Are product manufacturers ready for the UK BIM mandate and have their investments been worthwhile?

Credit: Steve Thompson
Credit: Steve Thompson

Building Products Magazine have spoken with a variety of construction product manufacturers to gain an insight into their Building Information Modelling adoption trials and tribulations, finding out whether their journeys have been fruitful thus far.

Tata Steel‘s Steve Thompson (also Chair of the BIM4M2 industry group), Julie Maguire of Merriot Radiators, Stephen Sturch of Armacell and Joanna Lush of GX Glass made up the panel of professionals representing BIM-ready business equipped for the start of the UK Government’s 2016 mandate.

The interview with the four experts tackled topics such as being ready for the mandate to begin, why their respective company decided to adopt BIM in the first place, whether excessive standards and guidelines are making the transition to BIM more difficult, and whether their interest in BIM has been worth it.

On if the industry is ready for 2016:

JL: “The latest statistics from the NBS, which put awareness and usage of BIM at under 50% (NBS BIM report 2014) are an indicator that the industry hasn’t fully committed yet.

“Resistance to change, due to the investment of time and money (and the sometimes baffling data requirements) needed for BIM, is behind some of those statistics. As with any technological change in ways of working, I think we will see a surge as the late adopters within the manufacturing industry start to see more requests for BIM from large corporates, as well as the public sector, into 2016, and realise that it will affect how and when they are specified.”

ST: “I certainly don’t think the industry as a whole will be ready, but it’s still great to see how far we have come over the last few years. Remember that not everyone will be working on public projects requiring Level 2 straight away, and those that will, tend to be prepared for the challenge. Outside of those working on public sector projects there is still a long way to go, but I also sense that many realise the benefits and potential for digital processes within construction and are getting to grips with how it can benefit their businesses.”

Should manufacturers “bite the bullet” regarding BIM and have faith that BIM will be widely used for future generations?

SS: “BIM does require a significant investment and it is therefore understandable that some manufacturers have not yet gone ahead. However, in becoming the first to offer BIM for flexible insulation, we took the view that because it makes specifying insulation easier, and gives both the designer and the client better visibility of building performance, it was important to make the investment.”

JL: “We took the pro-active approach and invested in 2014. The need for BIM from an environmental, time, cost, and data management perspective is well documented, and our audience comprises both contractors and specifiers. We can only see positives from our products being available in the BIM format, so that they can be dragged into specs and drawings, which is great for us.

“If BIM does what it has set out to do, then why would we not want our products available at a click of a button?”

ST: “No, I certainly wouldn’t recommend just biting the bullet and investing. Firstly, there are many different types of BIM objects out there, some much better and more useful than others, so you need to think about what your customers need – what type of data and geometry. Everyone wants different information, from ‘all of your BIM’, to specific data that may not be in an object bought off the shelf.

“Secondly, not all manufacturers are affected in the same way. I’d recommend manufacturers visit the BIM4M2 website, where we have a section called The Curve. This provides a tool to give you an indication on the potential impact to your business, followed by impartial guidance on how to develop your BIM strategy and implement it.”

On whether their investment has been worthwhile:

JM: “We certainly feel that our investment so far has been worthwhile, and is in line with current BIM demands. Based on the exposure we’ve had to BIM so far, we’ve been very impressed, and we’re already seeing the positive effect it is having on the way the world of construction operates.

“It’s too early to quantify the return on our investment in BIM, but we must remember that the official deadline is still several months away. Over the course of 2016, we expect to see a noticeable spike in demand and, subsequently, a significant ROI.”

SS: “These BIM objects will make a significant contribution to the design, modelling and running of a building over its life cycle and will therefore revolutionise the way in which insulation is specified. When this is factored against the initial cost of developing BIM, we feel as though it is an investment that adds value to our customer proposition.”

Click here to read the full interview. We recommend that you do!

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