How to Get More Out of BIM in the Construction Lifecycle
Over nearly the last two decades, building information modeling (BIM) has proven itself to be a powerful tool for design and construction teams. Enhancing preconstruction project visualization, identifying clash detection and improving cost estimation are some of the more common and well-known benefits of BIM.
Nevertheless, today construction’s use of BIM is evolving. 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.
However, according to Jeremy Thibodeau, AMER Leader, Construction Customer Success for Autodesk, it’s easy to get distracted by some of the more flashy possibilities for the 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 indeed exciting, it’s for a much more practical reason than many may 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.”
Indeed, the true future of BIM involves getting more out of the end to end use of the model by improving overall communication. That means, increasing the use of models not only in design but throughout preconstruction, in the field during construction, during closeout and even through facility maintenance.
Recently, we sat down with Jeremy to learn more about how the specific areas of construction where building information modeling is underutilized and how teams can overcome roadblocks to improve adoption. You can read our interview, below. But first, take a look at our latest infographic where we highlight the current state of BIM and where opportunities lie in its near future.
The State of Building Information Modeling (BIM): An Infographic
Check out (and share) at our infographic highlighting the present and future of BIM. You can also view and download a full-size PDF version here.
Interview with Jeremy Thibodeau, AMER Leader, Construction Customer Success for Autodesk
Throughout your career, how have you seen BIM change?
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.
Where do you think BIM is underutilized the most in the construction lifecycle?
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.
For these underutilized areas, what do you think are the major roadblocks to adoption at this moment?
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.
With the recent acquisition of PlanGrid by Autodesk, where do you see the greatest opportunities for BIM growth right now in the field with the partnership of these two powerful technologies?
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.
What are you most excited for about the future of BIM?
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.