The articles by Connor Christian & John Grady were written as part of the National BIM Standard–United States 2021 Vision Task Force (VTF). The VTF (chaired by Chris Moor) has collected more than 30 of these visionary papers from all corners of the construction industry in an effort to build a roadmap for the industry to become more efficient. They are in the process of weaving the essays together to create a single, compelling and tangible vision of what the future may look like, along with the steps the industry may need to take in order to get there.
At Epic BIM we like to have a little fun as well as hit some of the key challenges facing our industry so Connor and I tasked the group with describing a day in the future and how they would see BIM affecting their projects. I will be the first to kick this off and each feature will have the title: BIM in the Not So Distant Future
February 20, 2021
At this time, Construction is starting to see an increase in efficiency and productivity due to the incorporation of
new technology. The new technology has solved the major problem of getting the right information, to the right
people, at the right time. It has permanently changed the operations of everyone in the Office, Trailers, and Field.
In the Field, the new technology of construction is being used by every worker on a project. Anyone putting work
in place can interface with their tablet to see job specific installation instructions for their particular task. Location
aware tablets allow workers to see the coordinated model in the place that they are actually working so they can
make informed decisions about installation. Robotic Total Stations are no longer just used for layout but have
become the common tool for quality control, reporting variances between in field installation and the coordinated
model. Prefabrication has become a standard practice that is used on every project although at varying levels of
complexity. The link between Drawings, Specifications, and the Model has become seamless and has easily
expanded to include specific product information and manufacturer installation guides. Materials arrive with just
in time delivery and their lifecycle between being shipped and installed is documented through the use of RFID
tags. Location awareness has just started to gain entry into the construction industry making it possible to track
every piece of equipment, every worker, and every tool resulting in safer and more efficient work practices.
In the trailer life has become much easier. The endless lines of filing cabinets are gone. The giant room filled with
plans and binders has been replaced with a much smaller room containing a computer and a large screen. The
new software used in construction saves every bit of data entered for any reason into a database to be analyzed
during the project post-mortem. As you look around at everyone’s computer you see either a model or a database
being used in some capacity. Coordination meetings are short and only major problems are discussed. There are
no more discussions about naming conventions, file types, and file transfer protocols. Direct feedback from the
field workers tablets is used to update progress and track completion. Location of workers is automatically stored
in their company’s daily reports. Safety zones are mapped out in the office and the workers ID Badges warn them
when they enter danger areas.
In the office estimating has become a smooth hybrid of analysis of models and documents. Estimates have
become much faster as a result. Accurate rough estimates are able to be pulled directly from design team models
because of the tagging of model elements using CSI standards. Observation of project models has become a
standard tool for upper management in their analysis of the projects they are in charge of. All reports for jobs are
pulled from an integrated database of all active and inactive projects as needed.
In the background of all of these processes are the standards that make it all possible. The standards tie together
the way every model and database will share information. Databases and models will all be built to this standard
making information pass easily from designers to estimators to the field. But most importantly for contractors this
database will house all of their data for all of their projects allowing analysis to take place in a way it was never
done in the past. Contractors use this data to learn trends about safety, logistics, coordination, manpower, and
every other aspect of construction. The contractors that learn from this data are able to outperform the
competition in every way and the industry leaders are defined by their understanding of data collection and how
to analyze it.