Wells Concrete’s experience with BIM (Building Information Modeling) is not an uncommon one in the precast industry. Wells’ first experience with 3D modeling was around the year 2000, and my own first involvement was a decade ago in 2007. Most expectations at the time were that the drafting efficiency using modeling would match existing 2D drafting in a year- or two year-long development phase. After the drafting in 3D was perfected, we’d be able to reap all the additional rewards that BIM has to offer: great coordination in design-build projects and software tools assisting with clash detection, material quantities, scheduling, estimating, and design.
The frustrating result was that we did not quickly achieve efficiency with the basic modeling portion of BIM that is essential for all the extra bells and whistles of BIM.
Now in 2017, a few software packages later, it looks like there is reason to believe we’ve made 3D modeling work. Drafting efficiency in modeling projects is nearing the efficiency of traditional 2D drafting, with some of our best modelers exceeding traditional drafting efficiency. At this point, a lot of elements – including training, software, work process, product and detail libraries – and drawing formats are by no means perfect, but good enough for 3D modeling to function competitively. With so much room for improvement in 3D modeling, there is a lot of potential to out-perform 2D drafting.
While there are many success stories of BIM use by various firms, projects, and individuals at the leading edge of technology, there has also been many who have been discouraged by the difficulties of implementing the technology. With 3D modeling becoming practical and nearing preferred status, the use of information contained in the model can become a greater reality for the masses. That is where we should get excited about BIM again. BIM is no longer just for the tech-savvy fore-runners of technology. It’s at a point that it can assist nearly everyone with items like project planning, estimating, scheduling, material inventories, VR manufacturing, design coordination, and design analysis.
Director of R&D