The construction industry is going the digital way with many companies choosing to adopt BIM. They are realizing that by prototyping the building virtually before construction they can review the design more efficiently, obtain accuracy and evaluate alternatives with regards to design, cost, materials etc. However, there is a tendency to think that BIM is only beneficial to big companies with large projects. With small and medium sized companies forming a significant part of the construction sector this has hindered the widespread BIM adoption. The small construction companies must realize that even though BIM is currently more commonly utilized by large companies it doesn’t mean that it holds no value for them. They should start to leverage it as a tool to increase their productivity, reduce their cost and to outpace their competition.
Challenges faced by SMEs for BIM adoption
The first challenge faced is the variety of myths that are associated with BIM. As stated above it is wrongly assumed that BIM is for big companies that undertake large projects or that BIM is just a passing trend etc. The companies must properly educate themselves about BIM and this will allow them to gain an understanding on how it could it be beneficial for them. They must also realize that the upfront costs with BIM might be a little more due to hardware and software expenses, hiring new man power, training the existing staff etc. They must however take BIM as a long term investment and understand that the gains it will provide will significantly counter their investments. The company might also see some resistance from their staff. They might not be always be completely on board with the company’s decision of migrating to BIM. A lot of professionals who have been working on CAD for a period of time may also find it challenging to step out of their comfort zone. Here, the company must take into account that they may require sufficient time or provide them with proper encouragement and training.
Advantages of BIM for SME’s:
There are advantages associated with SME’s at all the fronts. Firstly communication becomes simpler both between the various stakeholders as well as with the clients. BIM makes it possible for multiple members to work on a single 3D model where any changes done are instantly updated and can be seen by everyone involved. This reduces the chance of miscommunication and ensures that everyone provides their input at the right time. More so, BIM also accelerates client communication by presenting technical information in clear terms. With 3D visualization the client can properly see the end design and there is no chance of any misunderstanding.
In a federated BIM model there needs to be coordination between Architectural, Structural and MEP BIM Services. Even a small project requires some level of coordination between these disciplines. Clash Detection makes it possible to detect any hard or soft clash at an inter or intra disciplinary level in the planning and designing stage ensuring precision onsite. BIM also provides better continuity by supporting the building throughout its lifecycle. It aims to provide crucial information throughout the planning, designing, construction and management of the building. It leads to optimal functioning and productivity at all these stages.
Finally, all the above points ultimately lead to two main advantages that any company irrespective of its size is looking for, monetary gains and customer satisfaction. Since, small projects have smaller margins even a tiny mistake could lead to a loss. Here, BIM could not just help avoid such mistakes thereby reducing rework, loss of time and resources. 5D BIM also makes it possible to gain cost estimation right from the onset as well as allows to see the impact of different designs on cost. Finally, with BIM the end product is on time and of superior quality ensuring customer satisfaction of the highest level.
How can SMEs get started with BIM?
The SMEs can start by weighing their purchase options and determining the level of investment they want to make. The investment should take into account current staff and the training they will require, whether experts will have to be hired, the hardware and software upgrades etc. They must also consider their current projects and take into account how adopting BIM will affect them. Their current speed and productivity might see a small fall until they become used to BIM. These allowances should be considered. They should also get all the team members on the same page, especially the people in higher position. They should remain convinced of the potentials of BIM as they can be quite influential. Finally, the SME’s should know that migrating to BIM Services isn’t an all in process, they can at the same time keep working on CAD and have a small team that goes ahead with BIM. Taking it one step at a time will ensure better results.