BIM to the Rescue: The Construction Waterfall on the Horizon

by | Jul 30, 2020 | All

It’s widely predicted that the pandemic disruption will give way to a construction boom that was already in the making before 2020. While the work promises to be plentiful, the schedules also promise to be short and the budgets tight. Building information modeling (BIM) and prefabrication processes are two bright spots in the coming onslaught.

In the eSub webinar Why Here, Why Now, Jeff Sample, Director of Strategic Accounts at eSub, discussed expanding “power to the trades” and “leaning into the industry” with Sal D’Ambrosia, Jonathan Marsh, and Ralph Kreider. Jeff explained that eSub is really about improving partnerships. “We’re not going to get through this pandemic without each other,” he said. “I think that’s a unique opportunity for us.”

Sal, Director of Construction Technology at Wm. Blanchard Co., offered a look into the current state of BIM itself: “Honestly, I think it’s stagnant right now,” he said. “We’re past 3D and 2D fight that we had for the longest time. Now we see it in contracts, but that’s sort of where it stops. The trades are doing what the contract asks them to do, and it stops right there. They’re not using the data in the model; they’re not using the tools. We’re flattening a robust, data-filled model… and building it the same way we did in 1990.”

Modular construction and prefab, Sal suggested, have the ability to change this for the better. “You could almost turn this into ‘social distancing’ construction,” he said. “This is the perfect opportunity to use some of that. We shouldn’t be going back to an old way just because we can’t adapt to the new way. Rather than telling somebody to go on unemployment, [you can bring them] back in to learn certain things.”

Jonathan, CEO of Steel Toe Consulting, agreed: “We have the perfect excuse to go digital,” he said. “Right now, physical drawings are not a good thing. I think people want a hybrid – to keep the old stuff and have the new stuff too. That works sometimes, but a big percentage of the time you have to can the old stuff to pick up the new stuff.”

Ralph, Project Solutions Manager at Harkins Builders, added that contractors have a ways to go in harnessing the power of BIM in their toolkit. His suggestion was that BIM technology needs to be democratized and  accessible to everyone. However, although the benefits are countless, the process of adoption is never easy. Check-ins and check-ups with both the software and coworkers are essential to successful adoption of BIM processes.

“We have to take this opportunity,” Jeff said. “We have to take it as trade partners, as general contractors. The ones who are really going to shine after this experience are the ones who strengthen their partnerships, digitize more and come together.” In Jeff’s estimation, when the construction industry comes out of this disruption, companies are going to experience a “waterfall” of construction. “The only way we’re going to be able to keep up is with building information technology,” he said.

The MEP Force 2020 all-virtual event will be held August 31 to September 2. Register today for MEP Force, where you can gain a competitive edge in fabrication and prefabrication. Autodesk’s Queen of Prefab Amy Marks will be the featured keynote speaker. Then choose from over 75 breakout sessions where you can learn from other industry leaders about new technology trends that are affecting your business.

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