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The Mis-Information of BIM

The Mis-Information of BIM is doing more damage than good and it will not help the adoption of BIM along if it actually contradicts the logic that many AEC professionals will immediately put to the questions of BIM adoption.

It is sad that even key publications like AEC Magazine of the UK publish misinformation about Building Information Modeling (BIM). Sad because the truth is misinformation about BIM and the woeful lack of consensus about BIM’s very definition are contributing to issues related to its adoption. (You can read about definitional-issues related to BIM adoption in our architosh 2010 BIM Survey Report here).

Martyn Day has published a nice look-see of Graphisoft’s new ArchiCAD 14–with plenty of cool images of the Microsoft Hungary campus building the BIM leader is using to demonstrate version 14’s features. You can check out that article here:

http://aecmag.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=354

It’s a good article on the new ArchiCAD 14. But right in the second paragraph, Martyn does the industry a big disservice by stating an absolute falsehood about BIM adoption in AEC. He says that MEP and structural engineering firms “were quick to adopt 3D” and suggest that its the architects who are lagging in BIM adoption.

First off nobody in AEC has been quick to adopt 3D or BIM. I’m not sure what he means by 3D (if it is BIM he is referring to or not) but either of them has not been adopted quickly in AEC. That’s just false. As regards 3D, SketchUp has had more to do with accelerating 3D adoption within AEC than any other tool. Even the long-standing BIM tools.

But back to the engineers. According to the McGraw-Hill SmartMarket BIM report published late in 2009, very few MEP engineers (22%) collectively see MEP engineers reaping high value in ROI from BIM. I’m not saying this to put a damper on BIM for MEP, but rather to emphasize the importance of accuracy of information.

The reality is that structural engineers are benefiting more from BIM than many of the constituents of MEP. Electrical engineers, in particular, see very little value in modeling electrical items (which themselves are often very small). A similar argument can be said about plumbing. Mechanical engineers are actually lagging mechanical contractors in BIM adoption based on the McGraw-Hill report cited above. The report also notes that marketing new business to clients is the number one internal benefit of BIM for MEP engineers. Marketing! Think about that for a second. What does that imply? This is because contractors and building owners are benefiting the most from BIM adoption and many are mandating BIM. Large MEP outfits need to attain BIM skills in order to compete for work. ROI tied to productivity is getting blurred by BIM’s benefit in competing in a very tough economic environment.

Finally, the McGraw-Hill report on BIM clearly states that architects were the early adopters of BIM technology and remain the highest users of BIM. Not engineers!

This is just one example of the misinformation of BIM in the industry. Elements of the press need to be careful to make sure they are citing the correct facts. Especially facts about adoption and financial benefits. Here at Architosh we spent an enormous amount of time making sure we crafted our statements about BIM adoption in our 2010 BIM report in such a way that they were backed up by solid factual numbers; and when those numbers were not quite there or were more suggestive that we could cite credible evidence of what the numbers were suggesting.

Martyn Day’s article has the story completely backwards and it doesn’t gel with arguably the world’s best report on AEC industry-wide BIM usage data. It also doesn’t jive with our BIM report–while much smaller in scope and limited to architects did communicate clearly to us who in AEC was the farthest along in BIM. Nor does it gel with logic. The earliest BIM tools were in fact made for architects first.

If you haven’t read the McGraw-Hill SmartMarket BIM Report from late 2009 you can obtain it here. It is a very exhaustive study with quite a lot of numerical data.

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