The Shift Towards BIM (And What It Means for You)
The Shift Towards BIM (And What It Means for You)
There are changes coming in the way that you work. Universities also have to change the way that they teach. Building Information Modelling is the next big thing. Here’s what that means for you.
The architectural and engineering sectors have changed massively over the last 50 years. We’ve gone from pencil and paper drawings to photorealistic 3D models. Every new technological advancement changes the way that you do things. The introduction of computer-aided design (CAD) created a change. So did the introduction of 3D digital design software.
Even today, we’re seeing technologies like virtual reality and 3D printing shake up the industry.
But there’s perhaps no greater change coming than Building Information Modelling. This isn’t a new technology for you to integrate into your current methods. It’s a completely new way of working.
The rise of Building Information Modelling changes everything. Firms have to adapt to this new methodology to stay competitive. Universities have to teach it in order to properly prepare their students for the industry.
Despite this, there are still misconceptions about what BIM is and what it means for the industry. This article aims to clear things up. It explains the basics of Building Information Modelling. But it also explains why it’s so important and what it means for firms and universities.
What is BIM?
First, let’s explain what BIM is not. BIM isn’t a new technology. It’s not like a digital design software package that you can learn and integrate into your current processes.
Instead, it’s a new methodology that places a greater emphasis on sustainability and collaboration. With BIM, you involve all of your project’s stakeholders from the beginning. Moreover, everybody involved has access to a central database. This allows them to add and edit information as needed.
It works like this. You’ll create a central database that everybody has access to. This usually involves the use of cloud computing. Modern technologies also provide access to this database from an array of devices.
All stakeholders add project information into this database. Suppliers may provide costing information for different materials. Electricians may provide information about the circuitry required for the building. The design creates the base model, and so on.
The key is that the model has a direct link to the information in the database. As a result, the model changes whenever somebody adds information. This can be an automated process too. Moreover, you can see project-relevant information within the model itself. For example, you may click on a design’s floor. When you do, BIM allows the model to demonstrate important information about the floor, such as the materials required and the cost of making it.
The end result is a single model that display all of the information needed to move the project forward. Through it all, every major stakeholder has collaborated. Clients can see the design progress as it happens. Construction crews and other professionals can spot issues before they become major problems.
BIM also has four levels, ranging from 0 to 3. Level 0 denotes practically no use of the collaborative principles of BIM. At Level 3, you’ve achieved BIM in its purest form. All stakeholders collaborate and you create a single model that showcases all of the project information.
Why Make the Switch?
As you can see, Building Information Modelling is an interesting concept. But it also takes a lot of work to implement. It requires you to get all of your clients and business partners on board with the methodology. Plus, you have to change the way your firm works to use it effectively. This means plenty of training, gaining internal buy-in, and possible delays to other work.
So, why make the switch? Here are four reasons that firms and universities must switch to Building Information Modelling.
Reason #1 – Governments Want You To
Many firms survive because they can attract public sector work. Governments take responsibility for a lot of major infrastructure projects.
This means that you need to work within your government’s requirements to be able to pitch for their work. And many of today’s governments want Building Information Modelling.
You can see this clearly in the international market. Since 2016, the United Kingdom has mandated the use of BIM for many projects. Singapore operates an e-submissions system that requires firms to use BIM for projects of a certain size. In France, the government committed itself to building 500,000 houses using BIM.
Australia has been a little slow off the mark when it comes to BIM mandates. But they’re coming. Queensland introduced a new mandate in 2017 that requires the use of BIM for many infrastructural projects. It’s likely that other states will introduce similar mandates in the coming years.
So, what happens if you don’t make the switch? Simply put, you lose access to the work. Such mandates will result in the refusal of pitches that don’t follow the BIM framework. As a result, Building Information Modelling is no longer an optional framework. For many firms, it’s becoming a requirement.
Reason #2 – It Means Less Work For You
Mandates give a slightly negative spin on the Building Information Modelling issue. Nobody wants others to tell them they have to do something.
Luckily, there are several benefits of BIM that make things easier. One of those is that BIM leads to less work for you on major projects.
Think about the way you currently design models. You’ll have a base model that just showcases the design. Then, you have to build several more models and 2D drawings. Each of this shows a different subset of information. You may have a 2D floor plan to go along with the 3D model. You may also rework your 3D model constantly to demonstrate a structure’s thermal properties or other information.
These processes require you to rework your model when you get new information. That’s a lot of time spent on doing things that you’ve already done.
The use of a single model in BIM changes all of that. The model contains all of the information needed for the project. Project stakeholders and designers don’t have to keep going back and forth to rework things. BIM eliminates redundancy, which makes you more efficient. The end result is time saved that you can use elsewhere.
Reason #3 – BIM Saves Money
Building Information Modelling doesn’t just result in cost savings for your clients. It can also help your firm to save a lot of money.
The lack of reworking and increased efficiency help here. Your people save time on manual tasks, which means they can use their time more effectively elsewhere. Fewer delays means you run less risk of going over budget.
The same goes for the increased amount of accuracy that BIM creates. Having so much information available for the creation of your models means you’re less likely to make mistakes during the design process.
This pays dividends once building starts. With BIM, you make much more accurate estimates in regard to the type and amount of materials you need. This allows you to pre-fabricate materials. Again, this saves time, which leads to cost savings.
Moreover, this increased accuracy also lowers the risk of over-ordering materials.
Implementing Building Information Modelling does come at a cost. You’ll invest heavily into training and may need to buy BIM software. However, when done well, the cost savings of BIM outweigh the initial investment.
Reason #4 – Superior Visualisation
Some governments may mandate the use of BIM. But many of your clients don’t. As a result, you can use a BIM-based model to impress them and get a jump ahead of your competition.
This is because Building Information Modelling allows for better visualisation. This confronts one of the main challenges that firms face when dealing with clients. Namely, helping the client to visualise what you see in your head.
The increased accuracy of your models helps with this. You’re not just presenting a 3D model to the client. You’re also showing them all of the project-relevant information that they need to know.
Superior visualisation leads to more successful pitches.
What This Means for Firms
So, what does the slow march towards Building Information Modelling mean for firms?
In the long term, it means that you have to adapt. If you’re not prepared to work in the BIM framework, you’ll attract less business. Your competitors will make the change. This means they can pitch for work that mandates the use of BIM in the public sector. Firms in Queensland will see this in full effect by 2023. If they haven’t made the switch, they lose out on a huge pool of potential work.
But what about businesses that appeal primarily to the private sector. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid Building Information Modelling in this situation either. Remember that many of your competitors do both public and private work. They’ll have shifted to BIM for the public work and will use it to pitch for private work. If they can argue the benefits of BIM to private clients, you’re left with a mountain to climb when you pitch.
Simply put, firms must start laying the groundwork for a transition to BIM. But this isn’t something that you can do overnight. You have existing work to complete. Plus, BIM changes your entire organisation.
As a result, you need a comprehensive training program that covers all aspects of the methodology. It takes in much more than the design. It also includes things like contracts and the eventual handover to your clients. Everybody in the organisation needs to understand what BIM is and their roles within the new framework.
Firms need to create detailed plans for the transition. These include how they’ll train staff at all levels of the organisation. But you also need plans in place for getting business partners and internal stakeholders on board.
Here’s the simple point. Firms that don’t switch to BIM soon will find themselves struggling in the near future. This is especially the case for international firms that operate in countries that have mandated BIM already.
What This Means for Universities
Universities have a slightly different challenge ahead of them when it comes to BIM. These institutions mould the minds of the people that will enter the industry in the future. The key thing here is that even more firms will use BIM when the current crop of students starts graduating. Take the Queensland mandate as an example. A student who starts studying today will graduate into an environment where they have to work in the BIM framework.
This presents a twofold problem for universities. The most obvious is how they go about teaching BIM to their students. Happily, universities have an advantage over firms in this regard. They don’t have to fit training sessions around their projects. Universities can create courses and modules that their students can dedicate themselves to.
But it’s in course creation that the second issue rears its head. It’s possible that some universities don’t have Building Information Modelling experts on staff. If that’s the case, their teachers need to learn about the topic before they can teach it. They may also face the same struggles as firms do in terms of creating good courses.
Universities must find ways to overcome these issues. And they must do it now. If they don’t, they’ll end up with students who aren’t properly prepared for the industry and how it’s changing.
Both universities and firms must start adapting to the rise of BIM now. For firms, adopting BIM may be the difference between growth and failure in a few years’ time.
For universities, it’s all about preparing the minds of their students for the state of the industry they’ll enter.
It all starts with proper training, which is where both firms and universities may struggle. Thankfully, help is at hand. Archistar Academy has created a range of courses that cover what you need to know about BIM. Our BIM Essentials course gives you a solid grounding to work from. But we also offer more in-depth courses that cover the specific BIM software that you’ll use within the framework.
Does that sound interesting to you? If so, we want to hear from you. Contact an Archistar representative now to find out how you can access comprehensive BIM courses.
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Posted on 13 Mar 2019