There’s a danger that companies could end up throwing themselves headlong into the task of integrating BIM into their business without fully understanding it, or considering what their customers’ and their own requirements actually are.– Andrew Orriss, SIG Insulation
Andrew Orriss, head of business development at SIG Insulation and one of a panel of speakers at the BIM4Housing roadshows, on some of the challenges that early adopters in the supply chain have encountered.
Since the government announced in 2011 that it will be introducing a mandatory BIM requirement on all of its contracts from 2016 onwards, conversation and speculation surrounding the technology has expanded to fever pitch across the industry. The overwhelming message has been that companies at every level of the supply chain should invest in BIM sooner rather than later, or risk being left behind.
However, industry understanding of BIM has not necessarily increased at the same rate as the hype, and this knowledge gap has the potential to cause serious problems. There are a large number of technical people operating in the landscape, many of whom have a tendency to over-complicate and a few of whom may be perpetuating the general perception of BIM as a “dark art” in order to upsell their insight.
As a result, there’s a danger that companies could end up throwing themselves headlong into the task of integrating BIM into their business without fully understanding it, or considering what their customers’ and their own requirements actually are. It’s the all-or-nothing approach: trying to build the space station before they’ve even sent up a dog.
To give an example, at one of the stops on the recent BIM4Housing national roadshow we heard an exchange between a manufacturer and a contractor. The latter explained that when he tried to use the manufacturer’s package of BIM data, he found that it was so comprehensive – all singing, all dancing, full colour, three dimensions, and including three years’ worth of their back catalogues – that the data was simply unusable.
Needless to say, his confession left the representatives from the manufacturer crestfallen – they had spent time and money investing in this much-lauded “technology of the future”, and yet rather than enhancing their service, it was potentially driving customers away. This incident is by no means unique. Many high-profile manufacturers are having to adjust the data they supply to make it more user friendly, as most of their customers simply don’t have the processing power to handle this level of data.
BIM doesn’t need to be this complicated or bewildering. There are many companies, including major building contractors, that are using it in a much more practical, common sense way, and moderating their usage of the technology depending on the size of each project, its value, and the customer’s interest in and/or capability of using the data. BIM is different things to different people, so the most important thing to remember is to be responsive – to your own needs and, more importantly, those of the parties you plan to work with.
At SIG, we’ve been exploring these issues with both our customers and our suppliers, identifying what challenges BIM has thrown up for them so far and how we as a distribution business can use our unique position between the two groups to iron out problems.
For instance, with some manufacturers having to rethink how they present their product data, SIG is acting as the conduit for that information and as a result is ideally positioned to relay to them what their customers actually want or need from the data.
Needless to say, as an industry getting to grips with a revolutionary new technology, it was inevitable that the first wave of adopters would make a few mistakes along the way. The important thing is to make sure that we all learn from those early explorations. Consequently, it’s SIG’s hope that by providing our shared know-how to both sides of the supply chain, we can facilitate stronger working BIM partnerships – to the benefit of the whole industry.