Building information modeling (BIM) has established itself to be a powerful process for design and construction teams over the last 20 years. Improving coordination and clash detection, reducing risk, and enhancing scheduling and sequencing are some of the more well-known benefits of BIM.
However, the industry’s application of BIM throughout the construction lifecycle is still relatively fragmented. While BIM is standard in design, it’s not being fully utilized in preconstruction, site construction, and operations and maintenance.
As more technology enters the market and new use cases for BIM are being discovered, the potential of getting more out of models in the full construction lifecycle grows daily. But what exactly does the future of BIM look like and where can architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals benefit the most?
However, according to Jeremy Thibodeau, AMER Leader, Construction Customer Success for Autodesk, it’s easy to get distracted by some of the flashy possibilities for BIM technology.
“A lot of times when people are looking at the technology, they get wrapped around the axle based on the more cutting-edge sides of it,” he says. He explains that while the future of BIM is exciting, it’s for a much more practical reason than many may first think:
“If you boil it down to its essence, BIM is a communication tool. The future of BIM involves using the model at all stages to improve collaboration.”
Ultimately, the future of BIM is about creating connection. Often referred to as “Connected BIM,” it involves leveraging more out of the end to end use of models through cloud technology. That means, utilizing a connected model-based process not only in design but throughout preconstruction, in the field during construction, during closeout, and even through operations and maintenance.
We recently spoke with Jeremy to learn more about how the specific areas of the construction lifecycle where building information modeling is underused and how teams can overcome common hurdles to build a more connected future for BIM. You can read our interview, below. But first, take a look at our infographic where we highlight the current state of BIM and where opportunities lie in the near future.
New in Autodesk Construction Cloud: Connect the Office and Field with New Model Accessibility on Mobile
Where does the construction industry stand today with its use of BIM? To illustrate the current state and future of BIM, check out our infographic. You can also view, share, and download the full-size version here.
I started on the architecture side of the business. After graduate school, I joined a firm called TRO Jung|Brannen that was trying to make the transition from a 2D-based workflow a 3D-based workflow. At a high level in those early years, the primary goal was to create the same set of documents, coordinate sets more efficiently, but also have some 3D imagery–there wasn’t necessarily a lot of information utilized in those early stages.
The most significant change in the industry that I’ve seen over the past 10 to 12 years is that people have moved past just geometry and have started to focus more heavily on the information aspect of the overall process to increase efficiency during the complete project lifecycle. Obviously, that was always the intent, but it is nice to see the industry moving in that direction.
In the construction lifecycle, the majority of the use today, and even with the more advanced companies, is in trade coordination or BIM coordination. BIM is most underutilized in the turnover and handover phase at the moment. Only a few select contractors are beginning to create final BIM enhanced FM deliverables to be used in maintenance and operations.
Secondly, I would say that the use of BIM in the preconstruction has huge growth potential in terms of quantities, takeoffs, and subcontractor buyout.
It involves getting the right people in the room to understand the goals that you’re trying to achieve. When I was at Skanska working on Boston College, one of our focuses was bringing the capital department and the operations/facilities department into one meeting. It allowed them to realize how BIM was going to be used after the project is complete. You don’t aggregate and create all of this content for the sake of creating it or because it is “cool.” It needs to focus on the value facilities will gain after the turnover occurs.
The biggest opportunity to get more information into the model comes down to the QA/QC and the commissioning process. It’s focused less on the tool and more on the process. For instance, if you’re utilizing a 2D workflow during the initial phases and you’re documenting the information either through checklists, issues, etc., the migration of that data will naturally occur. Better documentation during those critical phases of a construction process will provide better information to migrate over into the turnover. There’s so much information that is captured during QA/QC and commissioning and having it easily transferred to the next phase of the project will be invaluable.
The thing I’m most excited about is the end to end use of the model. As I mentioned, there are major stages of construction where BIM is underutilized. A lot of times when people are looking at the technology, they get wrapped around the axle based on the more cutting-edge sides of it rather than focusing on the more pragmatic aspects.
If you boil it down to its essence, BIM is a communication tool. The future of BIM involves using the model at all stages to improve collaboration. I think this is where the industry as a whole gains the most value out of it. As long as you’re using that communication tool throughout the entire project lifecycle, the value and return on that investment are going to be huge.
The future of BIM is right around the corner. Autodesk Construction Cloud is making BIM more accessible than ever. With new model viewing capabilities on mobile and the web, better connect the office, trailer, and field across the project lifecycle.
Interested in learning more about the solutions enabling a more connected future for BIM? Get in touch.