Once considered by some to be a tool for larger firms who can afford to employ specialists, building information modeling, or BIM, is becoming more frequently used by design and construction professionals around the world.
A recent report from Transparency Market Research mentioned that the global BIM market will grow from $2.6 billion in 2014 to $11.54 billion in 2022. North America is by far the biggest market for BIM, but the Asia Pacific region will grow fastest in BIM use from 2015-2022, according to the report. Cyon Research, says the European Union is quickly picking up on BIM, and the United Kingdom – an early adopter of BIM via a project for Heathrow Airport in the early 1980’s – recently mandated using BIM at the collaborative level for larger national projects, beginning in 2016.
Companies with the means to do so are hiring or training an in-house BIM expert to facilitate greater use of the technology, but hiring and training such a pro doesn’t ensure a firm will have the capacity necessary to use it at scale on large projects or during peak activity. Rather than going through the hassles of hiring, training and subsequent lay-offs due to the cyclical nature of the business, many companies are turning to specialists for outsourced assistance.
The JBKnowledge 2015 Construction Technology Report reported that many firms around the country are outsourcing to third-party companies with at least one staff member who is available for on-site support.
As a case in point, Honolulu-based Benjamin Woo Architects (BWA) turned to ARC Document Solutions for BIM design services for their $1 billion Park Lane Ala Moana, a large luxury residential/resort development next to Waikiki in Honolulu. By partnering with ARC’s BIM Service, BWA not only met Park Lane project deadlines, but the firm delivered the project under budget. By supplementing its own capabilities with ARC’s BIM services, the firm reduced staff and production time on the job by more than 50%.
The benefits are clear for the increased adoption of BIM. In addition to continuing industry commentary, ARC Document Solutions’ 2016 Survey on Construction Trends identified that BIM will contribute in these key areas – facilitate project management, detect problems before actual construction occurs, design workflow sequencing, and to improve client interactions. The top benefits of BIM/ virtual reality cited in the survey were:
- Projects will be easier to visualize (51.9%)
- Projects will be completed faster (48.3%)
- Projects will require fewer workers (42.2%)
- Projects will require less material (40.8%)
- If an architecture firm must partner with a BIM service provider on a project, using an experienced firm it trusts can be a key to success.
BIM is designed to generate and view such models allow the user to view and analyze a structure from any angle and visualize operations, and provide the ability to virtually “fly” through a building. Its advantages include:
- Faster and more effective design and engineering processes – information is more easily shared and reused.
- Better design—building proposals can be rigorously analyzed, simulations can be performed quickly, and performance can be benchmarked, enabling improved and innovative solutions.
- Controlled whole-life costs and environmental data—environmental performance is more predictable; lifecycle costs are better understood.
- Better production quality—documentation output is flexible and exploits automation.
- Automated assembly—digital product data can be leveraged in downstream processes and used for manufacturing/assembling of structures prior to delivery on a job site.
- Better customer service—proposals are better understood through accurate visualization.
- Lifecycle data—requirements, design, construction and operational information can be used in facilities management.
Far from the esoteric tool it was when introduced in the 1970’s, BIM has become far more available to design and construction industry professionals over the past several years, and shows no signs of slowing adoption.
The gains in productivity, efficiency and quality through its use are undeniable, and access to professional users – either in-house or through third-party providers – suggest that BIM might easily become a standard-issue power tool in the