Building Information Modeling (BIM), coupled with powerful design and simulation tools, is fostering greater collaboration between project teams. This convergence is impacting how the three disciplines of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry are working today, and how they anticipate working in the future, according to a new series of SmartMarket briefs released by Dodge Data and Analytics – Leading the Future of Building.
The series surveys architects, BIM/IT managers, structural and MEP engineers, general contractors (GCs), construction managers (CMs) and MEP trades to explore how the AEC industry is transforming as it becomes more interconnected—and the critical role BIM plays in facilitating this transformation.
Current AEC industry trends – if not the future of building – are and will be driven by users’ success resulting from the greater interdisciplinary collaboration and connection provided by BIM. Industry leaders are already changing the way they work thanks to BIM, and they’re seeing significant benefits.
Enhanced Collaboration Among Teams
Tools and platforms that enable multi-discipline collaboration and integrated workflows are becoming increasingly popular among teams using BIM.
The Connecting Teams study highlights that most project teams using BIM processes experience reduced project error (61%), reduced time required for communication (55%), increased client satisfaction with greater project visibility and input (52%), and higher quality projects (52%).
Additionally, 82% of BIM users say they’ve achieved a positive return-on-investment, with another 14 percent breaking even — meaning that a total of 96% of users have at least made up for the cost of their investment.
The benefits of improved team collaboration is consistent with reported project outcome improvements across all AEC disciplines, while highest among architects and engineers:
Improved Design Insight
Design Insight can be improved by using BIM processes that enable users to capture, create, and compute data and evaluate alternatives in a real-world context. This level of analytical insight early in the design phase can positively impact project outcomes.
Nearly nine in ten (88%) architects and engineers say that BIM enables better design insight. Seventy-four percent say BIM tools enable more predictive performance of completed projects; and 67% say that BIM helps teams to achieve the “best possible” — as opposed to “best practical” — design solutions.
A proven benefit of using BIM is the ability to create more well-reasoned designs. This includes bringing early-stage sketch concepts into modeling tools, generating multiple design options through parametric capabilities, and incorporating contextual details from technologies like reality capture and geographical information systems (GIS).
Equally critical is the ability to then analyze design options to determine the best solution, including analysis of building performance starting in the conceptual stage, and leveraging computational design algorithms to shed light on the impact of specific design choices.
An emerging tool for greater design insight is computational design, which allows designers to algorithmically model and simulate the behavior of a proposed solution to better understand the effects of design choices.
About two thirds of respondents are aware of computational design, and more than half (52%) currently use it. Of those users, 88 percent are successfully automating tasks by using computational design, particularly MEP engineers (92%). The report highlights that all users should see interoperability improve as integrated software platforms and common data environments that support and enable computational design become more common.
These statistics suggest that BIM tools for improved design insight are providing valuable benefits, and therefore are positioned well to grow in both awareness and use as BIM maturity expands and becomes standard practice.
Integrating Design and Construction
BIM is blurring the lines between digital processing and physical systems, causing the design and build phases of projects to move closer together. This integration of design and build workflows saves time and money, especially as projects move from 3D concept to field.
As the Connecting Design and Construction study shows, BIM capability is now frequently a “must-have” for contractors bidding on jobs. According to the study, 80 percent of high-engagement general contractors and construction managers (those using BIM tools on more than half their projects) require BIM compatibility from the mechanical, engineering, and plumbing (MEP) trades.
This results in contractors from the different trades participating in a design-to-construction digital effort alongside architects and engineers.
One hundred percent of MEP contractors and 90 percent of general contractors and structural engineers surveyed report participating in such integrated workflows — with tangible benefits to show for it.
Among high-engagement users, 84 percent say that BIM helps eliminate unnecessary rework, 69 percent say it reduces costs and materials waste, and 60 percent say it engages the material supply chain earlier and helps mitigate risks.
Survey respondents are also bullish on the potential future benefits of integrated workflows. More than half predict a “high” or “very high” impact on the following benefits: improved realization of design intent, collaboration across distributed geographies, increased owner confidence, the attraction and retention of tech-savvy talent, and the ability to complete more work with less labor.
Current AEC industry trends surrounding the widespread adoption of BIM processes are already having a major impact on the way the industry as a whole works together.
Last month, I wrote about my key takeaways from Autodesk University 2017 and how technology trends like “Connected BIM”, cloud worksharing, and industrialized construction are disrupting the industry and converging design and construction in a way we’ve never seen before.
This series from Dodge Data and Analytics underscores the fact that the industry is heading in that direction, with reported wins and efficiencies from adopters across the board. Architects, structural and MEP engineers and builders are all seeing the benefits of enhanced collaboration in their own teams and across disciplines.
As a result, they are expecting even greater benefits as BIM becomes more widely adopted and new tools emerge.