Change is constant. Over the past five years, the construction sector has embarked on a period of rapid change as it transforms into a truly digital industry, so writes Ian Chapman, Director of the NBS National BIM Library.
The UK Government BIM mandate has driven this change, supported by the creation of standards, guides and tools (bim-level2.org ). However, with change comes a series of stages that businesses experience. The first stage is often denial, closely followed by resistance, then acceptance where opportunities are explored. The final phase is commitment and adoption – where the benefits of change can be realised. When it comes to BIM, what stage are construction product manufacturers at? Where would you place your business?
From 4 April this year, all centrally procured projects need to achieve BIM Level 2. But BIM Level 2 is just a starting point on the journey of digitisation.
Over the past few years many manufacturers have been in denial about the changes BIM will bring. Denial fades in the face of an increasingly collaborative industry in which shared, standardised information is the backbone of a digitised, BIM practicing, sector. There is a wealth of information on BIM; the early adopters have already answered many questions. Learn from their experience and understand the pitfalls and benefits.
Resistance to change is a natural reaction, but it is important to consider the reasons behind this. Is the resistance due to a lack of awareness of the need to change or a lack of knowledge?
Resistance to change can be costly, allowing more agile challengers time to enter your market. Businesses that stick with the status quo have a risky future. Combat resistance through assessing the case for change. Create a BIM strategy that includes clear timescales and defines why BIM is important to your business. Communication throughout your organisation will help your business move to the options and adoption stages. If a business becomes stuck in the resistance phase, its long-term success is threatened.
When it comes to BIM, there are many options for construction product manufacturers to explore. Firstly look at your own product data. Most manufacturers already have product data in an electronic form; this is a big step, already taken, towards becoming BIM ready. For BIM Level 2 that information needs to be held in a structured format. By providing your product information in a ‘product data sheet’ you make your data significantly more attractive to those working with BIM. By placing your product information into a product data sheet you give your existing data a new lease of life.
This structured information offers designers and contractors an easier, more transparent means of product discovery, allowing product comparison and selection. Creating product data sheets is easy – you already have the product knowledge and the product data, so combine this with one of the 5,000 product data templates available through the NBS BIM Toolkit and you have a product data sheet.
Designers spend a lot of time drawing and specifying, so consider options that can help you to embed your product data into their workflows. BIM objects provide manufacturers with the opportunity for your product(s) to be used as part of the building design. A BIM object is a combination of your product geometry and product data, and the demand for BIM objects is high; 71% of survey respondents need manufacturers to provide them.
Since the launch of the freely availably NBS BIM Object Standard in September 2014, it has become an invaluable tool to help manufacturers create BIM objects that are suitable for today’s market. Anyone considering creating BIM objects themselves will find the online version with its extensive guidance indispensable. Not all products are contained within the project design model, so explore options that place your product data into specification systems such as NBS too.
Consider the options that are the most appropriate for your business. Whichever option you choose, make sure you get the most out of your digital product information. Don’t hide it away, make sure it is easily found, and keep it up to date. This will be the foundation of successful BIM adoption in your business and a significant step towards seeing BIM deliver clear results for your business.
When it comes to BIM the direction of travel is clear. BIM is becoming the norm for design, construction and maintenance. With the early success of centrally funded projects, real savings are evident. Change is the one thing you can count on and that’s a good thing. So don’t get stuck by change, use it for competitive advantage.
This article features in the National BIM Report for Manufacturers 2016. You can download your full, free copy of the report (.pdf, 3.19Mb) which includes comprehensive analysis of this years' findings alongside specialist insight and case studies focussed on real-world BIM implementation. Articles from the report also feature on theNBS.com.