A survey carried out by the Institution of Structural Engineers (ISE) has revealed a slow uptake of BIM among smaller structural engineering practices.
While there is a high level of interest and enthusiasm for BIM among the 750 respondents, the survey identified training issues as well as the slow uptake among smaller practices as barriers to implementation across the profession.
Overall, 71% of those surveyed believed that BIM was relevant to their practice. However, the attitude of smaller practices and sole practitioners was notably less enthusiastic with 60% of sole practitioners stating that BIM was not relevant to their practice. And 40% of those employed in practices of between two and 10 staff also replied that BIM was not relevant to them.
Smaller practices still see BIM as ‘not relevant’- https://t.co/b5OZJEJDcj
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The survey also highlighted a gap between engineers’ ambitions and their actual use of BIM. Although 70% of respondents said that they already needed to use BIM to meet their clients’ needs (or would need to do so within the next two years), only 32% described their current use of BIM as “heavy” or “very heavy”. A further 40% described their use as “light” or “very light”.
Several issues for the adoption of BIM were also identified as key barriers to sharing information via BIM, with the most common being the protection of intellectual property, trust in how BIM would be used, and liability issues.
Training was also identified as an issue, with a gap highlighted in the amount of training given to junior and senior staff. More than 50% of those being trained in BIM were found to be graduate or technician level employees, while only 9% of principal staff or directors were receiving training.
Commenting on the results, David Shields, chairman of the Institution of Structural Engineers’ BIM panel, said: “Much of what we learned confirmed the narrative of recent years: that is a general enthusiasm for BIM among our members which has been largely unaffected by the status of the economy.
“One of the most striking aspects of the survey has been the continuing uncertainty about BIM among smaller practices – but we would urge all those who view BIM as irrelevant to remember that BIM is not just a question of 3D modelling. BIM should rather be regarded as a way to improve the quality and efficiency of design and assurance.
“On many occasions 3D modelling software will not be necessary to make a BIM contribution, in fact in many cases small practices will already be doing BIM, gathering all the necessary data as part of their regular work.
“We’d also urge firms of all sizes to consider training senior management positions in BIM as much as graduates and technician level employees: most of the issues we saw identified as barriers to BIM will require management input to resolve, and therefore management fluency in BIM will be essential to fast, efficient working practices.”
One of the most striking aspects of the survey has been the continuing uncertainty about BIM among smaller practices – but we would urge all those who view BIM as a way to improve the quality and efficiency of design and assurance.– David Shields, chairman, Institution of Structural Engineers’ BIM panel