The construction sector in the UK has gone through some tough times of late and companies all over the country are looking to the latest innovation that will help to restore confidence.
Building information modelling (BIM) is quickly becoming the must-have tool within the construction industry with firms on both sides of the Atlantic beginning to benefit from this planning technique. The technology allows companies to expertly map out how the structure is going to be built before the first brick is laid.
It is integral in helping to foresee any potential problems that may arise when work does eventually get underway. Firms hope that this technique will help to save valuable man hours as well avoiding cutting into budgets.
BIM works by using 3D visualisations which allows contractors to see what issue will come with the construction process of creating a structure. The tool is becoming increasingly in the UK's building sector and this is regarded as a key factor in improving productivity.
However, this popularity is now transferring over to the US with firms on the other side of the pond now putting increased faith into BIM to help with major development projects.
McGraw-Hill Construction's latest SmartMarket Report, "The Business Value of BIM in North America: Multi-Year Trend Analysis and User Ratings (2007–2012)", revealed that there had been a surge in the number of US companies adopting BIM over the past five years. The research noted that adoption had grown from 17 per cent in 2007 to a massive 71 per cent in 2012. This was all set against very challenging economic pressures that had affected the industry.
The report explains that owners are now becoming the driving force behind the increased adoption rates of BIM. Officials also noted that due to the technology's ability to create an innovative approach to design and construction, more and more firms are looking to it as a necessity. McGraw-Hill believes that it is now becoming engrained into the mainstream of the US' construction industry.
Stephen Jones, senior director at McGraw-Hill Construction and research director of the report, said: "Though it may seem counterintuitive to increase spending during a recession, the research indicates that the industry is continuing to invest in a more efficient and productive future by embracing technologies and processes of BIM."
Among the respondents to the survey, 13 per cent that used BIM demonstrated a very high engagement level (e-level) which requires an expert skill set and five or more years of experience. It also needs the implementation of BIM on over 60 per cent of their projects. A further 52 per cent of e-level users experienced a surge in profits following the introduction of BIM to their line of work.
"The results 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," Phil Bernstein, vice president, strategic industry relations at Autodesk, added.
The US is mirroring the impact BIM is having on the UK with a plethora of companies already adopting the practice for their own operations. A number of major contractors have already begun implementing the technology to help with the construction of a number of developments, namely United House which is aiming to create a £56.7 million mixed-use in Islington through BIM.
The UK government has also been keen to put the country at the forefront at construction firms using this technology. A paper published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in late 2012 outlined 12 key point which can help the UK become a world leader when it came to implementing BIM.
It explained: "Other countries are rapidly adopting BIM; we need to progress with the adoption of BIM or these markets will begin to close to UK businesses as countries look for home grown expertise or source its skills and capabilities from elsewhere in the world.
"The threat is at its greatest from dynamic emerging markets, where competition is able to 'leapfrog' using innovative technologies and ways of working."
Following on from this, the government launched BIM 2050 in January 2013 which aims to bring together young professionals working within the construction industry. It will encompass every type of role within the industry from architects, engineers, contractor, legal professionals and surveyors.
Chloe Smith, parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office, explains that the country had already saved the taxpayer £179 million by cutting out waste and BIM will provide the best form of solution to any needs that the construction sector may face in the coming years.
The 2050 Group has already met and looked at the priorities which it wants to achieve going forward. The key areas that were highlighted were education and skills, developing a culture of integration and exploiting new technologies. The move is set to allow BIM adoption to flourish and teach newcomers to the sector the importance of using this construction tool in the creation of new projects across the nation.
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