The times they are a’changin. This line from a 60s Bob Dylan song has never been more appropriate than in the 21st century. With technology growing by leaps and bounds every day, we may sometimes feel it’s about to roll over top of us and keep on going, leaving us in the dust. This is reflected in the trends that are affecting every aspect of construction.
In the online article by City Electric Supply, “Top 10 Trends in the Electrical Industry in 2020,” the following market influencing trends were listed as drivers for the coming decade:
- Energy Demand
- Energy Reduction
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Storage
- Grid Parity
- BIM (building information modeling)
- Distributed Energy Resources
- Smart Cities
- IoT and 5G
- LED Popularity
BIM is one of these key trends shaping the electrical market and driving it forward.
Compared to mechanical, the electrical segment of the specialty trades has been slow to adopt BIM processes. Companies can sometimes be hesitant to adopt new technology because of an anticipated decline in productivity. The software-as-a-service eVolve Electrical can help electrical detailers more easily make the transition to BIM using Autodesk Revit. It automates processes like spooling, kitting, routing, hanger placement and working with conduit bends.
Electrical Contractor magazine published an article in 2009 that stated, “Electrical contractors may be the last to embrace BIM, but it is not for lack of interest.” Eleven years later, that adoption still lags behind mechanical. This is despite the acknowledgment of BIM converts like David Morris, with EMCOR, affirming that there is a “real cost savings in materials prefabrication” and value in knowing that once something is modeled it’s sure to be constructible. This assessment was echoed by Adam Heon in the recent MEP Masterminds virtual event, “Prefabrication.” Morris also explained how useful BIM is for checking conflicts, electrical distribution, energy usage, and coordinating spaces shared with mechanical equipment.
BIM enables contractors to visualize the entire construction process and their part in it before the project starts. The BIM process can employ virtual technology to show buildings, roads, utilities, and underlying infrastructure.
Using BIM, electrical contractors can get an accurate estimate of material quantities, and by getting better estimates of the project schedule, can even refine the timing of when those materials are needed. With BIM, everyone involved on the construction project is able to experience less waste in time and materials, more sustainability and a significant long-term return on investment.
Beyond the construction project, modeling can predict and even influence how a building will age, allowing architects and engineers to recommend the materials that will hold up best over the long-term life of a project.
Maybe the bane of existence for some contractors are the projects where new or modified electrical equipment needs to be installed in an existing building. Some would say this is the perfect time to discover what was done wrong the first time. But on the bright side, subcontractors can use the BIM process to troubleshoot any problems that arise during a retrofit and decide what needs to be done differently to ensure the project’s success. On the retrofit job, working through BIM helps contractors identify, for example, areas where energy consumption can be improved or ways to improve energy efficiency going forward. In that respect, the times they are a’changin for the better.
As you adapt to your industry’s changes, choose a technology partner that knows your industry firsthand. The experts of eVolve MEP have worked in the construction trades, so they know the challenges you face and the innovations that can make a difference.