Analysts interested in the wellbeing of economies related to the AEC industry are usually at pains to explain, how it is by its nature cyclical, consequently the fortunes of those working within construction will go up and down in regular intervals.
Sometimes the lows get a bit too low for everyone’s liking and the word ‘crash’ appears on the said analysts’ reports, as well as in the daily lives of those too dependent on the health of the industry.
As someone that had weathered one or two of those storms in my professional lifetime, where some blizzards I escaped only by a narrow margin, as well being a (so called) BIM enthusiast – I take a special interest in observing how well various BIM initiatives do, when the dial of the industry heads South, as it seems to be doing now, again.
My sad conclusion is, that BIM does not do very well when its umbrella industry hits turbulent times.
I see that, when things slow down and developments ground to an almost halt – there are usually very few project-owners that will carry on insisting on ‘adding cost’ onto their overstretched budgets by enforcing any type of BIM requirement .
Government clients, often the most vocal BIM mandators in good times, will also retreat hastily from anything BIM.
Never mind, that BIM is supposed to save money and make things more efficient – faced by consultants, contractors and others, themselves keen to keep their cash-flows in the black and armed with ‘take it or leave it attitudes’ – BIM tends to be the first ‘project luxury’ to get dropped.
Those keen on retaining the illusion of being the ‘innovative players’ within the industry, will promise to return to experimenting with this ‘BIM thing’ once the industry settles into a better trend, but when that really happens, they are likely to be too busy to ‘make hay while the sun shines’, doing BIM things only superficially and so the cycle keeps carrying on, giving any meaningful BIM little chance for developing into anything sustainable.
I do wish for this cycle to break sometime, for BIM to become the true answer to the global industry’s plight for help, when things get tough.
To have the players look for the ‘smarter’ for once, as opposed to just the ‘even cheaper’, when the margins thin down.
After all, what better environment to release the shackles of archaic methodologies of ‘drawing based documentation’ than recession hit projects hungry to still deliver win-win results for all involved despite the harsh environments they find themselves in?
What better opportunities to let the underdogs of the BIM-skilled world shine amongst their
non-BIM literate peers, than impossible to complete projects-turned into success stories?
An opportunity for enterprising players to employ outdated versions of Sim games to refine the design of large developments on, at fractions of costs and with high precision, a chance for some others to cut the paper as the medium fully out of their processes and turn loss-making projects into profitable ones? Projects destined for arbitrations and claim-wars, into vibrant money makers and time savers?
Unlikely to happen.
BIM is the ‘stiletto heel’ of the AEC industry.
In good times, it is kind of a status symbol, cool and funky, though often expensive and worn by the jocks, simultaneously glamorous, uncomfortable and impractical.
In an emergency, downright useless.
In an aircraft emergency, can one slide down wearing them an emergency slide?
That says it all, for BIM.
That says it all, for BIM.
Picture from here: