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Challenges for Building Product Manufacturers in Adopting BIM

Bhushan Avsatthi
May 19, '17 11:27 AM EST
Challenges for Building Product Manufacturers in Adopting BIM
Challenges for Building Product Manufacturers in Adopting BIM

Building product manufacturers today are facing the unavoidable BIM storm, which requires them to develop product data in a standardized format as a part of requirements from contractors who follow BIM processes for construction projects.

It is becoming increasingly challenging for manufacturers to maintain a library of BIM objects and that too with required meta-data, as each new project has its own set of data requirements. But doing nothing is equally risky, as without BIM-ready models the chances of architects/designers picking the manufacturer’s product in their designs are less, affecting the revenues eventually.

The problem is equally worse for manufacturers who have already adopted BIM, and have informative models in place to be utilized in the construction design project, as there is still lot of ambiguity in the amount of data architects, contractors or operators ask for.

BIM promoters came up with a solution to this issue – Product Data Templates (PDTs). The template is nothing but a form that consists of standardized headings against which product manufacturing information has to be placed. This template can then be utilized by the contractor to select the required data for attributing the objects in the model. But that is not solving the purpose either.

Institutes like The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) did develop standardized PDTs, considering IFC properties and inputs from industry experts to choose the attributes to be included, and, so did NBS. But these PDTs aren’t the same. Norway’s coBuilder further added more than 700 PDTs based on IFC, considering the attributes required for Construction Product Regulations (CPR).

Now, manufacturers are asked that the BIM object they have developed is not enough, and they also need to provide PDT. But the problem is that there are 3 different types of PDT! 

These issues leave manufacturers in a tight spot for choosing the right BIM-data hosting service provider, as each of them demand data in different format. As an example, the length of steel beam could be under the “length” field for one provider and could be under “total length” for the other. This difference leads to discrepancies and causes miscommunication across the supply chain while comparing the products.

What is the Solution?

The only solution to this is product data standardization through common naming convention, and to address the issue, institutes like the CPA, BRE, BIM4M2 and coBuilder are working on the concept called LEXiCON. This web-based tool will ensure that the industry has one standard PDT for each product type, ensuring accuracy in data as well as more clarity for building product manufacturers in developing BIM content.

Building product manufacturers however need to be more informed about choosing the right BIM-data hosting provider to ensure that their products are getting noticed by the audiences they are looking to target.

It is inevitable for manufacturers to adopt BIM, as contractors increasingly see the potential cost and time savings in their construction projects. There is however concern on what and how much data to be incorporated in the BIM objects, posing a challenge for manufacturers. But efforts toward standardization are already taking place.

A single uniform standard on adding attributes to BIM objects and specific PDTs for specific products will align the existing ambiguity, and provide a collaborative supply chain that BIM Level 2 actually promises.

About Author:

Bhushan Avsatthi is an Associate Director at Hi-Tech iSolutions LLP. Bhushan imbibes the prophecy of efficient and prudent use of energy in his day to day life and advice's his team to do so as well. He is also involved in green initiatives like nonprofit tree plantation project and promotes using cycles for commuting small distances. Bhushan, handles a team of architects, Structural and MEP engineers, LEED consultants and Energy modeling experts.