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 is mind I asked Rebecca De Cicco, an Architect passionate about digital design and technology and prominent member of the UK BIM Community her thoughts on how building product manufacturers can benefit from BIM.

Q – Nearly half of 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 have had many discussions with Contractors and Designers. I agree in some ways. In the early stages of design greater thought is being given to the elements of the building, it is very involved, therefore a change will not necessarily be made by the Contractor. On the other hand, as the project team move through the process, BIM will enable easy insertion and removal of elements, meaning it is quick and simple, so the Contractor may choose to exchange and replace elements as they move through the projects.

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 can the product manufacturer help?

I have spoken to a series of manufacturers regarding their BIM elements and objects, I have also worked with the National BIM Library and other organisations to ensure building product manufacturers are not left behind. One of the main barriers to the adoption of BIM is technical expertise, the industry is still getting to grips with the level of detail required at the various stages of the design process. Manufacturers must ensure they are aware of not only the government push for Level 2 by 2016, but also what is required before and leading to that time to create a strong place for them in industry.

The manufacturer can help by being involved in the early stages of the design process. This will ensure that their products are used and detailed as the project moves forward. 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.

Q – In your opinion what are the main benefits of BIM for the building product manufacturer?

One benefit I do see BIM offering the manufacturer is the ability to monitor and track their products, how they are used in design, and in-use.

Other benefits come from enabling clarity of design. Providing BIM objects for the design team means the design team has a greater understanding of the product and how it works in the design overall. The main benefits for Architects are:

  • The ability to use the geometry from the BIM element to understand special requirements, instead of using generic placeholders. To get greater understanding on how a specific building product will function in its space, how people will interact with it, and ultimately how it is maintained and used.
  • The ability to pull varying levels of data into the schedule documents that link to the specification saves time and helps with accuracy.
  • The ability to trial and test objects based on data usage. To understand how the product functions as an element in the design and over its life-cycle, understanding its in-use effect.

All of this makes the architects life easier, as well as saving time. Having the associated data included in BIM objects streamlines the design process, allowing the Architect to embed actual content into the early stages model.

Rebecca De Cicco, Architect working at David Miller Architects and prominent member of the UK BIM community

Digital design and technology first became a passion for Rebecca as an undergraduate. Since graduating as an architect in Australia in 2002, innovation has been the platform for her career, learning through practical experience how new technology can promote excellence throughout the whole building lifecycle. This underpins her role at DMA where she works with the team and our partners to trial and apply new techniques to ensure that the practice remains at the leading edge of technology developing the most intelligent solutions for our clients. Rebecca is a prominent member of the UK BIM community, supporting projects with the Government’s BIM Task Group and as Steering Group Lead for the CIC’s (Construction Industry Council) BIM2050 group. She works with Autodesk to beta test new software and is a regular speaker and contributor at events focusing on innovation in the built environment.

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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