Whenever I discuss project BIM work flow and supplier integration I hear the same response time after time: “Our suppliers have only just started using CAD…” If this is the case are we to accept that BIM is effectively by-passing a huge part of the delivery team? I accept that many smaller contractors do not have the need to document their activity but what about those that do? Is BIM just another fad for the main contractor to worry about?
There is one fact for sure and that is BIM is here to stay. Sooner or later BIM will start to filter down the supply chain until all but the sole trader will have an input during a project. Sub-contractors have a key part to play in developing an accurate representation of a facility during design and construction. They can benefit from the productivity gains others enjoy using the technology if only they would be willing to step up to the plate and swing.
There are new tools out there that are designed to allow even the smallest sub-trade to model their part of a job, then document, schedule, analyse and review the result. Indeed some of these tools are currently free issue with the specific intent of attracting the everyone to the BIM party.
Do not allow BIM to pass you by. As a sub-contractor if you are required to produce a drawing on a project you should be looking at BIM seriously. Very soon your work stream could be affected by your inability to plug-in and join the party.
I believe there are benefits from day one of a BIM project. It just depends on how quickly subcontractors can work the collaboration activity to their benefit. After the fact, if they are involved with long-term building maintenance, as an HVAC contractor might be, they can be the custodians of the model for the building owner and monitor certain aspects of maintenance and system operations over time.