How SMEs Can Increase Company Profits Through BIM

Throughout this article, I will be explaining how SMEs can increase their company profits through Building Information Modeling (BIM). 

One of the key things that keep the director of a construction company or senior partner of any construction consultancy awake at night, is how to increase the profitability of their firm. It’s crucial to keep a watchful eye on new developments in all operational techniques and systems applications that could minimise costs, maximise efficiency and give them an edge.

However, some observers are not so willing to change and readily embrace the new digital way of life that has been changing everything in the wider economy. It’s thought that this resistance to BIM stems from a lack of understanding from subcontractors. It is clear that the more effective company directors and senior partners who are quickest to understand and embrace the concept of BIM will ultimately be the winners. 


So, What Is BIM? 

Everyone in the industry is well acquainted with working with drawings, schedules, specifications, quantities and other information on a daily basis in the course of their duty. However, everyone from the employer to the architects, engineers, other designers, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers all generate their information almost in isolation, and in formats that suit their own unique requirements and purposes. 

Consequently, the construction process is riddled with clashes of uncoordinated drawn information between designers and misunderstandings by the contractors and subcontractors. The result? A construction process that is littered with waste, increased costs and extended delivery timescales. The finished building may have incorporated so many unintended variations that it may markedly be different from what was intended at the outset. All of this will naturally feed into defective information availability for facility management purposes.

Against this imperfect background, the concept of BIM simply aims to introduce a process involving the generation and management of a digital representation. A model of the physical and functional characteristics of the building in a format which can be exchanged or networked to support effective decision-making about the building during its life cycle. This will cover all work stages from Stage 0 Strategy → Stage1 Brief → Stage 2 Concept→ Stage 3 Definition→ Stage 4 Design→ Stage 5 Build & Commission →Stage 6 Handover & Close Out→ Stage 7 Operation & End of Life.


How Can A Subcontractor Implement BIM? 

Implementing BIM requires a culture change involving the employer, the professional consultants, the contractors and the entire supply chain to adopt an open and collaborative information-sharing mentality. For this to happen, a common and unified language for the production of construction information is essential, otherwise, the cost of participation would remain prohibitive and unjustifiable for many small companies. Given however that any reduction in construction costs will first feed into the contractor’s bottom line, contractors should view their share of BIM costs as an investment on which they will earn a return. 


Issues For Consideration

The employer will necessarily have to bear the greater cost of implementing BIM given that they are the ultimate beneficiary of the completed building. As such, the employer will need to appoint a BIM Project Manager at the very outset who will define the employer’s information requirements that will guide the entire process. Further, contractual provisions will have to be introduced into the professional services appointment of consultants as well as within the main and subcontract documentation.

Issues that are bound to arise down the line would include the protection of all aspects of information exchange, including storage and retrieval and how to secure for example the intellectual property in the information. Further, the security of the completed building, as well as its occupants, will also have to be considered given previous events such as Hatton Gardens jewellery, as well as the risk of sabotage and terrorism. 


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