I got an in-depth questionnaire email and was really impressed by a student at KU who asked the following questions about BIM, who showed an understanding of BIM and was asking some great questions... my answers were as follows:
Research regarding BIM in the Construction Industry:
Please answer the following questions to the best of your knowledge. Thank you for your help and time.
Do you see more companies (construction and/or engineering) integrating BIM into their work? Why?
There are definitely more companies beginning to adopt and integrate BIM technology in their businesses. The basic reasoning behind this shift is a fundamental understanding that BIM will save them time, money and be more marketable to clients. There also is a large shift in thinking within the construction industry, specifically towards being able to communicate more effectively, which ultimately saves costly changes due to inaccurate information.
How does BIM help McCownGordon in: 1) Design 2) Estimating 3) Construction 4) Post Construction?
1. In the design phase we use it a couple of ways. The first is that we use the model to create business development models. These models are what we use to visually quantify the cost of the project to an owner. So when we submit a budget we also submit a 3D representation of the estimate. We also begin to run our clash detection reporting and issue those reports at key meeting dates in tandem with resolution responsibilities.
1-2. I think that design and estimating dovetail into the other. However, in the estimating phase of the process we begin in the schematic design phase and begin tying or “mapping” model components to our estimate. This begins to streamline the process for us when we receive a new model, we can utilize that same mapping to update our sf and assembly costs. Also with a BIM model we have the ability to visually quantify in a 3D environment, the components we have or have not assigned costs to, which boils down to more accurate estimating.
3. Currently we are using the BIM model in the field as a visual communication tool. However, we are currently working with a software company to move into a mode of in field digital RFI’s complete with model markup. In addition to RFI and document management, we use the model to produce sequencing videos, staging plans and keep a single model current and accurate throughout the construction process so as CO’s and field changes occur we are keeping the model accurate.
Post Construction, we have really seen a value to the owner in a 3D BIM as-built of their new facility. Facility Managers are beginning to understand the value of a single source of information. Depending on the project we will digitally store the OandM Manual in the BIM as well.
What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of using BIM verses the Traditional Methods, in estimating and bidding?
Biggest advantages of using BIM is in estimating and the biggest disadvantage is in bidding. In a way, that’ really the best answer for this question. BIM is not actually a piece of software you can buy, it’s a process. And as a process it’s a fundamental restructuring of the way the construction process currently takes place. True BIM integration engages all team members early on in the project so that the model/documentation is more coordinated. Thus estimates are more accurate because of the time we get to make them more accurate, contingencies come down and everyone has project buy in.
In a bidding situation, BIM really becomes a quantity verification tool and much less of a resource to the team.
Where do you see BIM heading in the future of the construction industry?
Great Question! I can tell you that currently there is software being developed that will start to automate a BIM’s LEED reporting instantly, that “widgets” or “plug-ins” are going to be more and more common (Especially in Revit software) and that overall we are going to see a huge need in the field of Virtual Construction professionals. I have had this talk with some of the older pros in the industry and it always boils down to the question, “Is the way you are practicing your work now the most efficient and most profitable way possible?” I think that until that answer becomes yes BIM will continue to lead a revolution in the industry, and hey let’s face it there are only so many ways you can draw a line right?!
How do you think BIM can be improved for the future?
BIM will eventually become open source. The reasons I say this are that currently we need approximately 10 different pieces of software to make a true BIM integration work. Teamed with the costs of this software, you never want to underestimate the power of entrepreneurs. I think eventually everyone will start to see the disadvantage of holding proprietary UI’s and software and that more companies will still see the potential to collaborate themselves and create a single software solution. Part of this is being done in Japan now and hopefully it isn’t too much longer before a similar solution is available in the States.