As BIM adoption grows cabling joins in

Early this year McGraw-Hill Construction released what it dubs a Smart Market Report on building information modeling (BIM), which indicated the adoption of BIM within the construction industry grew ...

From the October, 2013 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

A report shows surging use of building information modeling by construction professionals, and cabling manufacturers are increasingly joining the ranks.

by Patrick McLaughlin

Early this year McGraw-Hill Construction released what it dubs a Smart Market Report on building information modeling (BIM), which indicated the adoption of BIM within the construction industry grew from 17 percent in 2007 to 71 percent in 2012. "The Business Value of BIM in North America: Multi-Year Trend Analysis and User Ratings (2007-2012)" indicated the technology "demonstrated impressive growth despite the recent economic pressures," McGraw-Hill Construction said when announcing the report's availability.

The organization's senior director, and research director of this report, Stephen Jones, commented, "Though it may seem counterintuitive to increase spending during a recession, the research indicates that the industry is continuing to invest in a more productive future by embracing technologies and processes of BIM." The report states that property owners are becoming an important driving force to increased adoption. Phil Bernstein is vice president of strategic industry relations at BIM provider Autodesk (www.autodesk.com), which sponsored the McGraw-Hill Construction report. Of the report's findings, he said, "The results of the survey validate many key trends we are seeing in North America--notably, the strong growth of BIM in construction and adoption amongst owners, architects and engineers. The results also point to the increased business benefits that all users derived from using BIM, such as better profits, more-accurate documentation, less rework, reduced project duration, fewer claims and the ability to offer new services."

The 72-page report can be downloaded free of charge from analyticsstore.construction.com.

The report includes data the researcher compiled to quantify users' level of commitment to BIM, which it calls the BIM Engagement Index. It combines a user's skill level, years of experience with BIM, and percentage of their projects that use BIM to determine that engagement level or e-level. Through those calculations, McGraw-Hill Construction found that 13 percent of BIM users demonstrated a very high BIM engagement level, defined by expert skill level, five or more years of experience, and implementation of BIM on more than 60 percent of projects. Of those very high e-level users, two-thirds report a very positive return-on-investment on BIM, which is categorized as 25 percent or higher ROI. By contrast, 20 percent of low e-level BIM users report a very positive BIM ROI. Two-thirds of low e-level users are at break-even or negative BIM ROI. Looking across all users, 36 percent experience increased profits from their use of BIM. Just more than half--52 percent--of high e-level users enjoy increased profits from BIM use.

We reported last year on the BIM concept and some detail about its use in the cabling profession ("Building information modeling and structured cabling," July 2012). As we reported then, the availability of cabling products in BIM packages is largely up to individual product manufacturers. Manufacturers must create files of their products that are compatible with the BIM package(s) of their choice.

These manufacturers are not necessarily on their own creating these files; development services are available. One firm providing such services, InView Labs (www.inviewlabs.com), recently announced its work with three companies in the cabling arena to develop such files. In August it announced the completion of BIM files for Thomas and Betts products including floor boxes, fiber trays, ladder trays and others. Also that month, InView Labs announced the completion and release of BIM content for Legrand's ITray system products. When that announcement was made, Legrand's director of marketing and product development Bob Crain had praise for InView Labs as well as the capabilities of BIM files. "InView Labs has been great to work with," he commented. "They took the time to learn about our products, listen to how our customers use the products and then combine their knowledge of building design and Revit tools to develop intuitive BIM models that work with the designer, not against him."

In July InView announced a working arrangement with TE Connectivity. In the announcement it stated, "TE Connectivity has agreed to pursue a business opportunity with InView Labs to create a comprehensive BIM implementation strategy that includes an extensive library of high-quality content for use in the Autodesk Revit design application. InView Labs will be creating content for TE Connectivity's copper patch panels, fiber-optic connectivity products, raceway systems, and server racks and cabinet products as well as several additional product lines."

The McGraw-Hill Construction report indicated that of the study participants who do not use BIM, 33 percent said a reason for their non-adoption was the insufficient availability of BIM-compatible content. The report also zeroed in on contractors' non-use of BIM, and said that one in five non-using contractors do not understand what BIM does.

The six-year period covered in the McGraw-Hill Construction study shows the population of non-BIM users declining. Contractors unfamiliar with BIM and manufacturers without BIM files of their products are becoming a shrinking minority. ::

Patrick McLaughlin is our chief editor.

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