Why BIM, why now

By Michael DeLacey

Building information modeling (BIM)’s ability to reduce project cost, shorten schedules, improve collective understanding of design intent, and improve overall project quality is making it a de facto standard for design and construction. 

The initial catalyst for the transition from a 2D computer aided design (CAD) process to BIM was the construction industry’s recognition that there was substantial savings to be had by coordinating construction in 3D vs. 2D. A Stanford University Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE) study identifies that this process is saving up to 10 percent of the contract value and reducing schedules by up to 7 percent.

Based on these results, many public and private sector organizations have developed BIM mandates and protocols, and are including them in design and construction contracts. 

The U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Veterans Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, higher education, healthcare and private developers are embracing BIM and contractually mandating its use. Municipalities, however, are lagging. State and local governments must begin leveraging BIM’s many advantages by adopting mandates.

Beyond the many benefits listed, there are macroeconomic factors that will drive BIM’s standardization and make it a necessity.

Easily Accessible with Wi-Fi

A key component of BIM is collaboration and sharing of information across disparate project teams. The fact that Wi-Fi is quickly becoming ubiquitous and smart devices including smartphones and Wi-Fi enabled tablets are used extensively allows project teams to access BIM information where and when they need it.

Market research company comScore reports that 42 percent of mobile phone traffic and 90 percent of tablet traffic travels by Wi-Fi. Access to Wi-Fi is widespread and expanding globally at a rapid pace. This combination leads to endless possibilities of when and where people will be able to access and work on BIM projects.

Cloud storage advantages

The fact that we now have easy access to Wi-Fi and convenient devices with which to collaborate is coupled with the pervasiveness of cloud storage and applications. We no longer need complex and expensive server and data access infrastructure to purchase, configure and maintain. Most BIM applications provide apps that allow for storage, distribution and interaction with the Model using the Cloud.

In addition, the nature of the Cloud and Cloud-based applications enhance BIM’s effectiveness, transparency, and efficiency for the entire project team.

Technology-oriented workforce

The Millennial generation, roughly defined as those born between 1980 and the year 2000, is the largest generation in U.S. history, outpacing even the Baby Boomers. This generation has not only embraced technology like smartphones, tablets and cloud-based applications, they fully expect that what they experience in their personal lives will translate into their professional lives. If they can access movies and music, on demand and on any device, why would they not be able to access their work information in the same way?

Organizations that have prepared for and embraced the expectations of this new workforce have accelerated the transition to BIM and extended its value.

BIM delivers transparency

Using the integrated visualization capabilities of BIM and leveraging the cloud distribution capabilities, organizations can now share more information to a wider audience and in a more meaningful way. This means that city and county transportation departments, transit agencies, housing authorities, school districts, and other municipal entities will develop stronger relationships with the public while maximizing the effectiveness of their capital programs.

It is time for local, county and state governments to adopt BIM and realize the benefits it will deliver.


Michael DeLacey is principal and CEO of AECO industry consultancy Microdesk. He has 28 years of experience in integrating technology into the planning, design, construction and operations and maintenance process specializing in building information modeling (BIM) and enterprise asset management (EAM).



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