Building Information Modeling (BIM) is now a common technology leveraged by the AEC community to increase efficiency and decrease the cost of construction. Construction is the largest industry in the world. Some attributes of the industry have served as barriers to the progress of the industry and the adoption of BIM. The construction industry is volatile and the demand for construction is cyclical. Construction projects are complex and manual labor is required. Extensive regulations apply to many aspects of construction. Custom requirements in construction limit the ability to standardize, and almost every project encounters its own set of challenges and barriers to overcome.
The features of the industry have meant that construction productivity has remained flat overall since the mid-90s, whereas productivity in manufacturing has nearly doubled (McKinsey, 2015). Productivity is not uniform across the construction industry as larger organizations that engage in heavy construction have higher productivity than smaller firms and specialized trades (McKinsey Global Institute, 2017).
Since the construction process is project-based, the use of digital tools that work throughout the process is limited. Indeed, digitalization in construction is lower than in other industries (McKinsey, 2020). Digital tools will be essential in any effort to improve productivity.
Patterns in Barriers to BIM Implementation
We have reached a time now when BIM is commonly used in projects, and it is clear that lacking BIM can be a detriment to manufacturers who want their products used in BIM projects. While BIM projects are common, some in the AEC community have yet to make the shift to BIM. Human factors including skill levels, attitudes, and training contribute to the rate of BIM adoption. In McGraw-Hill’s 2008 industry survey, the greatest barriers they identified to BIM adoption were costs and training issues.
Since 2008, training issues have continued to be problematic. Potential BIM users lack user-friendly online training options and many have a limited grasp of the benefits of BIM. BIM benefits are realized in the long term, however, in the short term, the initial stages require investment, training, tools, software, and organizational adjustments. These requirements create time pressure that can be confounded by the time restraints already imposed on construction projects.
Siebelink et al., (2021) reviewed barriers to BIM implementation in relation to the BIM maturity of firms. Firms with low BIM maturity had insufficient knowledge, a lack of technological means, a lack of support, and interoperability problems with other software. Firms with low BIM maturity are dependent on the BIM maturity of supply chain partners. In contrast, those with high BIM maturity work closely with the supply chain to implement and benefit from BIM. Some companies are on the leading edge of BIM adoption and have adapted their operations accordingly. This can influence the low BIM maturity companies that have been reluctant to change (Martin et al., 2019).
Technical and practical issues also can serve as a barrier to BIM adoption. BIM software limits BIM implementation as there does not yet exist a software package that provides the ideal BIM solution for all potential collaborators on a construction project. Practical issues limit the exchange of data with external parties on a construction project. Security precautions limit how data is exchanged, and internet connectivity on job sites can be problematic. Limited interoperability is an ongoing issue that hampers BIM implementation (Siebelink et al., 2021).
BIM Adoption and Design Firm Management
Leadership plays an important role in BIM implementation. While resistance to changing to BIM is found across all organizational levels, management has a large impact on BIM adoption. Traditional management and organizational structures have been found to conflict with BIM performance and adoption (Won et al., 2013). A dearth of evidence about the quantifiable benefits of BIM adds to the hesitation of managers to implement robust BIM programs. Top management in firms can increase BIM usage with clear targets and priorities, and middle-management in design and contracting firms are key to facilitating the transition to BIM. (Siebelink et al., 2021). The main critical success factors for BIM implementation are an awareness of the technological benefits, organizational readiness (Tan et al., 2022), being open to collaboration and sharing of information with those on a project, along with a skilled BIM team, and organizational support and investment.
While BIM adoption across the construction industry has moved slower than some anticipated in the 2000s, design firms are requiring BIM for their projects. In 2021 BuildingSMART survey results revealed over half of the respondents use BIM for 76-100% of their projects. This underscores the need for manufacturers to consider making BIM available for their products and facilitate the incorporation of their products into projects by presenting an easy path forward for BIM users.
Building Product Manufacturer BIM
Manufacturers that provide BIM to the design community do not simply provide a 3D model. They provide data about their product or system. A quality usable BIM model benefits manufacturers by making it easier to specify their products in a BIM project. The information in their product BIM may benefit the project during installation, and may even serve as information on building maintenance or closeout activities. Manufacturers with BIM demonstrate their intent to progress with the construction industry.
To ensure the design community is informed and educated about manufacturer-provided BIM, manufacturers should make their BIM readily available to the design community. CADdetails is set up to promote manufacturer BIM to architects, engineers, and designers that are looking for products to specify.
If you are a landscape or building product manufacturer that does not yet have BIM, talk to us about our BIM development services. If you have BIM already, talk to us about making your BIM available to our over 625,000 registered architects, engineers, contractors, and other design industry professionals.