Knowing that BIM is not really any new technological breakthrough and it has been around for awhile, we might ask ourselves a question: how good are we adopting it in our practice, daily work and projects? I personally have the feeling that even if it can be an “old topic” seems that the AEC industry is struggling to adopt BIM.
Are we implementing correctly in our daily practice? Are teams working properly with it? But most importantly, Are we managing to get any benefit from it? Are we saving time and cost in an effective way?
Recently in Hong Kong the CIC (Construction Industry Council) has published the results of the BIM adoption Survey 2019 carried out in the Hong Kong Market. It is a very good example of a Market survey focused on how the industry is adopting this technology. It focus on Hurdles, Recommendations and Methods. I strongly recommend you all to have a look:
I would like to highlight few Interesting points from this survey that I believe apply to the majority of countries in the world:
BIM Users: Leaders, Adopters and Laggers. How do we define them?
The survey reflects that 44% of the surveyed organisations are using BIM. The way the BIM users were classified is as follows:
BIM Leaders (9%) – Organisations that use BIM workflow in at least 86% of their projects.
BIM Adopters (35%) – Organisations that use BIM workflow in at least 36% of their Projects.
BIM Laggers (56%) – Organisations that use BIM workflow in less that 36% of their projects.
From this data we could state that BIM adoption is happening slowly in Hong Kong market.
Distribution of BIM Leaders, Adopters, and Laggers in the Hong Kong industry Stakeholders
The distribution of the different stakeholders of the industry among the 3 categories of BIM users are as per the image below.
Originally it was stated that BIM implementation in Hong Kong was driven by contractors. In 2019 we could see that main Contractors and Subcontractors are at the 5th and 6th position of the different Professionals of the industry from the list. Stating that BIM consultants are at the top of the list is not surprising. This is similar as stating that the top consumers of Organic products are the Organic product suppliers and the Organic Product Advisers, Organic Recipes restaurants, etc.. Unfortunately this is what numbers reveal. After so many years we are still at a very early stage of the BIM adoption in Hong Kong.
For me the most discouraging data is related to the “Consultants”. Following this data, only 7% of the consultants that took the survey are BIM Leaders. 53% of them are BIM adopters and 40% basically almost do not use BIM. This means that only half of the Designers and Authors of the construction projects of the AEC industry in Hong Kong use BIM in 36% of their projects.
After so many years of developments in the BIM technology, BIM workflow or however we want to call it, I have the feeling that BIM is still an “extra requirement” that is taken more as a feature rather than a necessity.
I believe this is the most relevant information of the survey, and I think that this is where we should focus our attention. Why are we still struggling with something that could really benefit our work so much? What is holding us back?
The Survey describes this phenomena by describing the main hurdles:
1. Compliance-Driven Mindset
What this problem reflects is that companies make an effort to produce BIM deliverables to comply with Client’s requirements. The main issue is that if this is the mindset and the approach, cleary the advantages of using BIM are not understood clearly and the effort ends up being dedicated to duplicate work rather than to work in a smart way.
The recommendation from CIC towards this hurdle is basically try to understand the values and the advantages. It is not possible to implement something if first we don’t truly understand “why” shall we implement it in first place.
This hurdle is the result of the Hurdle number 1. If you deliver BIM as an additional service, then you end up doing that, additional work. The problem of this is that at the end most of Consultants are not going to do this for free. Which means that the client will end up paying additional cost for a deliverable that most likely is not going to be up to the standards or client’s expectations.
Clearly the Recommendation here is to invest in learning to have a BIM driven workflow. Do things right once, starting from the beginning. Otherwise what we are doing is just duplicating work.
3. Insufficient Experts
This hurdle is part of the challenge that we are all going through inside this loop. The slower we implement the technology, the slower professionals will understand it as a requirement, and the expertise will be always lacking.
We need to demand the expertise starting by promoting it inside our own organisations. And here the solution and the recommendation from CIC is similar to the previous point. We need to do an effort to invest in educate our own team, create our own champions and expertise.
AEC industry as we know is one of the most inefficient industries. We still have the mindset of better do something “twice” by spending “double” effort. It is easier and faster to do things wrong at first (the way we always did it, many people would proudly say), and afterwards we (or someone else) will do it again in order to fix it. Seems that it is too complicated to try to do something correctly from the beginning.
I have heard from some peers that BIM should be a forgotten word already and we should be talking about simply “the way we design, the way we build”. Doing a Virtual model of our project should be our standard approach to things. With all technology breakthroughs that we are experiencing in all the fields including Design and construction, still in 2020 this concept of Virtual Building or Virtual model sounds very complicated for most of professionals.
I think that the BIM Adoption Survey is a great analysis of how the industry is adopting a new workflow. Will be great to see more initiatives like this in all countries. But I have to disagree with the approach that the CIC has regarding the concept of “BIM Leaders”. If a team/company or organisation, truly understands a workflow, it would become the standard. Why implement it only in some projects? That means that we are still duplicating workflows, we are still not driven by a best practice approach. Using BIM workflow in 86% of our projects and not 100% means that it is not a standard approach. In my opinion that is not being a BIM leader. Being a BIM leader is to use BIM as “the way we work“, as a backbone of our daily workflow.
I don’t think we should ask things like “In how many projects do you use BIM?” The right question should be “Now that you use BIM, in which projects have you experience the most advantages?” Or, “which Client was happier of having no unnecessary errors due to inconsistent 2D documentation?”, “In which projects have we saved more time, and over cost?”
Improve the way we work is a responsibility, not an extra feature or an additional service. We have a responsibility of adopting and implementing technology. With everything that is happening in our environment and our cities, we need to have more control of how we build, we need to be more reliable. From minimising Construction waste, to understand the CO2 footprint of our building. To have more time to think how to improve our cities and less time in fixing errors.
Let’s start doing our projects right from the start, no errors, no unnecessary abortive workflows.
Thank you for reading us!