It is without doubt that the AEC industry is changing and it’s a good thing that it is. One of the centrepieces of this change is a rather widely known term, BIM. With such a focal point there is a great deal of confusion and contradiction around everything from understanding BIM, to successfully delivery projects at certain levels of it. With a role that requires me to explain BIM and its impact on businesses small and large, there is one fundamental that needs to be understood; we are on a BIM Escalator like it or not.
The BIM Escalator best explains the industry position right now. Whether through government mandates, client requirements or pressure from our competitors, we as an industry are having to change in our approach to projects adopting ever increasing amounts of BIM technology. These ‘amounts of technology’ are more categorically referred to as BIM Levels, 0 through to 3 have been largely defined, although the key focus is on moving to level 2 currently.
For the purpose of understanding the levels are well defined by NBS:
Level 0 – 2D drafting with no collaboration used only for production of information
Level 1 – Mixture of 3D concept work and 2D documentation for approval of information
Level 2 – Collaboration is the key, with information exchanged in either 3D or 2D formats throughout the production of that information
With most organisations at level 1 or less and the industry pressures as mentioned before, we are moving upwards towards level 2, with every single organisation within the AEC industry impacted. Considering this as the escalator, we therefore have a decision to make, of which there are three options.
As a business you are on the escalator, with increasing levels of knowledge, improving standards and a more clearly defined set of requirements you will over time develop into a BIM Level 2 compliant business. It may not happen overnight, but over the coming months or years, depending on organisation size, you will reach Level 2 simply by standing on the escalator.
Overwhelmed by the changing processes and new technologies, your business resists, instead wishing to continue doing things as you have done them for years previously. Expect to hear around the office such phrases as “We’ve been doing it like this for 20 years, why should we change?” Unfortunately, the situation you now find yourself in, is trying to walk back down the escalator that is moving against you. It will be a significant battle to continue working in the way you have before and you no longer have control of the direction you are actually moving in (towards Level 2). It will take you years to reach where the industry will have moved towards and yet you will have utilised far greater effort than those selecting Option 1 or Option 3.
Being on the escalator, you are now presented with an opportunity. While businesses around you are walking against the flow, or standing and slowly embracing the changes, you can walk up that escalator. Admittedly it will be daunting at the outset as you move from the majority to an early adopter and with this, a greater amount of learning will be required. However, this is an opportunity, it provides you the platform to become a market leader, to win contracts for your innovation and above all to streamline your processes.
With these options in mind, it is my question to any business; we are on the BIM Escalator, but it is down to you which option you choose.