28 September 2015

The introduction of BIM to the UK construction industry has seen many innovations, and adoption has certainly accelerated since the government mandate in 2011, with large numbers taking full advantage of the benefits which can be gained from improved processes and working in a collaborative environment.  

There have also been innovations among manufacturers. However, the views on creation of manufacturer-specific BIM objects and their value to architects have been mixed.  

BIM4M2 (BIM for manufacturers and manufacturing), a working group of manufacturers conducted a survey in 2014, which provided encouraging data that manufacturers are engaging with BIM. This echoes similar findings from the NBS National BIM Survey, which showed that construction professionals had used BIM on at least one project during the year, and 92% of respondents said they expect to use BIM in the next three years, which also suggested positive growth of BIM use in the UK.

A challenge from a manufacturer’s perspective is that the playing field is not even.

With a number of tools available offering standards for what’s included in BIM objects, the message can be confusing. As a manufacturer providing BIM objects, we have learnt lessons which have helped us understand the evolution of BIM:

BIM expectations

From the manufacturer’s perspective, expectations of what should be provided vary from user to user, this can be affected by what sector products are distributed into and also by what software is being used by the project team.

Housebuilders provide an example of how different sectors are implementing BIM. With the countdown towards level 2 BIM in the UK driven largely by the government mandate on centrally funded projects, the house building sector has been slower with its uptake of BIM, although the sector is now considering its benefits. This could have been considered a barrier to BIM adoption amongst manufacturers who supply mainly to this sector. 

As a way of understanding exposure to the various sectors and to support those either considering BIM or those who have recently started out on their BIM journey, the BIM4M2 group has created a set of resources called BIM4M2 Curve.  One of these helps manufacturers determine the likely impact of BIM on their business.  

If we go further afield to consider the varying uses beyond the UK; BIM adoption throughout Europe has been significant, with varying approaches to BIM implementation.  For instance, the Scandinavian market is very well advanced with BIM adoption, and welcomes the modelling benefits from virtual building, using higher levels of 3D detail compared to the UK, favouring the improved management of information. 


The levels of education also vary throughout the industry. Despite positive results from surveys indicating BIM awareness has risen; this is not universal. Increasing the level of understanding of BIM throughout the construction industry is needed. 

There are some avid users who recognise the added value BIM can offer, but there are also many architects yet to use BIM for a number of reasons, so ensuring equal knowledge about the topic is a good starting point.

BIM objects, useful?

Many manufacturers are yet to produce BIM objects, and if the decision is made to invest in development, it’s important they understand not just what their customers want but the whole supply chain in their sector. 


The quality and accuracy of the structured data provided for BIM is vitally important. This is where a standardised approach would help ensure usefulness across the board. To aid this, BIM4M2 are developing PDTs (product data templates) to feed into the development of a standardised structure moving forward.

BIM continues to evolve, bringing together the visual and information elements to develop a standardised structure to be truly helpful to the supply chain.

Marley Eternit’s BIM Space is free and once registered, all users are given instant access to our full range of BIM objects. We also have a suite of BIM tutorial videos on our Youtube channel.

What is your experience of using BIM objects? Leave your comment here.

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