BIM is a word or label that has become commonplace in our industry, and the processes and practices that makeup BIM are changing the way MEP contractors do business. We are all aware that BIM makes a project more efficient and cost-effective, but adopting BIM also has costs to the contractor.
For contractors just starting to adopt BIM the journey can be intimidating; there are tools and technology to acquire, business processes to change, and more importantly, people to educate or hire. Even after a company adopts BIM, there are projects that demand increased BIM resources. In this unsure economy, more and more MEP Contractors are turning to BIM consulting services to help them to navigate the BIM roadmap and control costs.
Moving to BIM will typically require contractors to learn 3D modeling and the tools and equipment that accompany it. Modeling in 3D takes specialized tools and equipment, and with many 3D BIM software authoring tools on the market, different projects may often require different tools. Additionally, collaboration tools can also carry a hefty price tag, although some, such as Tekla BIMsight, are available at no cost. Given the variability of project-specific requirements, contractors can often face an uphill battle to ensure that they are properly equipped for every project. Ancillary costs such as subscription fees to stay compatible with the latest versions and high-powered CAD computers can also contribute to the overall investment a contractor must make.
Beyond the financial investment, most contractors moving towards the BIM environment typically need to modify their business practices. BIM requires contractors to manage the data that makes up their portion of the model and ensure they communicate that data to the rest of the team in an accurate and timely manner. The processes within the contractor’s shop may have to change to allow for more interoperability between design and manufacturing tools.
Lastly, contractors stepping into the BIM arena need people that understand the new language and workflow of BIM. Often, the detailing staff needs specialized training to move from 2D to 3D detailing. In addition to enhanced authoring tool training, the staff must deal with additional tools and workflows, such as collaboration software, field layout equipment, and point cloud integration, that are quickly becoming commonplace in the industry. The domain expertise required to efficiently operate in a BIM world can add up quickly.
Given the upfront investment in both the tools and training, having all the required BIM tools and resources in-house may not be a fit for every contractor. However, all is not lost for jobs that require BIM. Enter BIM Service Organizations. Working with a BIM Service company alleviates many of these cost issues for a contractor, with the service company taking on the burden of acquiring the software licenses and hardware. The service company also manages the versions of data in the model and communicates the data accurately, either with the BIM team or the contractor. They also hire, train, and manage the resources; allowing contractors to expand and shrink a number of services they purchase depending upon the size of the jobs they are awarded.
Using a BIM Service Company allows contractors to move into BIM or expand to take on larger projects without making substantial investments in BIM authoring tools, training, and resources. Learn more about how Trimble's BIM Consulting Services can help you better manage costs and improve the bottom line.
About the Author
John is Trimble MEP's Director of Client Services Group for North America.More Content by John McKay