RIBA Insight menu
- Monthly Briefing
- Meet the team
Using BIM: what manufacturers need to know
The Government’s BIM agenda is driven by the need to deliver a low carbon future. The challenge has been laid down to public sector suppliers to reduce costs. In the words of Paul Morrell, the Government’s chief adviser on construction, “BIM is unstoppable”. Rick Osman explains what that actually means to you.
By 2016 what is known as ‘Level 2 BIM’ will be mandatory for government contracts. Level 2 BIM uses the tools of file-based collaboration and library management. Manufacturers need to know that their products need to be available for use with these tools before then.
Building Information... Modelling
The rising interest in BIM is essentially the result of government desire. And it is having an effect, galvanising the construction industry into actually doing something. BIM has been around for decades. For a long time, few could agree on what BIM actually stood for: ‘B’ was for ‘building’; ‘I’ was for ‘information’; but was the ‘M’ for ’model’, ’modelling’ or ‘management’? If nothing else, the Government’s intervention has driven agreement that BIM is ‘building information modelling’.
Decades ago we talked of ‘parametric modelling’ and ‘intelligent objects’, but they failed to take off among most of the industry because few understood what they were, and what they could deliver. A further barrier to widespread adoption was that users were expected to invest heavily, both through purchase and training, in one of several competing CAD systems. These were often mutually incompatible. Competition among rival 3D CAD platforms made it impossible to commit to BIM unless one chose a single, specific and expensive route. ‘BIM’ is not about a particular CAD program, but rather the integration of software programs and information from many data providers, including product manufacturers.
BIM has also fostered an understanding that different proprietary 3D software systems need to talk to one another in better ways, resulting in the growth of the Open BIM concept. The consequence of this is that manufacturers can be reassured that they don’t need to commit to a single proprietary file format to create their product information as BIM objects. Proprietary restraints are disappearing. It’s time to start investing in BIM.
Specification with a capital ‘I’
Manufacturers need to know that the most important element of BIM is the ‘I’ for ’information’. Information is what BIM is all about. For manufacturers this could be thought of as moving from specification clauses to data-rich specification objects. These might include: maintenance schedules, contractual and guarantee information, embodied carbon estimates, location requirements, travel distances, installation instructions, personnel training, quantities, costs, storage, delivery times and recycling, and disposal suggestions, as well as the geometric parameters associated with traditional CAD. Manufacturers’ information must help in cost estimating, scheduling, bidding and construction simulation, as well as remaining persuasive to specifiers.
D is for...?
Some of this stuff will be included in all those ‘D’s that are used when people talk about 5D BIM or similar: 2D and 3D are CAD, then 4D is ’time’, 5D ’cost’, 6D ’facilities management’, and maybe 7D will be ‘building control information’. Remember, BIM is being engaged to manage construction projects more effectively and reduce construction costs.
Want do you, as a manufacturer, need to do now? First, assemble all the information you have for your products, starting with the manufacturing drawings that will be the basis of your BIM object. In these still early days most manufacturers will choose to use a specialist BIM object creation company to create their own family of objects.
So what’s in it for you? Mostly, that specification switching will become more difficult. If your products and their associated information are incorporated into the building model at the outset they will be harder to change further along the line. And the earlier your products are available as BIM objects, the earlier they will be specified and used in buildings and the better known they’ll become.
- Download a FREE copy of The National BIM Report 2012 by registering or logging in to your My Account space at RIBA Insight.
- Register your interest in joining the National BIM Library.
For more information about RIBA Insight advertising and marketing solutions, please complete our short further information form.
Sign up now for our FREE Monthly Briefing, featuring exclusive marketing advice, useful reports and the latest industry news.