How do manufacturers support BIM?


Chris Ashworth, Chair of BIM4M2 promotional working group discusses the results of a recent survey that highlights some concerns with manufacturers in the use of BIM

In a recent survey ‘Adoption of BIM by Architects’ we asked architects about the level of support they received from manufacturers in the use of BIM. Only 17% said they had any difficulties, which is good news. But sadly only 37% could name a manufacturer that they considered provided good content and support to users of BIM.

It is difficult for the manufacturer to know what support they should provide as the industry is quite polarised in its requirements. Should they provide content as Industry Foundation Class (IFC), proprietary software, Product Data Templates (PDTs), COBie or even bother at all?

For those who don’t want to take the BIM journey, it is important to establish if their products are required as BIM content. Almost half of architects say they do not require BIM for all products. We listed 14 different product categories, and while some are more important than others, there were no clear categories where BIM is not required.

The industry is still learning to use BIM, and even the leading architects we interviewed, all of whom have been using BIM for some time, send out mixed messages on everything from the format required, to file size and where to host objects.

This is possibly because they are using BIM in different ways. More than half have their own standard design modules and keep a library of BIM objects. Many of these do not need a BIM object from the manufacturer, just the data which they use with their own geometry. So in this instance PDTs are probably fine, although only a relatively small proportion said they required PDTs from manufacturers. But is that because they are a recent introduction and still being developed by the industry?

Another challenge is where to host. The logical place to locate objects is the manufacturer’s website alongside all of the other technical information such as specifications and data sheets. And indeed that is where the majority of respondents first look. But when we asked them about their preferred location, the BIM hosting sites are more popular. This seems illogical, but perhaps it is influenced by other factors.

Many manufacturers, having noted an object download, will phone the architect to follow-up and secure the specification. Perhaps in the same way that some architects are reluctant to register on a manufacturer’s website to gain access to technical data, they would rather avoid the sales process triggered by downloading a BIM object.

A key aspect of BIM is encouraging collaboration and new ways of working. This is relevant to not only the project team, but the manufacturer. It is to be hoped that BIM will enable greater collaboration with manufacturers at an earlier stage in the design process, but manufacturers also need to think about how they engage with the project team.

If you are a manufacturer, the BIM4M2 group would appreciate your feedback on how you are responding to the BIM challenge. Please complete the group’s online survey. In appreciation you will get a discount off the purchase of Competitive Advantage’s latest report ‘Adoption of BIM by Architects’.

Chris Ashworth

Managing Director of Competitive Advantage

Chair of BIM4M2 promotional working group


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here