Our recent research, Adoption of BIM by Architects, has been compiled to provide an impartial view to help product manufacturers make informed decisions as part of their BIM strategy. The provision of BIM objects by building product manufacturers is now an issue of when, not if and of course how! With this in mind I asked David Philp, Head of the BIM Implementation at the Cabinet Office his thoughts on how building product manufacturers can benefit from BIM.

Q – Our research demonstrates Architects are very likely to select products supported by BIM objects and this is set to almost double by 2016. How do you see BIM influencing product specification?

The project information model has three phases, the design model, the construction model and finally the as built model. During the design model I see Architects and the design team using generic objects to demonstrate design intent. I see the Contractor swapping this generic model for a specific object. With BIM the Contractor will be involved significantly earlier in the process, at design stage. Earlier Contractor engagement means the design process will be more collaborative in nature, a more coordinated approach between Architect, Engineer and Contractor. Influence on product specification will be early in the process and from across the project team.

Q – How do you see BIM affecting the design process? Normally in design the Architect/Engineer will select an element and add the BIM Object. How likely is it that in situations such as Design and Build the Architect/Engineer will simply keep a performance specification and the Contractor will add the BIM object upon installation?

The Contractor adding a BIM object, following a performance specification by the Architect I see as being the norm. With earlier engagement from Contractors, there will be earlier procurement, with greater activity at the front end of the construction process.

What is key for the product manufacturers is providing the right amount of information at the right time. I am often seeing BIM objects that are too detailed in their information for design stage. The Digital Plan of Work is a standard that looks at the appropriate levels of development needed. At conceptual stage providing a high level of detail in your BIM object holds no value.

Q – Nearly half of the Architects surveyed in our research felt that Contractors were more likely to stay with specifications as a result of BIM. In your mind how do you think BIM will affect the switching of specifications?

I would agree that Contractors will be more likely to stay with specifications as a result of BIM. BIM allows for better validation and transparency. We can test design models, validating performance and compatibility of products meaning that products are unlikely to be swapped out later in the process. And with Contractors being involved earlier in the process their influence on specification has already been felt. However we are starting to see Main Contractors developing their own kit of parts that they manufacture themselves.

Q – Over half of the Architects surveyed in our research said they would expect manufacturers to have a reasonable level of BIM expertise. What do you see as the barriers to the adoption of BIM? How can these be overcome and how can the product manufacturer help?

Manufacturers have a huge role to play. There’s a growing number of BIM libraries and also manufacturer websites holding BIM objects, both with conceptual as well as manufacturer specific objects. I am seeing greater thought for maintaining these objects as well as the life-cycle data sets.

Many manufacturers are providing digital representation of their products, yet it is essential they provide context, with classification, as is the case with traditional libraries. As I stated earlier it is also important to provide the right object, with the right level of detail at the right time. Positively the Construction Products Association has set up BIM for Manufacturers to drive this agenda and I look forward to seeing greater engagement from the manufacturer as a result of this.

David Philp, Head of BIM Implementation, Cabinet Office

David is responsible for ensuring that the Cabinet Office’s BIM requirements are delivered through the programme. He also manages: the stakeholder and communications strategy (both internal and external), laser scanning WP, SME BIM awareness WP and chairs the BIM2050 Group.

Further Reading

Construction Research: Adoption of BIM: 2013 Building Information Modelling is a hot topic, with government and the construction industry shouting its benefits. The problem for the manufacturer, with hard pressed budgets, is will I get a return on my investment? Adoption of BIM has been researched and written to help answer that question and then make the right implementation choices

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