What’s in BIM for me?

Australia is an interesting place. We are highly competitive, we love to hear the score and we constantly compare ourselves and our places to the rest of the world.


BIM is now emerging as the catalyst for change in the way we build worldwide. The recent 2014 McGraw Hill Smart market report on the value of BIM found US contractors to be far more advanced in BIM implementation than all other regions surveyed. However, when reporting a positive Return on Investment (ROI), the US trails Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Brazil and Australia and New Zealand.


When we look to the UK, the Government mandate for 2016 is crafted in a way that pulls contractors toward BIM and pushes the industry to deliver the expertise via a national standard and supporting education.


The strategy has resulted in a rise in activity with McGraw Hill reporting a 37 per cent take-up of BIM in the UK over the last year. However, reporting a positive ROI proves more elusive and along with the US, the UK trails all regions except South Korea.


So is the BIM / Lean mandate in itself able to achieve the UK Government’s 20 per cent capital cost reduction target or is this really going to be achieved by an industry that wants change?


Australia has a strong base of early adopters – those who have chosen to follow the BIM path and did not have to be told to follow it. We are very self-motivated and this has led to the development of world class modelling skills in the design space. Australia chose BIM as opposed to the UK being told to do it and those in the US being sold the idea by software vendors. Our challenge is to take BIM beyond national standards and design and into 4D and 5D model data innovation.


Real Quantifiable Savings


Globally, three quarters of all contractors surveyed by McGraw Hill report a positive Return on Investment (ROI) through BIM. Dig a bit deeper however, and hard evidence or analysis to support this view is not easy to find. Often, this is the information that is needed to help people and organisations make a decision to move into 3D and then into the BIM world.


On a project by project or company specific basis, the evidence is less formal but it is compelling that a move into 3D and then BIM is a more certain place for our industry and most importantly significant savings will be returned to the business when it reaches a level of maturity and proficiency. The analysis of ROI that individual companies are reporting is also evident across the supply chain.


Australian designers chose to work in 3D on all projects because it’s more efficient. At last year’s RTC Conference, both Sydney-based architect Rod Perey and interior designer Ceilidh Higgins reported that their projects achieved a 30 per cent saving in man hours for design when working in 3D rather than 2D.


Likewise, many subcontractors have chosen to work in 3D because it’s better for their business. Mechanical contractors are very well positioned and are reporting labour savings of up to 30 per cent through integrated supply chain workflows and where contractors support the use of ‘blue banger hangers’ and pre-fabricated riser, corridor and plant room modules.


It’s difficult to find reports from Australian contractors on business improvements because they are only just implementing BIM on a project basis. I am not aware of any local contractors that have completed implementation of 3D or BIM at an enterprise.


In the US it’s quite different because the American General Contractors Association were one of the founding partners of the BIM initiative. There are several examples of general contractors such as Turner that have adopted BIM as an enterprise system. TURIS is an organisation that is focused on implementing technological advancements to achieve greater efficiencies in construction businesses. TURIS believes that general contractors are actually builders of concrete structures because contractors purchase the materials. The organisation reports labour savings of between 5 to 8 per cent on concrete production for entire projects.



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This article was originally published by David Mitchell on Sourceable.net. 


David Mitchell regularly contributes to Mitchell Brandtman’s construction Blog www.mitbrand.com/blog where you can read more of his views on BIM, Lean Construction and 5D Cost Planning as well as the views of many other authors. 


For more on 5D and BIM advocacy please visit Mitchell Brandtman’s website www.mitbrand.com


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