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 its 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 2020 by NBS, the latest National BIM Report (download it free here) surveyed over 1,000 construction professionals and it revealed that 73% were using BIM (which was up from the 69% recorded in 2019) 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 or disagree with the statement 'We need manufacturers to provide us with BIM objects' – 81% agreed (up from the 2019 finding of 69%). It is also worth mentioning some other pertinent findings from the previous year’s survey (which weren’t specifically covered for 2020). In 2019…
- 54% of respondents said that they maintain an in-house BIM Object library
- 45% of respondents said they used the NBS National BIM Library
- 30% 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).
Integration of BIM Objects
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 included the development of LEXiCON, a template designed to provide consistency in the digital representation and sharing of construction product data through BIM. It became clear that the task was far more significant and complex than had initially been anticipated and the project’s aims were re-assessed. The current phase of the LEXiCON project began in 2019 with the launch of the Construction Innovation Hub and is expected to run until August 2022. An explanation of these aims and the project’s structure and stakeholders can be found here.
Also worthy of mention to product suppliers is BIMHawk. Launched in 2016, it provides the software tools for the creation of standard parameters for BIM objects, which enables users to create and manage construction Product Data Templates (PDTs) simply and easily.
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 its invaluable article, 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?