This week’s workflow discussion is focused on the benefits Contractors can realize from using BIM (Building Information Modeling) software. This article was prepared by Nancy Clark Brown who works with Assemble Systems as a Product Manager.

Although BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology is nothing new to the construction industry, the BIM processes and activities that contribute to project success, are still evolving. When BIM first emerged, the emphasis was on more efficiency in generating 2D drawings particularly as the design changed. The models at that time, may or may not have been used by the construction team.  As the construction industry began to adopt models for coordination and clash detection, project teams started to realize the benefits of BIM.  Today, the industry has evolved to appreciate the numerous benefits of BIM thanks to the adoption of cloud based solutions that distribute consistent information to all stakeholders and help teams leverage models throughout the project life-cycle for activities such as model-based estimating and data conditioning to differentiate their construction services.

According to McGraw Hill Construction’s 2014 report, The Business Value of BIM for Construction in Major Global Markets SmartMarket Report, contractors in the world’s top construction markets report that BIM helps them to improve productivity, efficiency, quality and safety on their projects, as well as their own competitiveness. Particular benefits of implementing BIM, such as reduced errors and omissions, minimizing rework, and the ability to introduce new services are seen as significant advantages to contractors. In fact, 40% of the contractors with very high BIM engagement levels report that BIM significantly reduces the need to rework projects, which results in significant cost savings.

Some of the benefits that contractors are realizing include:

Bid Accuracy with Model-Based Estimating:  Estimators conventionally spend a ton of time doing manual takeoffs and quantifications in order to produce a final bid. Using building information modeling (BIM) technology, Estimators can further add validity to the numbers and identify any gaps and areas of risk that can be detrimental to winning a job. Estimators are freed up from the tedious task of manually counting objects, which is an error prone task. With BIM, the data is constantly reflected in the model in real-time and counts and quantities can be checked quickly..

Greater Efficiency in Change-Order Management: In construction, change is constant and the opportunities for projects to get off track are endless, so project managers must be constantly vigilant. Relying on the traditional, manual approach to change-order management doesn’t cut it. Today’s complex building environment demands much greater insight and control of change than ever before.  Tapping into the latest BIM-based technologies such as Assemble allows companies to easily compare multiple iterations of the model. Users can review the quantity variances to validate subcontractor change orders, highlight or isolate the components that have been added, deleted or changed.

Improved Subcontractor Coordination with Schedule Visualization:  A huge advantage that comes with BIM data integration in a construction project is the ability to visualize the expected progress and actual progress throughout the entire process. Communicating a project schedule visually is a useful tool for coordinating with subcontractors on the job site and even more useful when the schedule data is integrated with the quantities available in Assemble.

In the past, creating transparency and collaboration among all specialty contractors in a project was seen as a tall order. Today, however, BIM gives general contractors the ability to share model data with subcontractors. This visual representation of the data helps both contractors and subcontractors simplify and improve overall efficiency and coordination.

With the advent of cloud and mobile technologies, all stakeholders in the office or in the field are able to access data over the course of a project – further extending the value of BIM to a project. As BIM data becomes easier to access and even more ubiquitous during all stages of a build, contractors and subcontractors are more likely to increase their involvement and value in any given project where they have used BIM-related methodologies to their fullest potential.

This article was prepared by Nancy Clark Brown who works with Assemble Systems as a Product Manager.