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BIM for product manufacturers

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

The benefits of using #BIM in design and construction projects is well known in several countries and markets across the world. Nevertheless, this is not the case for #product #manufacturers and companies that are involved in the construction of buildings. One recent study of product manufacturers in the UK documented that only 58 per cent of manufacturers have adopted BIM, while 35 per cent plan to introduce BIM in the future (BIM4M2 Promotions Working Group, 2015-2016). The reasons stated for limited implementation are a lack of information and interest, and cost issues.

According to the research, the most important barriers for BIM product adoption in the UK are the lack of understanding of the importance of BIM, and the time and resources required to create a BIM object. Additional obstacles include the level of detail and information available as well as incompatibility issues with software.

Furthermore, another survey found that a third of UK manufacturers using BIM (32%) took that decision for marketing reasons, while 29 per cent stated technical reasons and only 27 per cent noted sales (BIM4M2, 2014).

The respondent familiarity survey in relation to BIM concepts and standards, such as product data templates, indicates that 38 per cent of participants are aware of BIM standards, 34 per cent understand these, but a very small percentage actually apply them (14%). Regarding the barriers to the adoption of BIM, most participants suggest that it is too expensive to develop (9%), there is no demand for BIM, (6.3%) or there is a lack of expertise in their company (6%).

BIM adoption product manufacturers BIM4M2
Familiarity with BIM concepts, Survey "BIM adoption for product maufacturers" BIM4M2

The National BIM report (NBS, 2016) revealed that 54 per cent of participants are currently using BIM, while 42 per cent are merely aware of BIM. Almost half of the respondents state that they are quite confident about BIM, while 23 per cent are neither confident nor unconfident. Nevertheless, 80 per cent of participants produce 2D drawings and 74 per cent work collaboratively with others in the design process. Some 70 per cent of the respondents produce 3D digital models, while 56 per cent share models with team members outside of the office.

Summary of barriers to adopt BIM. Survey "BIM adoption for product maufacturers" BIM4M2
Summary of barriers to adopt BIM. Survey "BIM adoption for product maufacturers" BIM4M2

What is a BIM object

Digital product information, also known as a #BIM #object, is the creation of a building product in a 3D format with associated technical data, converted into digital formats compatible with design software.

The National BIM Specification (NBS) defines the BIM object as a combination of several components, namely ‘it is detailed information that defines the product and geometry that represents the product’s physical characteristics. The visualisation data that gives the object a recognisable appearance and behavioural data, such as detection zones, enables the object to be positioned or to behave in exactly the same way as the product itself. There are two primary types of object: component and layered. The component objects are building products that have fixed geometrical shapes such as windows, doors, boilers etc. Layered objects are building products that do not have a fixed shape or size such as carpets, roofing, walls and ceilings’.

The NBS BIM Object Standard is one of the standards that is used to provide specifications and consistency for the creation of BIM objects. The standard defines requirements for BIM objects to provide reassurance of quality, to enable greater collaboration and to encourage information exchange across the construction industry.

The BIM object is mainly related to graphical data and performance issues. The BIM object information includes (some or all of the below):

  • Detailed dimensions

  • Function

  • Types (product variations)

  • Components

  • Material specifications

  • Structural performance

  • Fire rating

  • Carbon content

  • Cost data

  • Performance data

  • Maintenance issues

Benefits, Barriers and Challenges

BIM is rapidly being embraced by the construction industry and manufacturers are slowly becoming part of the process. It is very important for manufacturers to offer their objects in the correct format, at the appropriate stage of the design process and at the right level of detail. If the products can be delivered in BIM formats, then these can be used by the team and consequently increase object integration. When more products are available in the BIM format, this affords increased opportunities for product integration in the BIM process.

There is a variety of objects currently available in different BIM libraries. The National BIM and Autodesk Seek library are considered two of the most popular. Indeed, the UK survey of product manufacturers, also discussed above, found that 80 per cent of respondents provide BIM objects through their website, 30 per cent through the BIM store and 20 per cent use the National BIM library (BIM4M2 Promotions Working Group, 2015-2016).

These libraries are employed by BIM designers when they are searching for model components. For many years, designers used generic components that represented the function or if possible the graphics of the object. Nowadays, with BIM objects, the BIM designer can download BIM objects and insert these into their model. If the size is not accurate, the objects can be adjusted since they are parametric. These components also have properties so they can schedule the information included. At this point the manufacturer experiences many benefits, such as product marketing through the immediate evaluation of their products by all participants.

To summarise, BIM product integration in the design process has significant advantages. Specifically, the BIM designer benefits of using BIM objects include:

  • Downloading the product from a website or library.

  • Using parametric data to adjust the size, materials, etc.

  • Using properties to schedule the order/delivery/construction process.

  • Using BIM objects to provide a real representation of the product.

The process of BIM object integration into the design process has major benefits for manufacturers. Since the digital data of their products is part of the digital model, this can be incorporated from the early design phase and be made available to customers. Additionally, the use of BIM objects allows manufacturers to track data users and make possible connections with the market. Moreover, the information that digital products create can ensure effective collaboration after the completion of the construction, such as during building maintenance.

In sum, the BIM object benefits for manufacturers are:

  • Creating a digital data brochure that is easy and effective to use.

  • Product data are available to customers.

  • Data of the products become interoperable.

  • Gaining market intelligence from the data.

  • Maximum exposure and reaching new clients.

Nonetheless, there are some questions and challenges to bear in mind. For example, some barriers that manufacturers should consider are:

  • Which software platform should be used for the BIM product? To provide the BIM object in various formats is costly and time consuming for the company.

  • How much detail should be provided? Too much information creates confusion and large files. Conversely, a lack of material leads to malfunctions and a lack of quality.

  • Some designers will use BIM objects in a generic way.

  • Each product should be a unique element and must be provided separately for download. Libraries that include too many objects are not useful for the designer.

Author: Panagiotidou Nicoleta

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