Quadra speaks with Christian Potts a BIM Champion for a UK cubicle Manufacturer about the importance of BIM for Manufacturing. BIM, the subject can come across as too technical with too much jargon. I remember attending my first BIM conference back in 2012 and thought – what in the world is this? My personal take on BIM has remained uncomplicated. It will and has started to affect everyone. If you own or work for a building product manufacturer yet to make a start with BIM, you will no doubt have some questions.
First of all, what is BIM?
Think of it as Better Information Management, as well as Building Information Modelling. BIM is an opportunity to go digital with the manufacturing process. A way to improve the handling of product data to increase quality and efficiency and despite what is thought, it does and will continue to affect more than just architects and contractors.
Why should we invest in BIM?
Well, my objective was to deliver faster, better products to our customers (more later). But, also consider specifiers may request BIM objects of your products. Do you provide CAD blocks? Most likely. So why not intelligent BIM objects that allow specifiers to design within the constraints of your systems?
Will BIM get us more business?
From experience, being first to market gives you an advantage over competitors and makes your business more adaptable to change. BIM has helped raise our profile as a business to specifiers and has opened up new opportunities for us. Demand for BIM objects is higher than ever and is set to continue in this way. There are however some points you should consider.
BIM for Manufacturing – Content for Specifiers
I have questioned the level of detail (LOD in BIM talk) for specifier content and the two options are …
- Do you have in-house skills?
If so utilise these, up-skill if possible and create your own content. Make sure you adhere to standards. See the Bimstore, BIM Bible or the NBS BIM Object Standard. This ensures a level of consistency in the industry and will keep you in the good books.
- If in-house is not an option, then your search for a content creator begins.
Lead-time could be an issue for you here due to high demand. If you’re serious about getting BIM objects, my advice is get started as soon as possible. There are many software developers claiming to author and host BIM objects now. Prices range from a few hundred pound to thousands (and I mean THOUSANDS).
Find a specialist with an established reputation for creating content. Alternatively there are software resellers helping create Revit families, which are ideal if you are intending to host BIM objects yourself. Also make sure you own the content afterwards, this was especially important for us.
Final note on BIM objects
You know your products better than anyone else. Don’t just send your brochure to the content creators and leave it at that. Invest some time and get involved, make sure your BIM objects function as your products do.
Justifying investment in BIM for Manufacturing
Now the tricky bit. If the investment is for specifier BIM objects alone, then your experience will differ from my own. But, if you have done your research and got specifiers on board, the investment could soon pay for itself. Ultimately the main justification for joining the BIM revolution is the potential for loss of business and the opportunity to improve the manufacturing process.
Specifier content was secondary. As our knowledge and understanding of BIM progressed, so did our focus on specifier content. Whilst, senior management had initial reservations about BIM, we soon discovered that implementing a clear strategy has actually improved the manufacturing process at our company. The fact that I could show increased quality and efficiency in-house with BIM made justifying the cost much easier for me.
- Investigate what part of the manufacturing process (handling of product data) you could improve?
- Talk to architects and designers who currently specify your products. Are they taking the BIM route?
- Visit BIM for manufacturing events and find the next one in your local area. Get yourself there and ask lots of questions.
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