HAMILTON, N.J. -- February 12, 2020 -- A new study of mechanical and HVAC contractors using Building Information Modeling software (BIM) reveals the degree to which these contractors are engaged with BIM, the benefits that they experience from its use, and the challenges they face in expanding the use of BIM.
"The Business Value of BIM for Mechanical and HVAC Construction SmartMarket Report" — released by Dodge Data & Analytics — in partnership with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and Pinnacle Infotech, and with the support of Autodesk, The Air Conditioning & Mechanical Contractors’ Association (AMCA) and Innovative Construction Technology — demonstrates that mechanical contractors are sophisticated users of BIM software who have seen the benefits from that use. However, the study also demonstrates that the ability of these contractors to fully leverage the value of modeling technologies is hampered by training and manpower issues, along with the challenge of getting other project stakeholders equally engaged in BIM.
“Virtual construction has come a long way in a very short time,” says Scott Pittman, Vice President of Pinnacle Infotech Inc. “The days of the chalk line and paper documents are decreasing, and we are seeing more laser scanners and layout tools to help with modular construction and pre-manufactured assemblies.”
One of the biggest benefits reported by contractors is the ability of BIM to improve the fabrication process. Many mechanical contractors are frequent users of offsite fabrication for their systems, and the study shows that nearly half use BIM on 50% or more of the assemblies they prefabricate, demonstrating that BIM is an essential tool for this process. Benefits from using BIM to aid prefabrication are widely reported, with over 80% of mechanical contractors who use it to prefabricate reporting that they see improvements in the material waste generated, labor costs, quality of installed work, avoiding the purchase of extra pipes and fittings and schedule performance.
"Before BIM, you could do some things with manual drafting and calculations by shop teams, but BIM really removes much of the guesswork; it removes the calculation piece," said Stacy Zerr, P.E., Director of PreConstruction Services at Waldinger Corporation and Chair of the Innovation Committee for MCAA. "From my perspective, that becomes valuable when we realize the reality of the skilled labor gap. It used to be that having the skill set that was needed to do the geometry and calculations to perform prefabrication without full drawings was possible. Now, when using the BIM models, there is not a great thought process involved in the fabrication. There is on the detailing and drawing side, but on the shop fabrication side, they're given exact links and dimensions. It removes the need for that calculation skill set, and fabrication becomes a routine shop process of cutting, assembling and installing, rather than manipulating the numbers."
“BIM is an increasingly important and incredibly complex part of the building process,” says Sean McGuire, Director, Innovative Technologies, at MCAA. “It requires additional coordination, planning, and design expertise, and MCAA members are embracing the tools and technology to rise to the challenge. This new process is still in its infancy, and mechanical contractors—especially those that are already using BIM—have a lot to learn from this report.”
By using BIM, mechanical contractors have also been able to leverage the technology to conduct more analysis on their projects.
• Over 70% report that they use BIM for shop drawings and spatial coordination on half or more of their projects.
• Nearly two thirds (61%) report using BIM for constructability evaluation on more than half of their projects.
“Use of BIM for spatial coordination and constructability evaluation provides these contractors with a clear advantage,” said Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “They can address issues before construction begins, which saves both time and money, and can even help improve safety by avoiding rework.”
The survey revealed challenges that prevent these contractors from fully leveraging the use of BIM. The biggest challenges include training needs for employees and lack of available manpower to create BIM models. In addition, these contractors struggle with full engagement with BIM across the project team, with lack of support for BIM from other important trades, the issue of other stakeholders on their projects not using BIM, and poor quality BIM use by other stakeholders also presenting significant challenges. Addressing these issues will allow even more contractors to more fully experience the benefits of using BIM collaboratively on their projects.
"There are many variables in every construction process, including the general contractor, the weather, and the people on the job. With so many variables outside of your control, it’s hard to truly measure productivity and the increases," said Stacey Zerr. "We as an organization have noticed that the BIM process requires up-front effort and up-front planning. You’re moving a lot of the decision making and thought process to the forward part of the job. That level of pre-planning and involvement brings rewards when you find “fewer jobs go wrong'," Zerr said. "You’re removing some of the risk and doubt, which leads to better productivity and profitability. We know that if we can get ahead of that curve, we have better control over what will happen on the project. The BIM process gets us further ahead because we’re doing things earlier.”
About MCAA: The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) serves the unique needs of approximately 2,600 firms involved in heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing, piping, and mechanical service. We do this by providing our members with high-quality educational materials and programs to help them attain the highest level of managerial and technical expertise. MCAA includes the Mechanical Service Contractors of America, the Plumbing Contractors of America, the Manufacturer/Supplier Council, the Mechanical Contracting Education and Research Foundation and the National Certified Pipe Welding Bureau. To learn more, visit THIS LINK.
About Pinnacle Infotech Inc: Pinnacle Infotech offers Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions to Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) firms worldwide. Clients use our BIM services for construction projects to facilitate project coordination, collaboration, asset management, risk mitigation, logistic planning and cost optimization. Pinnacle Infotech Global delivery centres helps our clients to assemble projects in a virtual environment for identifying and correcting potential problems before construction. Pinnacle believes “Construction is all about Preconstruction.” We are one of the market leaders since 2003, providing BIM solutions to the international market. Our team of 1250+ Architect & Engineers has successfully executed BIM projects in 39 countries across 6 continents. To learn more, visit THIS LINK.
About Dodge Data & Analytics: Dodge Data & Analytics is North America’s leading provider of analytics and software-based workflow integration solutions for the construction industry. Building product manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, and service providers leverage Dodge to identify and pursue unseen growth opportunities and execute on those opportunities for enhanced business performance. Whether it’s on a local, regional or national level, Dodge makes the hidden obvious, empowering its clients to better understand their markets, uncover key relationships, size growth opportunities, and pursue those opportunities with success. The company’s construction project information is the most comprehensive and verified in the industry. Dodge is leveraging its 100-year-old legacy of continuous innovation to help the industry meet the building challenges of the future. To learn more, visit THIS LINK.