BIM: Why It Matters So Much

  You might have heard the term BIM, either in our articles, in passing, in a conversation, or maybe you use BIM on your construction projects. In the last decade, a lot of changes have been on the horizon in the construction sector. The digitalization of the industry, and constant update on new ways to get and use data on the market. The most popular has to be Building Information Modelling (BIM). Some of our readers are not yet BIM enabled, and not considering implementing BIM in their operations in the near future. I don’t think this article will change the way you do business, let’s be realistic, but I hope that it will make you consider planning to implement the technology. Building Smarter Building Information Modelling  is , in essence, a methodology. It is a method of communication present throughout the building process, from the pre-construction phase, to the post-construction services. In its ideal form, it seeks to eliminate the need for Requests for Information (RFIs).  It

: Embracing Technology

 


Times are changing for us in construction. Whereas conventional processes and operations were used for decades, a technological wave is finally getting to the construction industry. To understand why more and more companies are shifting their strategies to adopt more technologies in the last year than the previous 20, we must first learn of the impacts of COVID-19 and the effect it had on the global construction industry, in a somewhat domino effect:

Pandemic Impacts on the Construction Industry

With multiple countries forced into confinement, companies struggled to continue projects.

Supply Chain Disruption

With the global pandemic and sanitary measures such as countries confinement and lockdown, the supply of materials and tools was delayed. Remember not too long ago how expensive wood panels were? This global disruption of materials coming and going created a shortage of raw materials, although homeowners’ demand for renovation increased. Result: the highest prices you probably have ever seen for a 2×4 wood piece.

Article “Does Money Grow on Trees? Why is Lumber so Expensive?”


Economic Crisis

Construction cycles are closely linked to the country’s economic conditions. As sanitary measures were put in place, companies had decreased revenues, forcing workers into quarantine and slowing current projects.

Skilled Labour Shortage

Countries’ measures may have rendered some workers unable to work as public transportation was restricted and schools were closed. With non-essential work halted, some employers lay off workers to survive. Older skilled workers may also have profited from the pandemic and retired early with the monthly stimulus. Moreover, migrant workers were asked to return home with the pandemic measures. Delayed projects and shortage of equipment & materials have caused companies to run low on profitability, and some were forced to lay off workers to survive.

According to data from AGC, 40% of construction firms have had to lay off staff due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
AGC
Source
  • 80% of contractors can’t find the workers they need
  • In 20 years, there’s been a 1% increase in productivity
"Though the number of jobs available since 2017 in the construction sector has increased, the number of new hires has gone up by less than 10%. This is likely due to the skills gap since the construction industry now requires familiarity with digital technologies like BIM. "

Construction 4.0: the Long-Term Solution

Companies and contractors had to rely on digital platforms to continue collaborating and working while some were at home and others on site. Software and tablets were beneficial and necessary assets to optimize collaboration & coordination.

When projects deemed essential were kept going, and workers were allowed to continue coming onsite, contractors needed a way to ensure safety for everyone, even while being away. Wearable technology was one of the solutions as hard hats’ integrated camera and GPS kept an eye on job site conditions. There also was the use of thermal sensors on workers to keep track of their temperature to avoid COVID-19 contagion.
The construction sector has also been evolving, catching up with the rest of the employment sector in digitalization. More and more software is created to manage projects and collaboration. With the pandemic, even safety software is used more and more to ensure safety guidelines are followed: for sanitary purposes but also safety reasons, as the construction industry registers many incidents, minor and fatal, every year.

To address the current skilled labor shortage, companies are beginning to turn to the various technologies designed for the construction industry. This collaboration of workers’ expertise and tool’s precision is a productive affair and will help with deadlines and accuracy.

Rising Above the Wave

First adopters are already using technologies and investing in strategies that involve technology. And the positive feedback is excellent news for the future of the construction industry. Technologies like BIM and construction software help communicate project information and coordinate critical schedule tasks, from design to construction, whereas wearable technology and camera surveillance will help safety in the field. It will also solve long-term issues that were exacerbated by the pandemic, such as labor shortage and bidding competition.

 

  • 70% of contractors believe that advanced technologies can increase productivity (78%), improve schedule (75%), and enhance safety (79%). [USG + U.S. Chamber of Commerce]
  • Within 10 years, full-scale. digitalization could lead to savings between $0.7-1.2 trillion in the Design & Engineering and Construction phases and $0.3-0.5 trillion in the Operations phase [World Economic Forum] .

Suppose you’ve just begun to understand technology’s impact on the construction industry. In that case, we suggest our article Why is digitalization so important for construction companies? for a deep-dive in the subject. If you’re interested in learning more about digitalization in construction and its most famous tool, BIM, we also have an article that covers it here