Manufacturers hold the key to the future success of BIM

Posted on 21 Mar 2015 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturers not only underpin the BIM model but will prove a crucial factor driving it forward argues, James Smith, product manager BIM for Majenta Solutions.

Now that the UK Government has mandated the use of BIM for publicly-funded projects by 2016, awareness and adoption of building information modelling is growing rapidly.  Yet, in the mounting excitement about the technology’s future prospects, manufacturers often get forgotten with the focus squarely on architects, engineers and consultants.

The truth is, however, that it is often manufacturers, and the manufacturing for building products process in particular, that not only underpin the BIM model but that will be key in driving its future success – not least in the provision of the key ingredient of any BIM project, the BIM object.

It is a viewpoint held strongly by construction professionals, who are increasingly looking to manufacturers to provide BIM objects and content rich data as part of projects.

To turn this vision into reality, it is critical that manufacturers build the foundations for BIM by creating BIM objects and components, and by making product libraries available to architects and engineers, thereby helping them achieve competitive advantage when pitching for contracts.

This process is certainly under way. BIM Adoption by Product Manufacturers, a recent survey produced by industry working group, BIM 4 Manufacturers & Manufacturing (BIM4M2), found that 90% of the 188 individuals polled had either already invested in BIM or planned to during 2015.

James Smith,  product manager BIM, Majenta Solutions
James Smith, product manager BIM, Majenta Solutions.

With the 2016 deadline fast approaching, the reasons behind this surge in interest are clear. However, looking in a little more detail at the BIM4M2 figures, you discover that just 40% of respondents in total had actually made an investment – so for many manufacturers there is still a lot of work to do – and in our view, there is no time like the present to do it.

Manufacturers of building products need to start moving to BIM today if they want to ensure they can get their products specified on BIM-ready projects and make certain they don’t miss out on a potential future pipeline of lucrative contracts.

The truth is many manufacturers remain behind the curve and are reactive rather than proactive in their approach to BIM.  Often it takes the chance of pitching for a contract on a building project that’s based on BIM to spur these organisations into action.

Addressing the Challenges of Moving to BIM

BIM is closely associated with the sustainability of construction and has evolved in a market where costs are increasingly being scrutinised.

Solutions providers and systems integrators alike can play a key role here in educating the market to start thinking about the need for BIM immediately, rather than waiting until it becomes an urgent requirement. They can bring their skills and expertise to bear to deliver a combination of training, consultancy and tailored services.

These companies need to be able to work in partnership with their manufacturer clients and help them with issues from setting up standards to putting field gap analysis in place. Often the switch to BIM will also entail a switch from a predominantly 2D environment to one based on 3D functionality.

Manufacturers need to start moving to BIM today if they don’t want to miss out on a potential future pipeline of lucrative contracts.

Solutions providers will need to nurture their clients and guide them through a process that will be new to them. Typically also, manufacturers switching to BIM will need to put new support plans in place, including new approaches to storage, data management and file transfer.

They’ll need to ensure they are keeping data in a standard format that everyone can use. And they’ll need to use the latest data exchange tools for transferring 3D models rather than sending bulky files by email.

If they can do all of this, they will begin to be in a position where they can reap the many rewards that are likely to be forthcoming to those firms that have successfully transitioned to BIM.

The need to comply with a market environment where the provision of building product BIM information will ultimately become a requirement, must be paramount. However, by moving to BIM, they are also likely to achieve a broad range of other key benefits.

In a typical scenario, these may include the ability to achieve competitive differentiation of their products across the design, specification and construction processes, as well as the ability to drive increased maintenance and spare part sales.

Ultimately, while getting to grips with BIM is rapidly becoming a necessity to manufacturers of building products, by migrating to it, manufacturers will gain a broad range of business benefits as outlined above.

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At the same time also, by successfully integrating their own manufacturing technologies with BIM data to supply products and solutions for a sustainable built environment, manufacturers bring benefits to the broader construction sector from linking design, project and manufacturing information.

It’s a ‘win-win’ situation for all concerned.