The construction industry plays a significant role in the United States. The sector is responsible for providing employment to more than 680,000 people and constructs over $1.3 trillion worth of structures each year.
With more and more people migrating to the cities, it is expected that the construction industry will be faced with a huge task of creating over 2.3 million new homes every year from 2018 to 2050.
It is not possible to meet this rising demand with the more traditional methods of construction and it is perhaps fortunate that today the construction industry can use the Building Information Technology to increase their speed, efficiency and the profit margins.
Building Information Modelling can be defined as an intelligent, information rich 3D modelling process that gives the architects, engineers and construction professionals all the tools to move towards a collaborative, automated and more successful way of construction.
In this article we will look at the status of BIM adoption in US and look at how the construction sector could potentially benefit from BIM adoption.
BIM in USA
Like in a lot of things USA was the pioneer in adopting BIM technology as early as in 1970. According to a recent study 49 percent of the surveyed builders stated that they use BIM in their companies for varied project sizes and requirements.
Though Wisconsin has been the first state in US to make BIM mandatory for public projects equal to or above the total budget of $5 million, there has been no mandate from the US government regarding the adoption of BIM.
Looking at UK which has radically adopted BIM strategy, a question does form that what is keeping US behind in making BIM compulsory for at least certain mega projects.
Barriers faced in making BIM a mandate in US:
There are a few reasons why US has not followed the path of developed nations like UK in making BIM compulsory. The first is that in US there is no single agency in the federal government that is in the position to make BIM a mandatory requirement for all public projects.
Secondly still a lot of construction companies believe that BIM is an expensive technology and are more hesitant to undertake such heavy investment.
However, there is a strong case for BIM, which in large projects always ends up being cost effective. Below we look at why BIM needs to be more widely adopted in the US.
Advantages of BIM for the construction sector:
There are a host of benefits that the construction companies could gain out of adopting BIM in the preconstruction phase.
- Preconstruction project visualization: BIM is basically a virtual construction of the whole building. By planning and visualizing the entire project before the shovel hits the ground it allows the architects and engineers the freedom to try different designs. It also allows them to communicate their vision with the client more effectively. Moreover, having 3D visualization from the start makes it possible to make any design alterations and spot mistakes without waste of time, resources and money.
- Enhanced Collaboration: Digital BIM allows for a level sharing and collaborating that paper drawing sets don’t allow. With cloud-based tools like Autodesk’s BIM 360, Revit Server, BIM collaboration can take place across all disciplines irrespective of the physical location. Any changes made in the BIM model are automatically updated and reflected to all the stakeholders involved in the project. Having access to up-to-date project information at any time facilitates easy decision making and reduces any errors that could arise out of miscommunication.
- Improved Coordination: Clash Detection helps to identify, inspect and report any interference in a project model. It could be a hard clash arising when two objects occupy the same place or it could be a soft clash occurring when any object is not given the spatial tolerance it requires. BIM Coordination Services are used to detect any MEP, internal, or external clashes in the building design. Timely clash detection mitigates risk and reduces onsite waste of time, resources and money.
- Extract 2D Drawings: Once the model is completed and it is determined that there are no clashes in the design it is possible to extract 2D drawing for onsite construction. Not only are these drawings precise and basically ensure that onsite construction will go smoothly, they are also easy to modify. Also, any changes that are made in the 3D BIM model are automatically reflected in all the 2D drawings like site plan, floor plans,elevations etc. Without BIM it would be a long and arduous process to manually update each plan whenever any change is made in the building design.
- The dimensions of BIM: BIM is also constantly updating itself. On top of 3D there are other dimensions of BIM which all add value to the construction process. 4D BIM bring time and scheduling to the mix ensuring that there are basically no workflow clashes onsite. 5D BIM is with regards to cost estimation and quantity take-offs wherein the user is able to extract accurate and constantly updates cost data from the model. 6D BIM is focused on the sustainability of an asset and finally 7D BIM is with regards to Facility Management.
US construction sector is already using BIM but looking at the number of advantages the AEC firms can gain out of BIM, its use needs to be more widespread.
Though initial concerns about money might be there, in long run during the onsite construction, BIM actually ends up saving money.
As for apprehensions about lack of skilled labour required for BIM adoption there are various companies which offer specialized BIM Services at cost effec tive prices.