Building Information Modelling (BIM)
The last 20 years has witnessed a dramatic technological change in the way in which we research and retrieve data, and this has been no less apparent than in the field of construction product marketing. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the latest, and clearly most advanced, system for which construction product data needs to be adapted and then disseminated.
Whilst BIM describes the process of creating a complete digital model of a building or other construction, BIM objects (or components) are individual digitised 3D replicas of products which can be placed into the BIM. These can include a complete range of the product's aesthetic options and comprehensive information on the product's technical characteristics, providing specifiers with access to interactive data covering not just the visual qualities of a product and all its variants, but also its technical and performance data. Moreover, its operating instructions and the complete range of colour and finishing options can be included along with logos and copyrights.
Released in May 2017 by NBS, the latest National BIM Report surveyed more than 1,000 construction professionals and it revealed that 62% were using BIM and awareness of BIM was near universal (in 2010, the survey recorded only 13% were using BIM and some 43% were unaware of it). On the specific issue of the value of BIM Object creation on the part of the construction product manufacturer, the findings were clear: Respondents were asked to agree of disagree with the statement 'We need manufacturers to provide us with BIM objects' – 71% agreed. It is also worth mentioning some other pertinent findings:
- 58% of respondents said that they maintain an in-house BIM Object library
- 45% of respondents said they used the NBS National BIM Library
- 27% of respondents said they used other BIM Object Libraries
So, from the manufacturer's/supplier's point of view, the marketing benefits are clear and, what is more, BIM objects provide the potential for delivering data into the heart of a project's design process, accessible by all involved specifiers and other participating professionals.
Once the product manufacturer has produced BIM objects, the promotion of the information parallels that of traditional forms of product marketing, or at least in terms of the dissemination of the information, i.e. available as downloads from the manufacturer’s own website, industry information sites, online journals and directories (view our databases of construction industry journals and construction product directories).
In October 2016, the Construction Product Association published its report entitled 'The Future of Construction Product Manufacturing', which outlined a roadmap to enable the sector to fully integrate with each stage of the construction process.
Part of the plans include the development of LEXiCON, a template designed to provide consistency in the digital representation and sharing of construction product data through BIM. LEXiCOn aims to foster a common language which can be used across the entire construction product sector, thus avoiding misunderstanding. At the time of writing, details are expected to be available via the CPA website imminently.
In this section, we have provided more detailed information on BIM and are grateful to the construction communications agency and BIM specialist, Costello Palmer, for their two invaluable articles:
Understanding BIM, including:
- What is BIM
- UK Government BIM Level 2 Mandate
- The Next Steps
The Importance of BIM in Manufacturing, including:
- BIM is a Process
- Harnessing the Power of BIM
- Facilitating Your Customer's Needs
- Why do we Need BIM?