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How do you determine the ROI on BIM?

The construction industry has lagged behind all other industries in technology adoption and productivity; many well documented studies prove this. Much of it is due to a lack of enterprise software adoption or subsequent integration and automation of construction processes. Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the construction industry today is the equivalent of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) about 30 years ago in discrete manufacturing industries, and is revolutionizing it in the same way. There are many benefits to BIM that people may be overlooking.

Improving Stakeholder Engagement: Facility tenants and stakeholders oftentimes don’t know how to read and coordinate 2D drawings created by the design team, contractor and equipment manufacturers. During the design review process, they may inadvertently say “Yes, that’s what we’re looking for” without truly being able to visualize and interpret what they are saying yes to. When design teams leverage 3D models and apply game-like realistic qualities like lighting, airflow, texturing, along with furniture and equipment placement, they are drastically improving the experience for stakeholders to verify their needs are being met. This minimizes late scope changes or expensive rework post construction due to miscommunicated requirements.

Reducing Construction Costs and Errors: Many design firms, contractors and subcontractors already leverage BIM technology today to improve productivity and reduce costs for themselves, and for the owners, they realize reduced risk in schedule delays due to errors. For example, structural steel sub-contractors create detailed models that represent exactly what will be fabricated and erected in the field. They automatically extract digital information directly from the model into computer controlled equipment in their fabrication facilities. This not only saves time and reduces cost, but also minimizes the risk of fabrication errors and fit-up issues in the field often caused by human transfer of data from 2D printed drawings.

General Contractors take this a step further and combine design and detailed models from different contractors (MEP, Structural, Envelope) to coordinate key interface points between trades. Rather than having to overlay multiple sets of 2D CAD drawings to try and identify problems, they can automatically find clashes and mismatches in a digital 3D model. The contractor can catch these issues before fabrication and construction begins to prevent rework and costly field delays which would put them at risk in delivering the project on time for the owner.

Reducing Risk in Facility Operations: Let’s say a new tenant wants to repurpose a room, or there is an interior water leak that the maintenance crew is trying to source. Rather than having to do costly extensive intrusive exploration work of where utilities are located, or again coordinating different 2D drawings, the facility operations manager can open the 3D model and see exactly where MEP is routed through walls and ceilings. They can also show the maintenance crew exactly where they are supposed to go in the building to make the fix. Some owners add maintenance information to objects in the model ranging from HVAC equipment to light bulbs. Then on a regular basis, notifications are shown in 3D that say which items need to have maintenance tasks assigned to them and tell the team exactly where they need to go. This not only makes the operations crew more productive, but it reduces the cost and impacts that things like a prolonged water leak, or equipment outage can bring. In the near future, mixed reality headset devices like the Microsoft HoloLens will marry digital BIM data with actual conditions in the field to show maintenance crews in the real world exactly what they need to focus on.

How have you incorporated BIM into your projects? We would love to hear from you!