As the benefits of BIM become clear, why is it not yet ubiquitous?
Over the past decade BIM has become more and more common in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. However, there are many countries where it is yet to become popular, and even in regions where BIM is used, it is still not fully integrated. Recent research explores the numerous reasons for this, which can be loosely grouped into two categories. Here are some of the most common difficulties with implementing BIM.
Challenges of planning
Lack of knowledge and experience
In their analysis of 15 studies about the implementation of BIM in the AEC industry, Andrew Criminale and Sandeep Langar note that the top BIM implementation challenge is “time needed for hiring/training people to use BIM”. BIM software is complex and requires a lot of knowledge and practice to use correctly. Ensuring that employees are fluent enough in BIM software is one of the first and largest hurdles for any company looking to work with BIM.
As is to be expected, training or hiring BIM-literate employees is costly, but so is the software itself. For smaller- or mid-size companies, the financial cost of implementation can be significant.
Lack of compatibility
While one of the benefits of BIM is centralizing data, the large amount of BIM software available means that different organizations may use different software from different providers, and these may be incompatible. “The probability of stakeholders using different software is also high, given the project contextual, industry diversity, and stakeholder software preference”.
Challenges of execution
Move from print to digital
Despite many industries digitizing their whole workflow, the AEC industry still heavily relies on paper hard copies. Hard copy contracts will be referenced for specifications, and 2D plans are still the predominant format on construction sites. This creates a chicken and egg situation with BIM: on the one hand, BIM is needed to support the move to digital; on the other, while print is still dominant, BIM is harder to introduce.
The knowledge needed to manage building sites is not the same as the knowledge needed to plan and engineer a project.
Needs onsite vs visual rendering
At first glance, BIM is often presumed to be “the ability to show the client the final project by the use of animations and nice renderings”, as explained by Hans-Joachim Bargsädt. This is only part of the story, of course, but it does highlight that the role that BIM plays in the planning stages is very “different from what information construction companies need for their building processes”.
Given the potential of BIM to revolutionize the AEC industry, there is a huge market for creative solutions to the challenges of implementing BIM. BIMSearch, AMECTech’s first app, is one of these solutions. BIMSearch is a free app that makes BIM models accessible to everyone, with no need for extensive knowledge of expensive and complicated software. By making a BIM model easily searchable, everyone involved in the building project can quickly extract whatever information they need, without having to understand the whole process. In this way, BIMSearch bridges the gap between the needs of BIM in the office and onsite, it bypasses issues of compatibility as it collates data that can be transferred into whichever specific workflow you use, and it complements rather than hinders the specific knowledge of each employee.