Using BIM Technology in Small Construction Firms

 Small construction companies who want to stay in business are being forced to adopt BIM technology or risk losing their share of construction jobs, especially those projects that are federally funded.  The big challenge for small businesses is to overcome their lack of know-how when it comes to the tools, techniques, and technology of BIM.

Why is BIM Technology so Important?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is now considered to be mainstream technology in the United States, having gone from 17% usage in 2007 to 71% usage in 2012, according to one McGraw Hill survey.   Indeed, mandates for BIM usage are becoming common across the entire globe, particularly in federally funded projects.  For instance, the UK is now recognized as one of the global leaders in building information modeling, with government mandates there also calling for BIM requirements in all government-funded projects.

As the construction companies in both the UK and the US have discovered, BIM is assisting construction companies to win work not only at home but also in the international marketplace.  BIM is thought to bring about at least a 20% savings in construction projects from BIM, and as contractors and clients get more familiar with the technology and savings from running the buildings are realised it is expected that BIM will be used for the full life cycle of the building rather than just the design and construction.

A 20% cost savings can be a huge boon for small construction companies and their clients, potentially resulting in more building projects.  One reason for the cost savings is that a properly managed BIM job has almost no reworking of the design once construction begins.  This is because all of the potential problems have been worked out in the virtualized BIM model rather than in real-time on site.

How Can Small Construction Get Started with BIM?

Change in any company can be a challenge.  So, our first rule is “Keep it simple.”  This may sound contradictory considering the complexity of BIM technology.  But, what we’re talking about is the process of change.  It doesn’t have to be complicated if you plan ahead for the integration of BIM.

One area to be aware of is COBie.

What is COBie?

Construction Operations Building information exchange is a means of sharing, predominantly non-graphical, data about a facility. It is a data format for the publication of a subset of information about a building.  It is closely associated with BIM. COBie helps capture and record important project data at the point of origin, including equipment lists, product data sheets, warranties, spare parts lists, and preventive maintenance schedules. This information is essential to support operations, maintenance, and asset management once the built asset is in service.

In December 2011, it was approved by the US National Institute of Building Sciences as part of its National Building Information Model (NBIMS-US) standard.

COBie has been incorporated into most BIM software for planning, design, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance, and asset management, and may take several approved formats.   The COBie standard was developed in America and is being adapted for use in other countries, notably the UK.   It is a non-proprietary format based on a spreadsheet so it can be managed by organizations of any size at any level of IT capability and can be linked to other systems and software.

What Else Do Small Construction Companies Need to Know About BIM?

Probably the most important thing to know is that BIM is no longer something to think about for the future.  BIM is here NOW, and the necessity for moving forward with BIM technology can no longer be put off.  Read all you can about BIM.  Ask questions.  But, as Nike says about exercise “Just do it!”  Our White Paper can help you get started:


download white paper using bim technology- guide for small construction co\’s

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