Meeting the government’s 2016 BIM adoption target will necessitate a cultural shift, according to Tony Ryan – and one sector must set the example
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It is all too easy for us to sit here today and pass judgement on businesses that failed to recognise the significance of the online revolution a decade ago and have since vanished.
But, while we must accept that hindsight often makes the right decisions appear clearer than they did at the time, we must also recognise when signs of an impending business revolution are present but ignored.
If we are not careful, BIM could be the next revolution that makes some in our industry’s reputations while wiping out the unprepared.
Despite the obvious benefits of widespread BIM use, some people are still hesitant to take advantage of the opportunities it provides. While BIM adoption has grown, it has yet to reach the critical mass that encourages even the most conservative firms to peek over the parapet.
The reasons for this are complex, but they are primarily related to the sense of uncertainty that still exists in the BIM community in practise. BIM is wonderful in theory, and some software providers are doing excellent work to build valuable platforms, but the entire system is dependent on third-party data, which is still sporadic at best. We need a culture shift, a decisive shift toward BIM, and I believe manufacturers will be critical in making this happen.
At first glance, BIM appears to be everyone’s responsibility. It is fundamentally a collaborative way of working that allows architects, specifiers, contractors, owners, occupiers, and even demolition companies to share vital information much more efficiently than in the past throughout the entire lifecycle of a building. In that case, you could argue that it is the responsibility of all of these groups to drive greater BIM adoption.
To some extent, this is correct. But, while each of these groups has reasons to use BIM, from cost savings to ensuring health and safety, increasing energy efficiency to shortening installation times, none of them has the power to drive it through from the start. Architects can demand BIM-friendly products, and building occupants can demand comprehensive ‘user guides,’ but neither group can guarantee that the files contain the level of information required to make it work most effectively. They generate demand, but who generates supply? Manufacturers bear this responsibility.
Kingspan Insulated Panels takes this responsibility seriously. We believe it is up to manufacturers to take the BIM-friendly leap and invest in order to support their customers. Our work with the partially government-funded 4BIM project, which is investigating BIM’s role across the supply chain, has highlighted the critical role manufacturers must play in advancing BIM use in building design, planning, construction, occupation, and even end-of-life decommissioning.
Manufacturer-created BIM files (such as those we’ve released for some of our most popular products) save time, reduce the risk of incorrect data, and aid in the reduction of clashes and errors during the design and installation phases. It is possible to create a one-stop shop for architects, designers, contractors, and end users when the files are created and used in conjunction with support from the relevant manufacturers’technical services departments.
We recognise that it is still early in the game. There are numerous competing software providers, not all of which are interoperable, and no one wants to invest in the BIM equivalent of Betamax, an expensive lesson in obsolescence. However, the only way to accelerate adoption and ensure that more collaborative software systems are developed and used is to assist BIM in reaching critical mass.
That means releasing BIM files for all of our core products in all of the major software formats, including AutodeskRevit, NemetschekVectorworks, Bentley AECOsim, GraphisoftArchiCAD, and IFC. And, while the initial cost of becoming BIM friendly may be prohibitive at this time, it will become a necessary business investment as more architects embrace the technology and demand comprehensive offerings from all suppliers. If you don’t use BIM, you’ll likely fall behind.
With our industry on the verge of such a fundamental shift, there is an opportunity for manufacturers, architects, and specifiers to collaborate to find better ways to make the most of BIM. That’s why, with one eye on the future, we’re looking into ways to provide parametric IFCs and’made-to-order’ BIM files to meet market demand as it evolves.
The demand for BIM exists, and the untapped potential is enormous. If we get BIM right (which we will with modest investment from manufacturers), architects and specifiers will never have to go back to the drawing board again. The onus is on us, as manufacturers, to drive the necessary cultural change to make BIM a no-brainer for everyone in the industry before 2016.