Friday, February 24, 2012

Barking down the wrong weed... (haunted by the ‘drawing’)

When I first switched camps to join the construction side of the industry ten-or-so-years ago, it still felt like a ‘breath of fresh air’ to be working in.
Tough and competitive, but also with clear-enough objectives:
‘go and build’, ‘find the consultants’ mistakes on the way, make some money too...’

Somehow, over the decade that passed since, construction got infected by the same virus that the design-end of the industry had been suffering from.
This virus causes the ‘cancer of the drawing’ and no project escapes once infected.

The construction people of the construction workflow do not seem to mind this disease, as it gives them a good excuse for just about anything;
(i.e. could not pour concrete, erect steel, tile bathroom...etc, had no shop-drawings;)
The engineering people of the same workflow aren’t appearing to be too bothered either, perhaps because the ‘shop-drawing-custodianship’ gives them something to live for.

Or work for! In current, challenging economic times that reason is not to be ignored.
In fact, it is a major driver for engineering departments of construction companies from all over the world to fight fiercely for archaic shop-drawing production processes to survive.
This mirrors the bad behaviour of the design fraternity that most of these practitioners have left to invade the construction fields so badly, that any hope for BIM to gain traction is evaporating.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

BIM and how the Indians have taken over the corner dairies of New Zealand...

A disclaimer to start-with: I am not a cross-country-migration specialist, nor someone that would encourage – or on the other hand, discourage migration on any scale, small or large. I take no political stance on the issue and no aspiration to feed arguments for or against it.

I have been an immigrant most of my life and have seen over time the significant impact (positive and negative) it had on a country, a region, a large part of the world, but also – and probably even more importantly for my area of interest: on an industry.

Few people in New Zealand under the age of 30 know of dairy owners that are not Indians, first or second generation immigrants. Very few local bakeries are run by people not of Chinese or other Asian-origin.
Rightly or wrongly – the ‘take-over’ has happened, under the noses of the people and in a relatively short timeframe.

When it comes to BIM – and its employment within the AEC industry, ‘expert-migration’ is yet to make any significant impact. The potential nevertheless is there!
Not that anyone is seriously and publically prepared to analyse this ‘opportunity’, typically highly politically and emotionally charged.
That is unfortunate. 
The opportunity exists, to source the type of people that will drive the cultural change needed for the approach to flourish – without rocking the boat too much.
Initially, anyway.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A different breed of BIM out/in sourcing... what could be a great catalyst for the change, this industry is waiting for.

I admire many individual architects, engineers and construction managers operating within the AEC, still I regard this layer of the ‘building creation machinery’ to be a major obstacle for a ‘culture’ to emerge that would be progressive, efficient, BIM-friendly and enjoyable to work in.

I often refer to them as the ‘middle-managers’.
They operate somewhere between the ‘top cheese’ that make the strategic decisions on how things are done in the organisation and those that actually do the ‘visible part ‘of the work.
(let’s leave the ‘intellectual part’ out for the moment).
Their biggest sin (in my eyes) is their ‘hands-off’ attitude to information management.

I’ve been accused of personalising this problem, attacking the ‘people’ in it.
I believe in clearly pointing out the need to discard/replace a practice* that obviously is not working industry and worldwide:
De-privilege this middle-management within projects, get them to take full responsibility for what they are supposed to do and the industry will jolt itself out of the hole it’s been stuck-in for decades!

But, how to get this de-privilege-isation happening when strong, vested interests keep ensuring its continuous survival?

My latest hope is in the out/in sourcing firms, smart people that run them, entire-countries even that may size this yet ‘invisible’ opportunity.

No, offering modelling, coordination or (God-forbid) clash-detection-services will not do.
But there’s something-else that may just....

* This ‘practice’ is delivering buildings through second-hand information creation and manipulation and I have already written quite a bit on this subject in the past.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Arm me with BIM!

AEC analysts love to compare the building-creation industry, its workings and productivity (or lack of) with that of the manufacturing.
I find this quite weird;
I see more commonality with other ‘unrelated’ fields like travel, hospitality, education, even healthcare.
The most striking resemblance still, is with the finance and gambling industries – a connection very few people are prepared to acknowledge.

This is unfortunate.
The way ‘treasures have been shared’ within the participants of the industry has largely been determined by speculation, manipulation and luck for quite a while;
Facing up to this fact – would do a lot of good for all of us operating within the field.
Such collective enlightening  would not just make the game more sophisticated, but also assist the true uptake of BIM, no end.

For a start, we all would stop hoping that a general practice of ‘play nicely’ will spontaneously emerge and instead will all learn to survive – or even – thrive in the game that is tough, hostile and brutal.
Secondly, we would recognise that building owners/developers are ‘just’ another player at the table. Their stakes may be sometimes bigger than others’ but very often are not too.
Therefore, we should stop looking at them with expectations to single-handedly dampen the gamble and instead better arm ourselves to increase our own odds to win a fair share of the ‘booty’.