (Architect, Engineer, Main Contractor, Specialist Contractor) leading to reduced construction costs. But, more important, the potential cost savings during the life of the building have the potential to be much greater. This will be achieved through reduced maintenance and operating costs. Other client organisations can soon be expected to follow the government’s lead and require BIM, we are already hearing about client user groups for Retail and Rail.

Contractors are already enjoying the benefits of BIM as costly on-site changes are avoided. So, although initially adopting BIM in response to client demand, they can also be expected to pressure the other members of the construction team to use BIM as standard.

For a manufacturer the need to provide BIM objects will become as necessary as the provision of standard specification clauses or CAD details. At the moment we are talking about early adopters, but very soon it will become mandatory for companies that wish to achieve effective specification selling.

The most obvious barrier to providing BIM objects for a manufacturer is available resource. But this is less of a problem than you might think. Work can be outsourced to one of the BIM library providers, just passing them your technical literature, and BIM objects can be prepared for the price of a brochure.

More of a challenge is deciding the software. There is a move towards open standards, but as yet this is not being widely used by contractors or specifiers. So which software to select? There are 6 major software vendors, with Rivitt the market leader. But our recently completed research report Adoption of BIM shows that this is not used by 65% of the top architectural and engineering practices. So before deciding on a format, make sure that your key specifiers are using it. Adoption of BIM can help you with this as it lists the top 80 engineer practices, top 80 architect practices and top 20 main contractors, and details if they have adopted BIM and the software they use.

Indications are that take-up of BIM will be rapid because of the benefits to all of the members of the construction team. RIBA’s research shows that while in 2010 13% of architects had already adopted it by 2011 these figures had increased to 31%. By construction industry standards this rate of adoption is meteoric, and is not something manufacturers can afford to ignore.

What is your experience of BIM and how do you see it affecting the way you work?

Further reading:

Communicating with Specialist Contractors – an Interview with Stefan Hay
Communicating with Architects – an interview with Su Butcher
6 highs and lows of communicating with construction specifiers
Key Factors for Successful Specification Selling

The Latest Construction Industry Research reports to buy online:

Construction Media Index
Adoption of BIM

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