The construction industry is rapidly going digital, with BIM becoming an important part of it. BIM is allowing more intelligent use of resources and optimization of workflows, leading to productivity and profitability. The benefits that BIM offers to construction are limitless, but even then the adoption is not happening at the pace desired.
BIM adoption is seeing an increasing trend as more and more decision-makers are able to understand how by virtually prototyping the building to be constructed, they can review the design more easily, achieve more accuracy in construction and if need be, evaluate alternatives in terms of cost and other parameters. However, a few challenges limit the permeation.
We wonder why even after so much of gung-ho, BIM is not becoming the necessary ingredient for all construction projects. A few challenges are acting as barriers, we believe.
So, what’s limiting the adoption?
The five major factors that are mainly affecting BIM adoption in construction include: difficulty in changing people’s habits, limited relevancy, interoperability issues, limited budgets and slack in following operating standards.
Resistance in changing habits
We all are aware of the saying, ‘old habits die hard’. This holds true in case of BIM adoption as well. The inclusion of BIM in the construction process requires the people involved to get acquainted with the new technologies and get trained in them so that they can use them effectively. This calls for additional efforts and coming out of comfort zones, and thus is faced by resistance. Most of the people involved in the construction industry have reached a certain age where they lack the enthusiasm to adopt new methods, even if they seem promising. This resistance to change old habits limits the adoption of BIM in construction.
Not enough budget
This issue particularly affects small and medium organizations (SMOs). Adoption of BIM involves high implementation fee and training costs, which includes the cost of hiring experts, training the existing workforce and making an investment in new technologies. The SMOs often do not have enough budgets to meet these additional expenditures. Cost considerations often take over and organizations prefer to follow traditional methods as the associated costs are known and easily managed for. The organizations often fail to realize the long-term savings that adoption of BIM in construction brings and limit their vision to short-term cost and benefit comparisons.
According to Mark Bew, Chair of the BIM Working Group, UK Government, “Standards play an important role in ensuring the wider adoption of BIM technologies, processes and collaboration by ensuring the same accurate data can be accessed throughout the supply chain.” Standards ensure continuity for the project and provide the project owner with the format they desire. They also have a big impact on productivity and ensure that the overall BIM implementation is sustainable and consistent. However, some project coordinators or owners fail to establish and enforce these standards diligently, and sometimes even end up referring to their own standards, creating complications and fallacies.
AFUL interoperability working group defines Interoperability as, “Interoperability is a characteristic of a product or system, whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, present or future, in either implementation or access, without any restrictions.” Software interoperability provides the customers freedom to switch from one product to another while keeping the data intact after the transfer. Since construction engages numerous stakeholders, it is necessary to have the project data represented in a common interpretable form, such that it can be accurately exchanged among different computer systems and platforms. However, BIM suffers from interoperability issues, which limits its adoption in the industry. Most of the software programs were originally developed to work as standalone applications and are not typically designed to share data with other programs. Different tools would normally have their proprietary data structures and often do not provide means of linking their database through a standard, which creates the biggest challenge to interoperability. These issues must be addressed to make BIM a preferred choice among stakeholders in the construction industry.
An important factor that is limiting the growth of BIM adoption in construction is its inability to create value in the minds of small and medium-sized organizations. Most of them feel it is irrelevant. 71% of small firms feel that BIM simply isn’t applicable, or appropriate, to the nature of their typical workload. They feel their projects are not complex enough to need BIM.
Construction firms may feel confident that even without adopting BIM they are well-off, but soon this bubble will burst. BIM brings in cost efficiencies, increases the speed of delivery and profitability. The experiences of those who have adopted BIM confirm that the change is worthwhile and those who will resist the change will be left behind.