With construction spending once again on the rise, there has never been a better time to get involved in BIM. “Minimum BIM requirements” are increasingly being included in project bids and specifications, and a growing number of project stakeholders are placing a higher value on companies that offer BIM services.
Still, there are some skeptics who remain on the sidelines. If you’ve been wondering whether BIM is right for your firm, be careful not to get sidetracked by these three common myths.
Myth: BIM is just a sales pitch.
Fact: BIM is a practical process with proven benefits, and it is already intrinsic to the way many construction firms do business. “BIM is integral to everything we do on our projects,” said Sandra Wilkin, founder and president of the New York-based construction management and consulting firm Bradford Construction, in a 2014 panel discussion on BIM. “We recognized five years ago that our clients were looking to adopt BIM, and we realized then that we needed to be able to provide those services and also help small businesses understand it so they’re not left behind. It’s a lot less expensive dealing with issues such as clashes in the virtual world than in the real world.”
Russell Gibbs, regional director of virtual design and construction for the general contracting firm Brasfield & Gorrie admitted that the firm initially saw BIM primarily as a marketing tool. However, the advantages of implementing BIM as a lifecycle process quickly became clear. “From estimating to using models to extract quantities and now to the field, the whole BIM Field Trip is our main focus right now—we’re taking a holistic approach as a company,” he said. “When I can shine a laser on a building where a duct hanger is going to go before it’s there, all of the sudden the light bulb goes on: ‘That’s not just something in a computer, it’s a physical location, and it’s what we’re about to install.’ It’s really a new workflow to help the field team do their job better and extract the information they have back into the 3D world, the virtual world.” The result is a more efficient process with less rework and more accurate models.
Myth: BIM requires specialized, dedicated resources.
Fact: Your existing staff can implement BIM. BIM doesn’t have to be hard. Technology advances have streamlined workflows and dramatically improved the way information is shared between the office and the field. One example is the Nova MultiStation, a high-precision total station that allows field teams to capture high-resolution point cloud data without requiring registration or post-processing. New software is making it easier than ever to take the data from the model into the field for more accurate layout, and to bring field data back into the model so that it accurately reflects real-world conditions. And there are simple ways to get started in BIM—for example, moving from manual to robotic total stations is a good first step for many firms.
Some of the companies that have been the most successful in BIM are those that have relied on their existing project managers and project engineers to integrate BIM into their processes.
Myth: Traditional processes are good enough.
Fact: BIM is transforming construction. When CAD was first introduced to the market 30 years ago, it took a while for professionals to accept the dramatic improvement over drafting by hand. Today, CAD is seen as the standard; why change to 3D? However, firms that don’t adopt BIM will miss out on opportunities as BIM becomes more widespread. The companies that are able to show exactly how the building was constructed and bring more transparency to the process will increasingly win the bids.
BIM is real, and it’s here to stay. The good news is that it’s now easier than ever to integrate BIM into your operations as a lifecycle process that brings measureable value to your company and your clients.
If you need help figuring out the best way to get involved in BIM, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you.