Is the sector ready to work with BIM?

Building Information Modelling is a data creation and management process of a construction work for all of its life cycle, using 3D, real-time building modelling software. Besides a technology as such, it’s a new method that is imposed as a new international benchmark in the construction industry.

 

BIM is a collaborative work system for managing building and civil work projects using a digital scale model. It covers the building’s geometry, spatial relationships, geographical information, inventories, component amounts and properties, as well as a budget for the whole duration of the project. It allows for construction works to be managed via a virtual three-dimensional scale model related to databases. The system covers all the stages of the building process, from the study and design to the construction, including the subsequent maintenance and management of the infrastructure.

Saving time and creating and amending the projects are amongst the main advantages of the system, as well as the interaction between collaborators by sharing specific content for each speciality, checking interferences, integrating 2D and 3D and planning all the maintenance activities, amongst other developments. The information extracted from all these actions is consolidated in one sole repository.

However, the new method requires an initial effort, significant investment in training, software and hardware, and above all, adaptation to a completely different working environment. It is an expensive process but all construction, promotion or engineering companies have to go through it sooner or later. Not least, soon companies will be forced to adopt the BIM technology for all public construction works. Other countries, especially English-speaking and Nordic ones, where this process is further ahead, already make the use of BIM necessary in public tenders, which is why international construction and engineering companies are already working with this model in their international tenders.

At the end of the year, BIM will be mandatory for all Spanish construction works.

With regards Spain, the Public Works Ministry has already set a date for the mandatory implementation of BIM for public works. There will be two phases. First, from 17th December 2018, BIM will be required for public building tenders. Then, by 26th July 2019, this will also be compulsory for civil work and infrastructure public competitions. For their part, some of the big new developers that have emerged after the crisis have started to request architectural projects for their new residential developments in BIM.

Despite the already urgent need for the methodology to be adopted by all agents in the sector, the adaptation is happening unevenly. According to a recent study by the consultancy firm Ibermática, 85% of the construction and promotion companies still don’t use BIM regularly. Logically, this is much more pressing amongst SMEs, with the larger companies being the ones who have adapted most to the change. Architectural and engineering firms are also slightly more ahead, and have been the forward line in adopting BIM within the Spanish business framework.

For its part, the equipment industry isn’t external to this technological change, since a BIM project demands the incorporation of constructive elements used as BIM models, which can be transformed into usable formats by the infrastructure operators. In other words, the manufacturers must “translate” their product catalogues to the BIM system, which requires a large investment effort. According to the survey carried out last year by Alimarket, 45% of the equipment companies already had all or part of their catalogue in BIM files. A large part of them are subsidiaries of foreign multinational companies, that have taken the road to adaptation to BIM on a corporate level. In fact, the bigger the company and the more resources, the bigger the level of implementation of new BIM formats.

By sectors, electrical equipment and heating and air conditioning seem to be the furthest ahead in this field. Slightly behind are bathroom fixtures and fittings, metallic carpentry and plumbing, emerging as sectors which have a large number of catalogues in BIM format. In contrast, other segments such as prefabs, wood, paint and bricks still have a long way to go.

Alimarket Construcción