The effort to expand thin profit margins and improve sustainable ROI is an ongoing challenge in the construction trades. Beyond the difficulties inherent in complex, large-scale projects, construction is an incredibly competitive industry and there are plenty of firms out there willing to cut corners so they can come in with the lowest bid. This puts the pressure on everyone to create efficiencies and boost profit wherever and whenever possible, while still trying to maintain the high quality necessary to sustain success.
In recent years, many firms have learned that Building Information Modeling (BIM) holds the key to accomplishing that goal. Not only does BIM result in highly detailed and effective 3D models for use in the planning and execution of complex construction projects, it also serves to improve the estimating, planning, design, and detailing phases of a project, creating efficiencies and boosting profit.
Study Reveals BIM’s Powerful Impact on Construction Project Success
A study published in the Engineering News-Record focused on general contractors, construction managers, and trade contractors with $50 million or more in annual construction value. The study identified the following compelling benefits these companies have derived from integrating BIM into their processes:
- 70 percent reported at least a 5-percent decrease in requests for information during construction.
- 50 percent also saw at least a 5-percent reduction in material waste, schedules, and final construction costs.
- 77 percent of GCs and 80 percent of CMs see at least a 5-percent decrease in RFIs, while 58 percent of trade contractors report that much of a reduction in RFIs.
- 43 percent of trade contractors report at least a 5-percent reduction in reportable safety incidents from BIM use.
Interestingly, these results came from a random sample of firms, some of which had in-house BIM practitioners working on owned technology, while others outsourced their BIM work to subcontractors or consultants. Yet, the results were the same.
This underlines the fact that it’s the actual BIM processes themselves — not necessarily a specific solution or individual — that makes the difference. But, why is this the case?
There are at least four distinct ways that the BIM process can help make construction projects more efficient and profitable:
- BIM produces better construction documents. Since highly accurate 3D design modeling forms the foundation of the entire BIM process, the documents generated — from the initial estimating and bidding phase straight through any necessary change orders — tend to be more detailed and more accurate than similarly functional 2D drawings created traditionally.
- BIM supports more efficient and accurate planning and execution. The detail and inherent data required to develop a set of BIM construction plans automatically lends itself to greater accuracy in measurement, capacity, scheduling, and so much more. All of this reduces the potential for human error, miscalculations, important details being overlooked, and so many other inefficiencies and annoyances that end up shaving away valuable profit.
- Across the full project workflow, BIM reduces errors and ambiguities that waste time and money. For many of the same reasons noted above, BIM designs also facilitate efficient and cost-effective procurement of tools, supplies, and labor for every necessary part of the job. It also makes collaborative communication easier and more productive, especially if the technology exists on both sides of each conversation so that both parties can actively view and reference the same 3D plans. Once again, this means fewer errors and less unnecessary waiting, adding up to more money in your pocket.
- BIM helps designers and detailers to identify and resolve potential safety hazards earlier in the process. While speed, quality, and efficiency are all vital aspects of a successful construction project, they’ll all fall by the wayside if someone is hurt — or worse, killed — in the process of completing the job. With a more detailed, accurate plan in hand and a highly efficient, smoothly running jobsite, everyone can more readily focus on safety and execute their jobs without putting themselves or others at risk.
Whether your firm is already heavily invested in BIM technology or you haven’t even gotten your feet wet, we encourage you to explore the Trimble MEP blog and industry guides for more great information about overcoming the challenges and reaping the benefits of BIM.