18 November 2015

Originally led by innovators and early adopters, BIM is now being used in the mainstream market by architects, main contractors, sub-contractors and manufacturers alike.  This is a marked difference to 2010 when an NBS survey reported that just 15% of the design community were engaging in BIM.  Now awareness of BIM is almost universal and around 50% of those surveyed are using it on construction projects.

As part of its 2025 Construction Strategy, the Government has set itself a target of a 33% reduction in the initial cost of construction and the whole-life costs of built assets, as well as a 50% reduction in the overall build time for both new-build and refurbishment projects.  BIM is the main delivery mechanism for these savings. 

In fact, BIM is said to have saved the Government £1.7 billion on major projects in just one year.  A frequently cited example is that of the construction of Cookham Wood Young Offenders’ Institution which achieved a 20% cost saving through the use of BIM.

However, there are also very real benefits for BIM practitioners themselves. If successfully implemented, BIM will help an organisation strip waste from its processes.  Building the asset virtually means earlier identification of clashes, reduced errors, less re-work and improved productivity.

Indeed, the latest NBS survey shows that 59% of companies in the construction sector who have embraced the technology have seen cost efficiencies as a result, 56% have seen an improvement in client outcomes, 51% an increase in speed of delivery and 48% have experienced an increase in profitability.

Already being used on large private design and build projects, the next natural step after the 2016 deadline is for BIM to trickle down into other public and private sector projects.  This is where there is a real competitive advantage for architects and contractors who have developed BIM capability and expertise.  Those who have to be compliant for central Government projects can then use this experience to win work in the local government and private sectors.

It is expected that there will be rapid adoption of BIM in the coming years and there will be a significant market opportunity for architectural, engineering and construction companies who can demonstrate the cost and time saving advantages of BIM to clients.  They will also be developing a strong exportable offering, opening up global opportunities as the UK is seen as a world leader in BIM.

There has been some concern expressed that all of these processes and workflows could hinder creativity but actually, if the purpose of BIM is to introduce more collaborative ways of working, then this could actually help rather than hinder the design process. 

One example of this is Build New York Live, a recent collaborative design competition where teams of architects, engineers and landscape designers had just 48 hours to re-design a neighbourhood in New York.  This is where BIM comes into its own, allowing geographically dispersed teams to collaborate and complete the design competition in time.

While BIM offers exciting new opportunities for collaborative design, having ready access to the right building components is key to making the modelling process quicker and easier for design teams.  Manufacturer-specific BIM components add significant value, not only saving time but giving designers quicker understanding about how the product works, certainty of compatibility and sustainability credentials.  

At Marley Eternit, we were one of the first manufacturers to develop our own free online BIM Space where architects, specifiers and contractors can quickly download BIM components for our fibre cement roof slates, clay plain tiles and EQUITONE and Cedral facades.   

There is now an expectation that BIM will become standard in the design process, with 92% of those surveyed by NBS expecting to use it within the next three years.  So whether architect, contractor or manufacturer, companies who don’t engage with BIM will be at a serious disadvantage when it comes to winning future work. However, those who develop the skills in this area will be in pole position to capitalise on the growing demand for BIM expertise.

For more information about the benefits BIM can bring to your business, visit http://www.ciria.com/bimcube

Tell us what you think, are you using BIM yet? If so, how has it given your business a competitive advantage? 

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