NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry

Dan Walter Sees the Future: BIM on Every Project

Posted on Aug 02, 2011 by Dan Walter

NECA Transmissions features posts from CEO John Grau and other NECA staff and leaders about industry projects or issues they are following. Today's post comes from Dan Walter.

Building Information Modeling has been around for a while, starting with 2D CAD and continually evolving as better software and hardware became available. But, 2011 might be the so-called tipping point -- the point where using BIM on construction projects is the rule, not the exception. Up to now, BIM has been used on big jobs, design-build jobs, or demonstration projects. BIM software and the computers needed to run it is expensive. Not every construction contractor, general or sub, could afford to buy it. The fact that different projects required different software didn’t make it any easier to get into BIM.

BIM requirements are showing up on more traditional delivery systems like design-bid-build. Clash-detection features inherent in BIM allow for the discovery of problems much sooner than they would have been discovered in the field using traditional layout techniques and field engineering. And the better coordination that results from using BIM can mean shorter schedules and fewer claims. Everyone benefits when projects run more smoothly.

But as BIM is required on more projects, some new questions arise. Questions like, "how many iterations should an electrical contractor be expected to perform as part of the base bid?" Or, "at what point does solving the interferences identified by clash detection become redesign?"

The second edition of The National BIM Standard – United States has been released by the buildingSMART alliance for a 30-day public-comment period; it’s scheduled to be published later this year. This version includes best practices and guidelines. NECA is a member of the buildingSMARTalliance, and a NECA member sits on the board.

The current BIM standard doesn’t address the questions posed here, but NECA is actively working with other industry stakeholder to get answers to these questions. I am active in a coalition that includes members from NECA, the Mechanical Contractors Association of American (MCAA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) to determine how contactors might respond to these questions. The enthusiasm expressed by the participants for this effort is clear, our contractors and the industry will benefit from their efforts.

The industry is just beginning to see the benefits that BIM can provide. And, I believe that when everyone benefits from the advantages provided by BIM, BIM will be used on every project.

About NECA Transmissions

NECA Transmissions is a collaborative effort from CEO John Grau and NECA staff to provide insight and feedback on key issues from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry.

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