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
2021 Vision for Preconstruction in the Vertical Market with the BIM
Monday March 1st, 2021 – I have been asked to write a one-page dissertation by younger members of my staff on how the BIM used to be applied to our virtual design and preconstruction process. So I will keep it pretty brief and cover the big items. They are interested to learn how far we have come in such a short amount of time, after my mention that the construction industry saw little change for some 30,000 years. I am very pleased to see the next generation respect the history of our industry and appreciate the change in technology while learning something from it. Just a few years ago, this was unheard of.
I will formally begin, by making most of my comparisons to the year 2013, when I was lecturing to the Construction Owners Association of America in Austin, Texas; just 8 short years ago about a similar topic. At the time, there were still many in the room with glazed-over eyes on what technology could do for them. Also, we were still in the middle of multiple software acquisitions and mergers, along with new players and technology features entering the market much faster than the masses could digest. To put it in perspective; we were still using iPhones, not the wearable communication technology of today. We had to look at either a set of plans or a model, not both at the same. The BIM hardly addressed preconstruction, cost estimating or project history systems and processes. The ultimate goal was to push this broken information coming from the BIM (and no, not the collaborative geospatially connected BIM you see today) into facilities management for the benefit of the owner and the facility lifespan. No surprise why it was met with such resistance for so many years.
Sure we had some tools that were dedicated to extracting quantities from the BIM, but with the poor and inconsistent quality the value was limited at best. The BIM was missing so much important data that estimators had to supplement the model with traditional quantity survey and manual methods in order to develop a reasonably accurate budget. It is similar to lower-tier contractors are now facing. The steps of connecting information to project history for benchmarking in early concept design were completely missing. Limited quantity extraction was it. We also had separate estimating solutions that were just starting to integrate with these quantity extraction providers, yet failing horribly. Could you even imagine a world where early concept design models had no match to project history and as you built out your design you had a completely separate estimating platform? That’s right, no idea of the related costs as you developed the BIM! We also did not have the simulation software that uses industry-designed algorithms to produce what if scenarios based of proven estimating methodologies through intelligent (parametric) assemblies.
The industry was talking about the change coming. How one would estimate from the BIM someday. Sure, you could find a few specialists out there doing it, but at the time it was still being used to develop ‘check quantities’. The top firms might have leveraged the BIM for 5% of their estimating, not like 45-50% you see today with most firms having 3D estimators. Remember these folks were also not involved in the design process either, again another change from what we know now. So you did not have the same level of trust and confidence in the quantities coming from the model.
It wasn’t until much later when we truly saw most firms started selfishly using BIM in their own process. The BIM was mainly used in preconstruction for pursuits and sold to the owner on the bases of its downstream possibilities. There is no question we still have a long way to go, but looking back from where we have come from and you should be pleased. Like many of you, I am looking forward to the holographic technology Apple is planning to release with its new iWatch 6. I think that could make a serious mark in construction.