While Henry Ford was inventing the Model T automobile as a new travel tool, he created a delivery process called the assembly line.

It shortened the manufacturing time and reduced a vehicle’s price, which significantly expanded the auto market customer-base. The real invention was arguably not the car but the assembly line process that built it. That process was adopted and integrated as the core process for hundreds of product manufacturing processes.

Commercial BIM software (Revit, Bentley, ArchiCAD, and Vectorworks) provided the basic benefits from a single 3D BIM file: coordinated construction document views, schedules and printed sets. BIM software gave architects, engineers, contractors and owners real-time 3D views of the proposed project and design options. The model became a collaborative conversation tool between design, construction and facility owners versus 2D printed views.

As BIM software was implemented within a design or construction process, it became a BIM-driven process. When the entire project team worked on the same BIM software, the BIM-driven process delivered the best financial incentives and leaner scheduling for the entire team.

BIM Mandated Team Proposals

Large design and construction firms have set BIM mandates for their projects and project teams, regardless of whether or not the facility owner has a BIM mandate of their own. Project firms are integrating cost and time-saving BIM-based, collaborative workflow processes into their firms. The net result is creating more competitive and more efficient design and construction processes. If you can’t deliver using BIM processes, you are not allowed onto the project team.

Public and private facility owners’ BIM mandates and BIM execution plans contractually set BIM deliverables and competencies to qualify as a team member for their projects.

Both mandates seek the full team benefits (financial, time, quality) of using BIM, with all project members using BIM processes. Team members using CAD and/or paper processes clearly disrupt the efficiency of BIM-based project processes. The market demand for BIM competency is either growing or shrinking the market for both project firms and professionals. If you are a real player, it’s expanding, and if you lack BIM competency, your market opportunities are shrinking.

Project Supply Chains

While BIM mandates have typically included consultants and contractors, the mandates are becoming inclusive to building product manufacturers (BPM) and their distribution networks.

Global contractor Balfour Beatty issued a statement in December 2012 that read “We are reducing our list of supply chain companies by one-third; from 15,000 to 10,000 suppliers in the next year. BIM proficiency will serve as our ‘qualifier’ for a company to remain in the Balfour Beatty supply chain.”

Designers depend on their BIM software to auto-create detailed interior elevations, building elevations, building sections, enlarged plans, isometric and perspective views and photorealistic rendered views, while the software also produces door, window, equipment and casework schedules from the floor plans. BPMs’ pre-built BIM product files not only get their products into the project but can substantially reduce the modeling time for the entire team.

Design-Build | Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

In the US, a Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) May 2014 Report stated that 50 per cent of projects over $10 million were using a design-build process. The design-build and integrated project delivery processes are very collaborative team processes. However, add BIM authoring tools (Revit, Bentley, ArchiCAD, and Vectorworks) to these project delivery processes and you amplify team performance via a single coordinated BIM file.

Here are some examples as to how BIM can help:

Specifications: e-SPECS, a BIM Automated Specification System (Revit/ArchiCAD) compiles and auto-writes the construction specifications based on the building components models (doors, windows, plumbing) in the facility model. As new product models are added or deleted, it sends alerts to the projects’ construction specifiers. They will then coordinate the specifications and/or send instructions back the project team regarding the product selection for the project.

MEP fabrication and wall panelization processes have delivered both cost and time-savings for commercial projects.

CADmep (3D AutoCAD) & SysQue (Revit) provide MEP prefabrication models using MEP BIM components. The BIM-linked fabrication software spools the BIM files to prefabrication shop equipment, which fabricates the coordinated piping, fittings, valves and ductwork. Once assembled, it is shipped to the construction site. The assemblies are unloaded and taken to their installation points: hallway ceilings, in-floor placement, mechanical rooms or vertical mechanical chases.

StrucSoft fabricates wall panels from the wall components within a Revit model. It applies predefined engineering rules to size the headers and support components around openings while setting the modular wall lengths for shipping. Similar to the MEP fabrication software, it creates a Bill of Materials for estimating and fabrication.

BIM for Safety

Turner Construction and several other major general contractors (GC) are using a BIM-based construction process for installing MEP hanger inserts. It is a dramatically faster installation process that provides a substantially safer work environment for construction workers.

The BIM process connects GPS technology and the GC’s coordinated BIM facility file to create a way-finding-installation system. The Turner teams collect hanger point locations from the GPS coordinated BIM file for layout in the field.

Traditionally, MEP hanger inserts were installed from the underside of the deck after the concrete topping was poured. They used a ladder – posing safety issues – drilling up into the underside of deck/concrete. One worker could install approximately 20 holes a day.

The GPS/BIM-enabled process allows a crew of three workers to install 750 hanger inserts per day. They install standing on top of the metal deck with no ladder required. Installation is much faster and safer – simply walk to a hanger insert location using the GPS device, drill and screw in the threaded rods for pipe hanger racks, cable tray, electrical conduit racks, etc.

This is an excellent example of a time-saving, safer, and more efficient process to install 100,000-plus hanger inserts into metal deck before concrete topping is poured.

While the leading BIM software packages have demonstrates live project application for more than 10 years, many BIM-driven processes are or have trended to be BIM-dependent.