Attending the recent Spring BIMForum in Boston, many of the topics and discussions reminded me of an internal presentation I held in our office back in February. My presentation compared Building Information Modeling (BIM) of the architects for design, to the Building Models construction managers and general contractors are creating for construction.
Part of what reminded me of my presentation was the distribution of attendees at the BIMForum; well over 50% contractors and the remaining 50% split among architects and engineers. This represents the growing trend of BIM in the AEC marketplace over the past few years because of the adoption rate by the CM/GC and the benefits they are achieving.
Contractors in recent years have exploded in their use of technology for BIM. They have adopted its use in nearly every phase of their projects from early permitting, pre-construction activities and studying phases of construction, getting an early start on most projects well before design is complete.
They are performing more than quantity take-offs, using BIM for logistics of materials, staging of equipment and sequencing of construction activities. They are using BIM by modeling nearly every aspect of construction to gain better understanding of exact quantities of items, simulating concrete pours, exact rebar cuts and prefabrication of items to speed construction and provide better quality control, which has also led to new methods like Lean Construction, maximizing resources and minimizing waste.
Architect’s use of BIM can be different; architects are designing for intent and not always modeling every aspect of a design for construction. For the architect, BIM offers many opportunities to explore design options to help convey ideas to clients and the extended design team. Just as physical models can be used to study options, building models can be used similarly to communicate design intent.
Finally, the client has interest different from the architects and contractors but has many benefits to gain from the use of BIM throughout the process. For the client, BIM can benefit their design, schedule and cost but can also benefit the life cycle and operation of buildings. The building models can be used for equipment and furnishing coordination and facilities management operations.
One common word was heard throughout the BIMForum for BIM to succeed: collaborate. Collaborate early and often; let your intentions be known to the full team so that everyone is on board early in the process. Most parties agreed that getting started early and communicating their intent was the best road to successful BIM.