Contrary to what Nostradamus or the Mayans prognosticated, I do not think 2012 will mark the end of the world. However, I do foresee some pretty significant changes on the horizon for the construction industry, of which we have seen the first signs in 2011.
CAD Managers Become BIM Managers
How many discussions about BIM Managers’ job descriptions have we seen this past year? Too many to count... A sign that Building Information Modeling and Virtual Construction is no longer "a trend,” assigned to someone in the company with an interest in "CAD and computers,” who can do this on the side. It is now taken seriously, in many cases by completely transforming the way that preconstruction and production processes are being managed.
I predict that the BIM Manager will begin to do more than manage models, and start to manage how the project stakeholders interact with them, how they drive better, more integrated processes, and how they enable new efficiencies for the GC. I predict that the GC’s BIM Strategy will be focused on 4D, 5D, and 6D, and how all departments contribute. This is in stark contrast to planning the upgrade to the newest release of boxed software.
BIM Will Redefine Business Processes
Like I was saying above, I predict that the BIM Manager's responsibility reaches much farther than design coordination and constructability management. BIM is more than 3D models: the cost and schedule data aspects are closely related and have to be considered to take full advantage of integrated 5D data. To accomplish integration and obtain more powerful tools for project management, the BIM Manager will be one of the main orchestrators of a redefined business process for construction firms.
As the Director of Customer Success here at Vico, I get to dive into our customers’ projects. And what I see over and over again on our 5D projects is that the preconstruction schedules and estimates are not thrown away – rather they are refined by operations and updated with real-time information out on the jobsite. This is the 5D BIM Workflow that results from each piece of data being so tightly integrated with its downstream actions. The BIM model geometry determines the quantities. The quantities by location and the Subs’ productivity rates determine the durations. The schedule plus the material and labor costs determine the estimate. Tracking the progress onsite keeps us on-schedule and on-budget.
ERP and BIM Will Be Connected
ERP needs BIM inputs. Budgets, schedules, and resource requirements are all products of 5D Building Information Models and required inputs for ERP systems. And many construction firms have acquired these ERP systems and are rolling them out. Why would anyone want to manually input data when we can integrate the entire process?
I predict that 2012 will be the year that these two technology platforms are connected. The ERP will be fed with the location-based input and visual 3D feedback which makes the 5D planning data available for operations. Even something as simple as the accounting clerk being notified by super on the jobsite that the steel sub can be paid because the last beam is in place is an incredible efficiency. Now imagine that multiplied across all of the GC’s projects and you see why the combination of ERP and BIM is inevitable.
It's going to be an interesting year - I am definitely looking forward to it. Happy 2012!