HPAC Magazine

High BIM usage reaps multiple benefits for contractors, study shows

A new study released by Dodge Data & Analytics shows that most mechanical contractors that use BIM experience benefits such as improved cost and schedule performance, lower labour costs and greater productivity.

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February 13, 2020

A new study of mechanical and HVAC contractors using BIM has revealed multiple benefits relating to cost, schedule performance, productivity and lower labour costs.

The study, which was conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics in the U.S., was conducted in partnership with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), Pinnacle Infotech and the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association (AMCA).

According to the data collected, 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 modelling technologies is hampered by training and manpower issues.

“Virtual construction has come a long way in a very short time,” Scott Pittman, VP of Pinnacle Infotech, said in a release. “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. Benefits from using BIM to aid prefabrication are widely reported, with over 80% of mechanical contractors who use it to prefabricate reporting improvements in the material waste generated, labour costs, quality of installed work, avoiding the purchase of extra pipes and fittings and schedule performance.

By using BIM, mechanical contractors have also been able to leverage the technology to conduct more analysis on their projects. Over 70% reported using BIM for shop drawings and spatial coordination on half or more of their projects. Nearly two thirds (61%) reported using BIM for constructibility evaluation on over half of their projects.

“BIM is an increasingly important and incredibly complex part of the building process,” Sean McGuire, Director of Innovative Technologies at MCAA, said in a release. “It requires additional coordination, planning and design expertise. 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.”