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The construction industry is rapidly going digital, with BIM becoming an important part of it. BIM is allowing more intelligent use of resources and optimization of workflows, leading to productivity and profitability.

While many countries are going all out in its adoption, countries like India are yet to catch up.

As Mr Amarnath CB, Founder, India BIM Association, puts it, “We have about 30-40K people who are using BIM for projects, but most of the people providing these services are for the global markets, there are a very few who are providing the services for Indian projects largely because they are not able to convince clients about the benefits of BIM. When we talk about the level of development, it’s mainly for modeling, scheduling, estimation, and not for construction tracking or FM usage etc. There is a need for providing information about how this can be adopted for various stages of projects.”

In India, a few companies are delivering BIM services to the global sector, but they are being delivered only through subcontracts. Things should happen way beyond this, like adopting BIM for the complete project lifecycle. Currently, in India, the benefits of BIM are restricted to design and not carried forward to construction and FM.

Amarnath says, “Most of the time clients are confused because they have to pay more for the design but they are not aware how to actually use BIM during construction and FM. Hence clients hesitate in adopting this.”

Ignorance is not bliss

Not many in India are aware of BIM and its advantages. BIM is producing a completely new scenario for how people must collaborate for projects, and we do not have skilled workforce to understand the nitty-gritty. With respect to AEC industry, architects are always working on new technologies but how about understanding each and every player’s requirements and collaborating on these aspects? BIM is the tool that can support all of these requirements. However, to facilitate better collaboration, coordination and communication among the people involved in BIM projects, the people involved must be fully aware of the benefits and this can be achieved only through better education. To have more skilled people on board for BIM projects, education on BIM should be introduced at the university level. This, in turn, will facilitate its adoption.

Work on Pricing

The companies in India that are providing BIM services have priced it on the higher side considering it as something special. The clients to are not aware of how to save money using these services in a proper manner. These problems are making BIM getting labeled as an expensive practice to adopt.

Stronger policies required

Things need to improve at the policy level for better adoption. Most of the policymakers or owners are not aware of BIM or even if they know, they don’t know what to expect out of it. Unless we have a top-down model, adoption would remain an issue. Amarnath adds, “If we consider the national building code there is a rule that BIM must be used in construction, but it is not clear, so we need to have guidelines in India to have clear-cut details about what kind of BIM needs to be delivered and what should the client expect out of the project.” India can learn from countries like Spain, where two ministries are working on implementing BIM in their job.

There is no doubt that the situation is not so favorable for BIM adoption in India. But, with time, things will look up. The benefits of adopting BIM in construction cannot be denied and thus the adoption will not stay denied for long.

What’s limiting BIM adoption in construction?

The construction industry is rapidly going digital, with BIM becoming an important part of it. BIM is allowing more intelligent use of resources and optimization of workflows, leading to productivity and profitability. The benefits that BIM offers to construction are limitless, but even then the adoption is not happening at the pace desired.

BIM adoption is seeing an increasing trend as more and more decision-makers are able to understand how by virtually prototyping the building to be constructed, they can review the design more easily, achieve more accuracy in construction and if need be, evaluate alternatives in terms of cost and other parameters. However, a few challenges limit the permeation.

We wonder why even after so much of gung-ho, BIM is not becoming the necessary ingredient for all construction projects. A few challenges are acting as barriers, we believe.

So, what’s limiting the adoption?

The five major factors that are mainly affecting BIM adoption in construction include: difficulty in changing people’s habits, limited relevancy, interoperability issues, limited budgets and slack in following operating standards.

Barriers to BIM adoption

Barriers to BIM adoption in construction

Resistance in changing habits

We all are aware of the saying, ‘old habits die hard’. This holds true in case of BIM adoption as well. The inclusion of BIM in the construction process requires the people involved to get acquainted with the new technologies and get trained in them so that they can use them effectively. This calls for additional efforts and coming out of comfort zones, and thus is faced by resistance. Most of the people involved in the construction industry have reached a certain age where they lack the enthusiasm to adopt new methods, even if they seem promising. This resistance to change old habits limits the adoption of BIM in construction.

Not enough budget

This issue particularly affects small and medium organizations (SMOs). Adoption of BIM involves high implementation fee and training costs, which includes the cost of hiring experts, training the existing workforce and making an investment in new technologies. The SMOs often do not have enough budgets to meet these additional expenditures. Cost considerations often take over and organizations prefer to follow traditional methods as the associated costs are known and easily managed for. The organizations often fail to realize the long-term savings that adoption of BIM in construction brings and limit their vision to short-term cost and benefit comparisons.

Avoiding standards

According to Mark Bew, Chair of the BIM Working Group, UK Government, “Standards play an important role in ensuring the wider adoption of BIM technologies, processes and collaboration by ensuring the same accurate data can be accessed throughout the supply chain.” Standards ensure continuity for the project and provide the project owner with the format they desire. They also have a big impact on productivity and ensure that the overall BIM implementation is sustainable and consistent. However, some project coordinators or owners fail to establish and enforce these standards diligently, and sometimes even end up referring to their own standards, creating complications and fallacies.

Interoperability issues

AFUL interoperability working group defines Interoperability as, “Interoperability is a characteristic of a product or system, whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, present or future, in either implementation or access, without any restrictions.” Software interoperability provides the customers freedom to switch from one product to another while keeping the data intact after the transfer. Since construction engages numerous stakeholders, it is necessary to have the project data represented in a common interpretable form, such that it can be accurately exchanged among different computer systems and platforms. However, BIM suffers from interoperability issues, which limits its adoption in the industry. Most of the software programs were originally developed to work as standalone applications and are not typically designed to share data with other programs.  Different tools would normally have their proprietary data structures and often do not provide means of linking their database through a standard, which creates the biggest challenge to interoperability. These issues must be addressed to make BIM a preferred choice among stakeholders in the construction industry.

Limited relevancy

An important factor that is limiting the growth of BIM adoption in construction is its inability to create value in the minds of small and medium-sized organizations. Most of them feel it is irrelevant. 71% of small firms feel that BIM simply isn’t applicable, or appropriate, to the nature of their typical workload. They feel their projects are not complex enough to need BIM.

Construction firms may feel confident that even without adopting BIM they are well-off, but soon this bubble will burst. BIM brings in cost efficiencies, increases the speed of delivery and profitability. The experiences of those who have adopted BIM confirm that the change is worthwhile and those who will resist the change will be left behind.