Despite BIM having been around for 3+ decades, it is by no means embraced by the global AEC.
There is a thin layer of participants that push the idea for various reasons (usually superficial), and there are people (in a very small minority) that practice it wholeheartedly. (my respect is with them).
And then, there is the rest.
Most of the industry is uneasy about the BIM thing, yet there is rarely meaningful discussion about it. It is kind of un-PC to question it, those that do, get often passive-aggressively BIM shamed.
Many, that have at some point jumped into it with enthusiasm had since pulled back and are holding on the non-BIM approach even stronger. They are usually not very vocal about their disillusionment but manage to get by in their daily work without needing to engage in BIM activities.
Often these are the ‘better’ people of the industry, the ones with more technical experience, insight and risk management skills.
As someone that has a lot of affinity with both those that are BIM enthusiast as well as those that are BIM doubters, I feel entitled to offer up an approach that might just counter the indignity of a ‘BIM laggard label’ and fulfil one’s own need for self-development.
Become a self-sustained paperfreemodule!
Ditch the paper in your work no matter if you are pro-or-against BIM.
I believe, that no real progress in the overall construction industry will happen as long as we have ‘the’ paper present in and around our core processes.
I am referring here to the ‘real paper’, in its physical representation, not documents that ‘look like paper documents’ but can just as well function in purely digital forms (letters, contracts, drawings etc);
I have an issue with the ‘medium’ and not the content.
(in fact, I have many issues with the content as well, but here I am focusing on the ‘medium’).
My reasoning goes like this:
For the AEC to modernise itself, (and in fact any type of BIM to succeed), it needs a critical portion of its participants to fully embrace digital information creation and management.
Most will not do it, because they do not have to.
Most will not do it, as ‘they get by’.
Someone else will find the file.
Someone else will print the drawing. (or create a PDF and then print the PDF)
Someone else will CADup a markup.
Someone else will update the model from sketches.
If we take the ‘paper’ out of the industry and out of reach of the ‘average’, non-BIM-literate participants (engineers, contractors) – they will find themselves ever-slightly out of their comfort zones, having to ‘figure out’ doing usual work with unusual tools.
They will not by miracle all start modelling at once or walk around with VR headsets on sketching construction details in the air.
But they will sketch on tablets. And keep their files in the cloud so they are available on all of their devices.
And learn to use flat PDFs in conjunction with models.
And pay attention to models on screens at meetings.
They will in turn also push the ‘supply chain’ to develop meaningful tools that will support everyone, not just the born-and-bred BIMmers from the beginning of this story.
There is much, much more to this concept than what I’ve just described, but for now, let’s assume that the theory has legs.
Let’s also suppose, that even the best breed of self-proclaimed BIM gurus of the industry are only functioning at half speed when they aren’t strictly paperfree.
I’ll have to digress a bit here.
Many, many, many people of the AEC industry will, heaving read my thoughts above jump up and be dismayed on how ‘out of synch with reality I am’ and how old ‘this news is’.
There are many, many, many successful examples of paperfree processes already in place everywhere, they’d state.
I stand by the theory.
Claimed ‘Paperfree processes’ in the AEC are extremely rarely truly paper free.
(or even ‘somewhat’ paperfree)
Look around and the pesky thing is everywhere.
Ring-binder folders of claims.
Marked up (and outdated) drawings.
Printed (and impossible to read) Programmes.
I am an optimist at heart and I believe this reality can be changed.
I am going fully and absolutely paper free in my own working methods and am inviting others to do the same.
The paperfreeconstruction group on LinkedIn is to support the Movement.
Get involved and you might just find this BIM thing much more palatable.
And the best of all, you don’t even have to announce anything publicly, just start doing it.