The BIM Level 2 deadline has been and gone, but in terms of the market, has anything changed and what discussions do we need to have? Training and BIM Manager at Legrand UK and Ireland, Matt Crunden, discusses the progress and challenges that are yet to come.
For all intents and purposes, Building Information Modelling (BIM) was designed to enable greater efficiencies in both the design and build phases of a construction project and then, for the full lifecycle of a building. Interestingly therefore, with so many benefits to gain, that there should be resistance to it within the market? Where much of the hesitance arrives is not in realising its potential, but a reluctance to embrace new workflows and working practices, as well as the potential costs for retraining.
The wider requirement to open up workflows and foster open collaboration, will also be key in the success of any development. Only through the use of structured data, in a common language, and the sharing of content and information, will BIM’s potential be reached.
For manufacturers, having information available in the required format is therefore key. Via these open, transparent and collaborative workflows, the benefits for the construction industry will be numerous, not least in terms of cost savings. Workflows will enable any bottlenecks to be highlighted, and therefore an early fix be put in place before costs and time escalates.
But it’s not just the construction industry that will benefit. For end users of a building, there are of course real gains to be made too, as developments designed using BIM will ensure products are specified in terms of efficiencies and the whole life cycle cost of the build, as opposed to materials alone. Buildings therefore will be designed with efficiency front of mind, not just based upon cost.
Helping people to realise BIM’s potential, is now one of the biggest challenges. It will require an open mind and, to an extent, a willingness to accept that the ways we have been working for the last 10-30 years may not be the best way to work today. For the electrical industry, this may mean that we need to work differently too.
As architects and designers grapple with BIM, it will firstly open up opportunities for those companies displaying information in the correct format. At Legrand UK & Ireland for example, BIM Revit files for a number of our cable management, under-desk power distribution and buscom trunking products are available to download from both our website and BIMstore.
However, specialist knowledge and experience of products first hand, will still be required during the specification stages - particularly for the M&E contractors. Furthermore, electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen will also still be required to complete the job. Post-completion there also remains the incredibly important role of educating the end user for the continued operation and maintenance of the premises.
Of course, as BIM projects develop our roles and responsibilities may change, but ultimately the concept of collaborative working can only be realised if all parties are willing to embrace it. In fact the likelihood is that BIM will actually help to enhance teamwork and the relationships between architects and contractors, rather than hinder it. With the benefits so clear, it is just a matter of time before we will all be singing from the same BIM sheet.