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Back from the AGC BIM Forum in Dallas

The AGC BIM Forum was held last week in Dallas at the Omni Hotel. According to a quick show of hands, about 50% of the attendees were new to BIM and to the BIM Forum.  (These events always remind me that there are a lot of people out there that are just getting introduced to BIM.)  It's always great to meet new people and help them get started on the path to better understanding how BIM can help improve their projects.


The event started with a presentation from Mike LeFevre, Holder Construction. He focused on the fact that Contractors might be slowly getting themselves into the shop drawing business as they build models with higher level of detail. BIM applications allow the contractor to generate floor plan, section and elevation views easily. Therefore, drawings are a simple byproduct of the detailed coordination model.  (Holder Construction and Vico shared last year's Vision Award for best application of BIM.)


Some of the typical use cases listed by Mike were:

Virtual Mock-Up - drawings can be used to communicate details of the façade and help solve complex constructability issues

In-Wall Coordination - interior elevations can generate and used to coordinate receptacles and built-in furniture

Virtual User Testing - 3D renderings can be used to help the client validate the program and the layout of mission critical spaces.


Gerdau Ameristeel presented the Fast Frame process that streamlines the construction process of steel structures by eliminating the gaps between the engineer, general contractor, sub contractor, detailer and material supplier. The Fast Frame process calls for a Steel Team or Steel Alliance on a project that fosters better communication and interaction between all project stakeholders. It is essentially a mini IPD for the steel scope of the building that results in significant schedule compression.


The first day continued with a presentation from John Moebles of Crate and Barrel. This eye-opening presentation focused on the real ROI of BIM. Crate and Barrel has been engaged in using BIM for several years now. BIM is mostly used for coordination by the design team and the construction team on their projects. According to the owner they have not seen significant ROI on performing coordination only.  It helped prevent delays and reduce field change orders, but making the project "less bad" doesn't yield significant savings compared to past projects.  


Owners would like to see design phase savings by faster document production that results in decreased design fees and shorter turn-around time, and construction phase savings such as compressed schedules and reduced procurement time and cost. According to the presentation real ROI would have to be around 115% to 120% in order for BIM to become more prevalent.


On the first day there were also many discussions around model based estimating both for conceptual and preconstruction phase purposes. This topic is slowly making its way to the spotlight as more and more companies are trying to take advantage of BIM in more ways than just coordination. The day ended with the rapid fire technology demonstrations where we had a chance to debut Vico Office and show it in action.


The second day continued with many sessions about the various ways to split and manage multiple models across the network. The Forum closed with a discussion about ROI where multiple contractors discussed various case studies about savings achieved using BIM for coordination.


It is great to see the industry now stepping beyond using BIM only for coordination and taking the next step into model-based quantity takeoff, estimating and scheduling. However there are still a lot of companies out there that are just starting to learn more about BIM. I guess it's never late to start!

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