How to use BIM to drive productivity and profitability in construction projects?

Construction software

According to a Zion Market Research report, the market for Building Information Modeling was around USD 3.52 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 10.36 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 19.45% between 2017 and 2022.

The rapid adoption of BIM in the construction industry comes as no surprise due to the precision it offers the stakeholders. Apart from precise information, technology also brings several other benefits to the table. It makes it easy to plan, design and construct buildings using 3D, 4D, and 5D technical drawings. There are also other benefits, including real-time updates, collaboration in the cloud, effective visualization, and so on.

But the main benefit lies in the fact that it saves time and money for construction projects.

So, how is BIM used by construction firms to drive productivity and profitability in different construction projects?

Use of BIM to enhance productivity in construction

Every successful project is based on two key pillars – communication and collaboration. This is true for small-scale as well as large-scale projects. This is especially true of construction where so many different teams have different tasks to accomplish.

One of the main cause of delays in construction is a lack of communication between these teams. Given the dynamic environment, certain changes have to be made on the spot. Situations such as a change in the materials or a specific part of the project may call for some quick decisions to be made. Those changes then need to be conveyed to everyone impacted by it. Unless done efficiently, this can lead to delays, wasted efforts, time loss, and rework.

BIM can be used to bring better coordination between teams and reduce errors that can occur due to miscommunication. Each of the professionals working on the construction project can get instant updates on their devices as BIM models can be updated regularly to reflect changes. This instant relay of information allows the on-site managers to execute the changes, plan for their responses, and drive modifications in the plans of individual teams faster and more efficiently.

BIM can also be used to increase the productivity of the construction projects by neatly organizing all the aspect of the project onto a single platform. This can be viewed by all construction personnel and project managers. This common platform makes it easy to spot possible areas of conflict. For instance, the power utilities and the plumbing may have been planned for the same place. If all the relevant teams have access to the plan beforehand it becomes easy to avoid clashes. Changes can be made to the plans before the work gets done. This helps prevent costly and time-consuming rework.

BIM also helps create a unified reference source of information. For instance, the Active Document part of the program can be used to store and update all the necessary documents related to the project. This can then become the single source of truth for the entire project. This single reference source helps project teams work faster since they spend less time looking for information and more time working on it.

It is often difficult to capture all the information on construction sites on an ongoing basis. From aerial images to laser scans of the infrastructure, many techniques are employed to capture the information accurately. But what next? How is this information to be presented to the stakeholders? This is where construction firms are using BIM to compile and present all the inputs accurately in a simple, intuitive, easily-understandable model. The model offers the teams an updated version of the construction site in its “as-built” state. This offers a realistic basis for the teams to base their future plans on.

This one unique model also reduces duplication and rework of the drawings. Moreover, the drawing tools used in BIM are faster than the 2D drawing tools, with each object connected to a database. Also, the documents created are more accurate. It is this quick digitalization, which can save a significant amount of labor costs and overall time.

Another innovative application of BIM is in training project personnel and resources. For instance, BIM models can help new recruits get familiar with the ongoing construction quickly. They can see the overall plan, the constituent elements, the time-based schedules, and the immediate tasks. Therefore, this can act as a handy guide for rookies and bring them up-to-speed and make them productive faster.

Use of BIM to increase profitability

BIM can be used for accurate estimations of material requirements. Construction teams can order material quantities appropriately and can also time their orders much better by relying on the insights gained from the BIM models. This helps optimize the order values and reduce mistakes of over or under-ordering. It also helps reduce storage costs, losses due to improper storage facilities on-site, and damage due to poor on-site conditions. The significant cost-savings helps drive up project profitability.

Using BIM construction plans, teams can gain a tremendous amount of accuracy when it comes to scheduling and measurement among other aspects. This helps them plan for project completion and deliveries better. In many projects, this can help drive up profitability significantly. In multi-family homes, accurate time estimates, and a good track record of deliveries can help drive sales. In public infrastructure projects, meeting committed deadlines can help win project bonuses or at least avoid incurring penalty clauses.

Read also: Construction progress tracking – Turning data into real-time insight

Last but not least, BIM can be used to curb safety hazards to a large extent. With accurate plans, better collaboration, and more efficient execution, construction teams can focus on various safety aspects while on the job. Greater safety is, of course, a reward in itself but it also helps prevent losses due to fines and penalties.

BIM is gaining widespread acceptance by proving its worth in different projects. And it is safe to say that in the future, technology will become even more commonplace. It helps drive up productivity and improves profitability -that business case is compelling!

About the author: Sonali Dhopte is Bio-Architect and Interior Designer since 1993. She has worked with top architectural firms in the US and India. As Technical Director at Excelize, she oversees and guides the BIM technology team and manages project deliveries as per client requirements. As a leading woman Architect, she is a nationally recognised BIM Expert and has presented and participated in various panel discussions in prestigious conferences and has published various articles on BIM in prestigious journals.

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