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More Construction Firms Turn to BIM to Cut Costs and Project Time


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If the rapid advancement of virtual reality technology being used in the design and building process is any indication of what’s to come, it’s not a question of if, but when, we will see a large number of construction firms adopting some form of VR.  

It’s an extremely effective way of communicating to a client what an office will look like or even an entire building.

Why? Because it’s a technology that is an ideal fit for construction. It’s an extremely effective way of communicating to a client what an office will look like or even an entire building. For example, through generating an immersive 3D model of an office space or hotel room, the client, architect, designer and any other stakeholder involved in the project can walk through a virtual jobsite before construction has even begun.

We all know that making any types of changes after a building is under construction could lead to very costly rework. By using VR, clients can make changes at no cost. A recent study by ARC Document Solutions found that 65.3 percent of architectural, engineering and construction management professionals surveyed reported that using VR applications cut material and labor costs. 

BIM for Construction

The financial benefits of using reality technology could be seen throughout numerous applications. One in particular, Building Information Modeling (BIM), has been proven to save significant amounts of time and money, increase quality and client satisfaction rates. It’s no surprise that it’s becoming a favorite among construction firms. In fact, contractors are now adopting BIM at a faster rate than architects.

On one project, the Collaborative Life Sciences Building in Portland, Oregon, a joint project of Oregon State University and Portland State University, BIM is credited with saving $10 million on a $295 million budget. The project had complex geometric designs and using 3D models helped to communicate the way things fit together for the subcontractors. But, it was the three-dimensional, all-digital documentation process used by the 28 different design teams that received credit for the savings. 

On one project, the Collaborative Life Sciences Building in Portland, Oregon, a joint project of Oregon State University and Portland State University, BIM is credited with saving $10 million on a $295 million budget.  

Research has found that BIM adoption is rapidly rising, and contractors are on the leading edge of adoption. A McGraw-Hill Construction survey found for the first time that contractors were using BIM more than architects. Even though it’s the large firms undertaking complex projects that represent the biggest users, the results of leveraging BIM are generally considered valuable to any size firm. 

For example, Dodge Data & Analytics found that many were using construction modeling to boost efficiencies in both scheduling and logistics. Construction modeling uses the BIM design to help contractors improve project delivery. 

Surveyed firms also reported getting the most value from the models by using them for work packaging and sequencing, site logistics, and equipment logistics. Respondents also said emerging uses for construction models include locating crews, workforce planning, enforcing safety, and handling temporary works.

Benefits of BIM

The benefits of using BIM could be seen across the board – from cost savings to increased productivity. Respondents said that overall they experienced a 5% reduction in final construction costs, a 5% increase in the speed of completion, a 25% improvement in labor productivity, and a 25% reduction in site labor because BIM made it feasible to use more off-site fabrication.

Construction companies are even creating partnerships that exploit BIM in new ways. Turner Construction Company used a predictive visual data analytics tool developed by a team from the University of Illinois to improve responses to performance issues at the Sacramento Kings Golden 1 Center construction site.  

The system helped managers sort problems by seriousness, and then correct them more reliably and efficiently. 

The pilot project goal was to use color-coded 3D visual production models to easily inform project stakeholders about at-risk locations on a project site. The system helped managers sort problems by seriousness, and then correct them more reliably and efficiently. The long-term impact was better project performance and greater connectedness among teams. Because the system called attention to problems grouped by their location in 3D, it also streamlined weekly work planning.

Today, BIM is working at all levels of construction projects, and with all participants. Meanwhile, new BIM tools are simplifying how people interact with models. Other technologies like geographic information systems and augmented reality are working with BIM to open up whole new ways of imagining, viewing, constructing, and managing the built world. 

If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks and webinars you may enjoy:

The Future is BIM - Because Information Matters

Generating Accurate As-Built Drawing Sets (Without the Headache)

The Power of I in BIM

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