Time for contractors to get up-to-speed with BIM
It is important for contractors to know what BIM means, as they have a key role in the construction supply chain. However a research indicates that only one in six firms are "fully ready". This is why, actions have been taken to help contractors get up-to-speed with BIM.
Increasing the understanding of the basics of BIM in the building services sector could enable a stronger supply chain, as Bill Wright, Head of Energy Solutions at the ECA outlines…
Research from the ECA last autumn, conducted with partners including CIBSE and BSRIA, found that just one in six firms in the building services sector were ‘fully ready’ to use BIM (Building Information Modelling) on construction projects.
In fact, one in four contractors said they were ‘not ready at all’ for BIM, despite a government-mandated deadline for its use on all major central government contracts from April this year.
The situation was even more of concern among small and medium-sized firms, with over half of SME respondents stating they were ‘not ready at all’ to use BIM. This raised the possibility of many SMEs being inadvertently frozen out of competing for a share of tens of billions of pounds of Whitehall-backed procurement.
BIM cannot work properly if the specialist supply chain is not ready, and readiness starts with an understanding of what the likely interactions with BIM projects will be.
When the results came out, the ECA pledged to undertake an action plan to help the building services sector get up-to-speed with the new requirements, which included:
* Releasing a ‘BIM Basics’ checklist, to help firms ensure they are prepared for BIM Level 2;
* Creating a ‘BIM jargon buster’, to help firms navigate through the maze of BIM terminology and acronyms and work out what BIM means;
* Developing case studies to broaden the understanding of what it takes to engage with a BIM project.
Along with CIBSE, the ECA has now made the BIM Basics checklist freely available for anyone in the industry to refer to. It contains recommendations for those who will have a relatively minor, perhaps lower tier role in BIM in four key areas – capability and skills, processes, software and hardware, and digital information.
However, not all contractors need the same level of ‘BIM capability’ – this depends on their actual role in projects. The ECA has also produced a more advanced checklist, covering a broader range of BIM capabilities, which in addition to the ‘BIM jargon buster’, is exclusively available to ECA members. While for many contractors there is a long way to go, we believe that these initial steps detailed in our checklist will help building engineering services firms to get up-to-speed with the use of BIM Level 2. Ultimately, the use of BIM has the potential to radically improve collaboration and efficiency within our sector.