Reality check on BIM implementation

Reality check on BIM implementation

I regularly get great reading tips from my colleague Thorsten Hertel, an application manager at Tekla. This time about the challenges of BIM implementation. Robert Green on Cadalyst writes about having "the BIM truth talk with your boss" . Even though BIM is here to become the standard process for the industry, it's good to take a reality check on what needs to be considered first.

Here are some highlights of the article, "which any of us can utilize in any process with our potential clients," says Thorsten.

What BIM is not
BIM is not a 2D CAD upgrade. You won't install BIM tools on your AutoCAD users' desktops and have them in BIM right afterwards. BIM is a different way of working that requires 3D modeling and building systems knowledge. BIM is not drafting; BIM is electronic architecture and engineering.

BIM doesn't design buildings. Architects and engineers design buildings. BIM tools merely assist them in doing so. There is no magic "Design" button.

BIM tools don't manage themselves. BIM tools typically function in workgroup environments where everyone in the team is accessing the building model. This means you can't have everyone keep their own version of the project; the building models must be networked and managed, and this does not happen automatically. To use a 2D CAD analogy, think about a team managing a project with an extensive amount of networked shared XREF files, and you begin to get the picture of how a BIM project works.

BIM isn't learned over a weekend. Using BIM tools is very different than 2D CAD, in terms of both learning the commands and adjusting to a different way of working. BIM is a culture shock to team members who've been using 2D CAD tools for years, and the reality is that the learning curves are measured in months, not days.

Reality check
Make management see reality. It isn't as easy, cheap, or fast as advertising may imply. Get management aligned with scheduling requirements. BIM will require training, test projects, and months or years of effort to implement. Get management prepared financially. Software and training costs money — money that must be budgeted and approved by senior management.

Basic BIM requirements
More software. Software that costs more than AutoCAD or Microstation. Better hardware. Don't expect to perform transient energy balance computations for a multistory office building on a 4-year-old single-core computer.

Training. Your company didn't replace the drafting board with 2D CAD overnight, and you won't make the leap to BIM overnight either.

Standards management. Getting BIM implemented will require you to reinvent the standards and procedures you use today with new processes that work in BIM environments. This will take work and planning; it won't just happen automatically.

A new attitude. To make BIM a success, everyone — from CAD operator to chief architect — will have to change how they work. It will require learning, patience, and a can-do attitude from everyone for BIM to work.

Part 2 on the Truth Talk from June is now available at Cadalyst. If you're interersted in a case story about implementing BIM to precast concrete, go read how Strängbeton did it in Sweden.