It’s what every manager is striving for in construction: getting more done, while reducing the amount of time, work and failure costs. However, you may be cutting costs in the wrong places - and ultimately harming your profits.
Ruud Kats, sales director at Stabiplan, a Trimble company, addressed this issue and called contractors to action during a presentation for MEP managers. The trigger was a collapse during the construction of a parking garage, which quickly turned projected profits into losses. A report by the Dutch Safety Board stated the accident should have been prevented, but because of tight schedules and budgets, the consequences of the unusual construction had not been considered. The report sent an important message: if you look blindly at the costs, you run the risk of losing sight of other things.
You get what you pay for
The industry tends to be very focused on cutting costs, which already starts in the tendering phase, Ruud explained. The lowest price is often leading, which can be at the expense of safety and quality of projects. This is where MEP contractors can start making a difference.
Sit down with the client
Ruud explained: "Instead of putting together the lowest possible price as quickly as possible, contractors should offer added value and sell options. They should start thinking in terms of possibilities instead of costs. By actively contributing ideas to the client from the start, a higher price for better MEP systems can be justified. The MEP contractor must, therefore, sit down with the client, show the possibilities and discuss the costs. More efficient and higher quality systems may cost more at the start, but save twice as much money in the long term.”
Maintenance of the model
An example that was discussed during the presentation was the maintenance of the BIM model. Just as cars need repairs and boilers need service to keep functioning, BIM models also need maintenance. To ensure that a BIM model remains of value for several years, it must remain supported by new software versions. This requires attention and should be taken into account from the start. By discussing things like maintenance with the client, problems in the long term are prevented.”
Added value thanks to BIM
Building Information Modeling is an important way in which MEP contractors can offer added value, and the MEP contractor needs to show their clients there is more to BIM than "pretty" 3D drawings. Ruud: "BIM is about both visualization and information. It is about making efficient use of information throughout the entire construction cycle; from the first designs and diagrams, calculation and modeling, to the placement of orders, prefabrication, management, and maintenance. Working with BIM may be more expensive at the front end, but it gives much more control over costs and planning. Things that are overlooked in a traditional process are made visible with BIM. This results in much less stress and more continuity.
What does this mean in practice? In residential construction, for example, MEP contractors can offer various options right from the start and make them visual with BIM. Or offer heat pumps, keeping sustainability goals in mind. This approach prevents contractors from having to add a heat pump last-minute, while it no longer fits in the plant room. By discussing such matters in advance and including them in the model, MEP contractors create added value and avoid costly last-minute changes.”
Invest in productivity
Who wants to maintain a strong market position and deliver great projects, needs to think in terms of possibilities rather than costs. For instance, now that draftsmen are under pressure and the turnover of staff is high, it is more important than ever to invest in people. Ruud: "Make sure that your company remains innovative and offers interesting projects and training. Many companies send their modelers on training once every five years, while the technology advances much faster. By investing in knowledge and know-how, your team remains productive and motivated. If you invest in your employees, you can get up to 50% as much done at the same time and with the same people.”
Another important way to increase productivity is by using the right technology. There has been a time when technology could not yet deliver on the promise of BIM, but now technology is ready. Ruud: "Today, MEP contractors have access to solutions for their entire workflow: they can start designing constructible models with the right MEP content, collaborate in the cloud, use robotics to quickly layout systems from the model, and import the information back into the model using, for example, a point cloud. This way the workflow is complete and efficient, resulting in a model that is up-to-date at the time of delivery and still valuable in the time to come.”
An opportunity for MEP contractors
So, it’s finally within reach: getting more work done while reducing the amount of time, personnel and failure costs. By investing in people and technology, you can get more work done with fewer people while costs remain under control. Moreover, MEP contractors can use BIM to add value to both their own employees and their clients, designing, building and managing better systems. "It is now up to MEP contractors to take the lead," concluded Ruud his presentation: "Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and have a sit-down with them. What can you offer? Propose options, contribute ideas and create added value.”
Would you like to learn more about BIM? Check out our free guide "How to Make a Profit From BIM", which helps you along your way towards making the necessary step towards achieving ROI and maximizing the benefits of a successful BIM strategy.