Companies that make building materials may be aware of Building Information Modelling, or BIM, but they need to wake up to the size of commercial opportunities.
That’s the message from a raft of professionals and organisations eager to explain how manufacturing firms can use BIM, a technique of data capture to reduce material waste and time in the construction industry, to access a huge construction bonanza.
A report by construction industry marketing consultancy Competitive Advantage shows that at present BIM is used for 3.9% of all construction projects representing £3.8 billion.
But by 2016 its penetration will have increased to 50.8% of projects worth £55.1 billion.
These predictions draw on the Construction Products Association (CPA) summer 2013 market forecasts, the National BIM Report and Competitive Advantage’s own research. Competitive Advantage’s report includes numerous architect’s testimonials and forecasts that say – for a variety of reasons including best practice intent – 50% of this market will be incorporating BIM objects into their design projects.
Government requires the use of fully collaborative, three-dimensional BIM by 2016, on all projects greater than £5 million in value. The Ministry of Justice requires the use of BIM by 2013, both mandates provided in the government’s Construction 2025 strategy, published in July.
Building Information Modelling was devised to reduce waste, save money and improve health and safety in the construction sector. A central pillar in the government’s Construction 2025 strategy, one of BIM’s core principles is to encourage the off-site manufacture of buildings in modules, which are delivered on-site and assembled in kit form – similar to the Huf Haus concept.
Experts believe that BIM can have a transformative effect on how construction works, both for the manufacturer of components and the end-user. Speed of construction is another big advantage of BIM. “In 2012 the Chinese built a 50-storey hotel in just 100-days using a modular approach,” says Tim Platts, a construction industry expert and chair of the BIM4SME group.
The government has established a task force to encourage the construction industry to adopt BIM on a mass scale, the BIM Task Group, led by David Philp, head of BIM Implementation at the Cabinet Office.
“Companies need to wake up to modern construction methods, as we are already behind many European countries on construction efficiency and traditional methods of building are so wasteful – in time, materials, engineering and litigation,” says Mr Platts. In Japan, he says, modular construction is used on more than 50% of its buildings, while the UK uses it in less than five per cent.
“Improved productivity is top of the benefits, where building offsite means companies can iron-out imperfections before transportation, avoiding expensive corrections on site.”
“Health & safety and environmental benefits come next, this includes carbon management, which BIM can improve substantially.” A third benefit, he alludes, could be greater British sovereignty in the construction materials industry, a common target for foreign acquisition.
The more collaborative, information-sharing industry that BIM is intended to facilitate could lead to the success of more SMEs competing on a level playing field for building materials with big multinationals.
“The provision of BIM objects is now an issue of when, not if,” says Chris Ashworth of Competitive Advantage Consultancy. ”The manufacturer needs to consider: How do I select the right software, how do I make sure the right level of detail is provided, how do I support it properly and most importantly how do I justify the cost to my finance director?
“The research shows that today architects designing with BIM are very likely to select products supported by BIM objects over alternatives,” he adds.
Several organisations are promoting information and events on the advantages of BIM use and compliance. Some links are given below.
BIM4SME, a workshop on BIM for SME manufacturers and construction industry professionals: http://www.rics.org/uk/training-events/networking/bim4sme—sheffield-and-hull–humber-city-region/sheffield/
Adoption of BIM - 2013 research by Competitive Advantage.
Five ways to specify manufacturer product information by Dr Steve Hamil of NBS
How BIM is accelerating in industry: http://www.thenbs.com/topics/BIM/articles/rapidAccelerationOfBIM.asp
BIM and how it effects design: http://themidnightlunch.com/bim-onomics-how-will-bim-change-the-business-of-design/