As we enter a new decade, BIM (Building Information Modelling) might feel to some like merely the over-hyped remnant of the last, a promised digital revolution that never really changed the world the way it was meant to (see also: the Millennium Bug, Tamagotchi’s, Amstrad Emailers and MySpace).
However, 2020 could be the year that BIM finally takes it long-awaited turn in the spotlight! With the dual drivers of increasing construction demand and the need for digitisation, BIM could in fact be the hero of the hour.
What is BIM?
In short, BIM is a way to create an intelligent 3D model that simultaneously stores a vast array of information that can easily be drawn upon at every step of the building’s lifecycle.
Not only can the architect create highly detailed and intricate designs, but the data on each and every building product is easy to find and update for the engineers, construction professionals, facilities managers, owners, operators, refurbishers and maintainers of the site, from the day its first imagined until the day it’s demolished.
By visualising the data in this way, it’s much easier for the project’s stakeholders to see how their choice of materials will affect the long-term operations and functionality of a building.
The story so far
2016 was meant to be BIM’s year. The UK Government set a deadline for 4th April by which point all public sector construction projects should be designed using BIM. This was meant to be the light that set the fuse on the BIM firework.
As it turned out, the take up was not as decisive as the industry thought it was going to be, and rather than a dazzling rocket it felt to many like BIM was just a short-lived sparkler.
Time will tell if BIM ever becomes the star that we were promised, but it’s fair to say that it’s already made its mark and is going to be a topic of conversation for some time yet. If you’ve got more to say, get in touch!
What will 2020 mean for BIM?
Metaphors aside, the current outlook is that BIM sits somewhere between where the government wants it to be and where detractors think it is. In fact, the National BIM Report 2019 states awareness and adoption has grown from “10% in 2011 to around 70% in 2019”, however it admits “the latest survey shows some stagnation in adoption.”
While enthusiasm may not be at a fever pitch, many construction product manufacturers have felt the need to make sure they have a fully stocked BIM library. By having their products readily available as downloadable BIM objects, a manufacturer avoids being the one left off the all-critical specification list for those projects that have finally embraced BIM.
This approach may well be the one that ultimately pays off, as not only is more of the construction industry now using BIM than not, but more and more pressure is being placed on architects and developers to utilise smarter, digital methodologies in order to meet a sharply rising workload.
BIM helps to cut costs and timescales by streamlining the complexities of large-scale construction. It does this by enabling the quick and easy sharing of large quantities of data between large numbers of people, which in today’s fast-paced digital workplaces is an ideal way to enhance collaboration while reducing aggravating errors and duplication.
With growing populations requiring housing, and forecasts predicting growth for multiple sectors, including education, health and civil engineering, it’s possible BIM will see a renewed uptake in popularity. Thanks to its interconnected, holistic nature it could be the best way to increase productivity in the construction industry – which will need to happen if all the work that’s coming the industry’s way is going to get done!