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22 November 2019

NZ BIM Benchmark Survey 2019 Results Released

BIM report 1

2019 marks the sixth year of the BIM Benchmark survey — a research programme conducted by EBOSS and the BIM Acceleration Committee to understand the uptake of Building Information Modelling in New Zealand. 

The survey looks at the use of BIM by three control groups:

  • Industry: Key users of BIM technology within the construction industry
  • Clients: Property/asset managers with medium to large portfolios of property or other constructed assets
  • Subcontractors: Subcontractors from medium to large scale companies — a new addition in 2019

In conjunction with the BIM Acceleration Committee, we are pleased to announce the results of the 2019 survey. 

Here are some key findings from this year's research:

A plateau in the use of BIM by industry and clients

Uptake of BIM (the number of projects using BIM) seems to have plateaued for the industry group. While there was a small uplift last year, this was insignificant, with no increase in 2019. The uptake of BIM has stayed relatively stable for this group over the past three years, which suggests that the industry needs a real push to get past the plateau. 

Uptake of BIM has also remained stable among the client group. Only half surveyed integrate digital asset or spatial information. In addition, only 8% of those who don’t integrate digital information say they plan to start doing so in the next 12 months.

BIM use among subcontractors varies widely

This year for the first time we surveyed a group of subcontractors. According to this group, BIM is used on 43% of projects, but that proportion varies widely depending on the subcontractor type. Only three in ten actively push for BIM use on their projects, while a few say they will create their own BIM data even if the consultant is not using BIM.

A shift towards collaboration needed

While there are a number of barriers to BIM uptake, collaboration is one that comes up year after year. In 2019: 

  • 17% of industry say lack of collaboration is a barrier to BIM use
  • Only 42% of industry say they always share their models
  • 54% of subcontractors never receive BIM Execution Plans (BEPs)

As an industry, we need to shift to a more collaborative approach, or we’ll never realise the full efficiencies that BIM processes can offer. BIM means a more dynamic design process, with designs shifting throughout the process. The sense is that clients, subcontractors, and the industry are not really set up to cope with this type of dynamic design, and it is hard to get clients and contractors to understand and work within this new paradigm.

A core part of this mindset shift needs to come from clients. At present, only half of clients within the control group specify BIM in procurement. There are some clients who don’t see the value in BIM, and therefore are not allowing enough in contracts for the extra work BIM requires.

On a positive note, the majority of clients are thinking about whole-of-life, whole-of-building cost at least a little. While a good proportion are giving some consideration to this when procuring projects, the definition of some varies widely. There is a real polarisation of whether whole-of-life, whole-of-building costings are more or less important than the cost to construct.

Legacy systems and the cost of existing conditions modelling still remain as barriers for clients. In addition, creating models for existing conditions is seen as a lot of cost for relatively low value — 46% of clients not currently integrating digital spatial and asset information cite costs outweighing the benefits as their reason.

Bringing subcontractors into the fold

From a subcontractor perspective, what they’re receiving from industry isn’t always ideal. In the transition from the design BIM model to the construction model, over half say they generally discard the design model and remodel more accurately themselves (55%).

In addition, few subcontractors agree that BIM is increasing the efficiency of their work. Only one quarter agree that the cost of accurately modelling is justified with savings during construction, or that they are using BIM to increase the efficiency of their work. Only one in five agree that the model is increasingly being used for populating as-built documentation.

Where to from here?

It would seem to really get to the next level of BIM use, we require far more integration of the different parties involved in a project and more collaboration. Where BIM has worked well, respondents have mentioned increased coordination, efficiency, and better construction outcomes. This can be achieved, but it will require a shift in the way different parties work together.

As an example:

  • From Industry: Only 42% always share their models with other businesses involved in a project
  • From clients: 54% believe their supply chain can’t deliver the required information
  • From subcontractors: Only 5% agree that the level of detail within the design BIM is sufficient for the transition to the construction BIM

As an industry, we agree that BIM is important, but increasing use of BIM will require a mindset shift on all sides. This raises the questions:

  • How can we better bring about a shared understanding that will give each party useful information?
  • How can we enable a more dynamic mindset in the market given where we are now?
  • How can we bring BIM into the conversation before procurement gets involved?
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