Some would say they are doing a great job at getting BIM to the field. They have drawings and shop drawings being derived from models. They have models able to be viewed in Kiosks in the field. They have iPads where they can markup drawings and fill out reports. They push model info to their surveying equipment. But at the end of the day is this really providing much more to the general trades person than they already had? Aren't these really tools for project management? The advantage that we have given to date is the promise that the drawings and survey data that the trades people work off of is more accurate (Questionable) and some limited model viewing. I'm not impressed. There is no reason every trades person should not have an understanding of BIM and how it is being applied on the project.
Where are the BIM tools? Where are the items that we are putting in the hands of the trades people that allow them to interface with the project's models in the place where they are working? Who's focusing on this? Our hardware and software vendors have failed us. I've been asking this same question for over two years and still the focus is on project management.
Don't get me wrong. I understand that many of us are coming up with new and interesting ways to achieve this. But this is happening in isolated instances. Contractors have ridiculously small R&D budgets. I applaud the efforts of all of the contractors who have developed new and interesting ways to bring BIM tools to the field. But until contractors R&D budgets start to be the same as the manufacturing sector we are heavily dependent on the hardware and software vendors. As an industry, we need to stop being so easily satisfied with the half measures we receive. We need to push our hardware and software vendors to give us more.
But we can effect change in other ways. We can go to our trades people and start to help them with BIM education. It would really be beneficial for other trade unions to take the same initiative as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. Right now, we are helping them develop the training curriculum that will start to give all union carpenters an education in the BIM process, how it applies to their work, and how they can use it to their benefit. I would like to see this happening for all trades. As the process of construction changes, we need our trades people to be on the same page as the individuals that are supplying them with the designs they are expected to construct. This process is not necessarily going to give them new tools but it will help them integrate into new processes and be able to hit the ground running when some real BIM tools become available.