Graeme Forbes of Clearbox discusses digital construction and the benefits of having confidence to use BIM in the construction process
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
The above quote seems pretty appropriate for the AEC industry at the moment. Everyone seems to agree that digital construction is the way forward, but we’re still struggling with adoption rates and realising the efficiencies that are available to us.
There’s a behavioural change that needs to happen across the industry to embrace a new way of thinking in order to successfully manage the delivery of our objectives.
While there are many examples of key tasks that can be delivered more effectively using BIM processes, there remains significant frustration and a lack of confidence as to how our processes align and work with technology, and this has created a lack of confidence right through the supply chain which needs to be overcome to achieve the true collaboration and information sharing that will transform the industry’s productivity and efficiency.
So what’s stopping you?
Whatever your approach, digital empowers businesses to be more accurate and more efficient, and can facilitate the removal of waste, be that physical or process. But the opportunity of what you can realise is about you, your approach, your leadership and the commercial framework you work under.
The value a digital approach can bring is influenced by many factors at each phase of a project. The value can appear as a simple cost saving or as a benefit to reducing risk or realising greater opportunity, or simply by allowing tasks to be done quicker with or without a better outcome.
Invariably it is about simpler, more predictable business.
With the direct cost of enablement running at 0.2 – 0.5% of the project cost and the value created running in excess of 5% of the project cost, the commercial opportunity, if you have the resources and the tools to realise the outcome, are significant in an industry often only making 2-3%. While we’ve got some general rules based on our experience of using these methods on our own software and seeing the savings our customers are making, we are conscious that conclusively and unequivocally evidencing these savings remains complex.
So, how do we go about solving the lack of adoption?
If you believe in what you’re doing, we believe the right thing to do is to look at a managed risk approach. This is not about taking on the risk as much as it is a more managed approach to that risk. Historically, we aim to pass the risk down the supply chain but at the same time simply expect some new utopia to be delivered, or leave insufficient time to deliver the improved outcome we want and expect. If you’re using your tools correctly and have confidence in the information that you’re producing on your projects, you should now feel comfortable taking on that risk and proving that BIM works…after all, risk and opportunity are extremes of the same core challenge, managing the level of uncertainty.
Changing your approach is, of course, much easier when you have confidence in the ROI that you will achieve and you value the outcome rather than the simplicity of the completion. It’s also easier to get the supply chain on board when they clearly understand the benefits and the ROI they themselves could achieve.
The savings are tangible and can be proved not only to you but also to the supply chain.
A managed risk approach is dominant in the process sectors and was dominant in the heady days of Construction Management in the 80s, or in the fully detailed design preferred by some Clients. But a combination of the technology and the new opportunity from BIM may well see such approaches return to the fore. For us, it was something we did years ago when our team directly delivered projects across the pharmaceutical sector. However, in those days the outcome, the content of the project, the surety of the time line and the continuous improvement mattered to owner occupier clients. That is not to imply that such outcomes don’t matter now, it is just that there is a more short-term focus on the result to the detriment of a focus on the process which delivers it.
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Please note: this is a commercial profile