Opinion

How Traditional AEC Processes and BIM Level 2 Reinforce Silos

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Behalf of Marty Rozmanith 

Siloed Collaboration with BIM Level 2

Construction project contributors can be categorized into teams:

  • Design Team: Architects, engineers, and special consultants
  • Supply Team: Building product manufacturers, fabricators, and suppliers
  • Construction Team: General contractors, sub-contractors, and trades
  • Operations Team: Owners, operators, and facility managers

Feedback loops, task management, design coordination, and other limited collaborative elements certainly exist within each team; however, the ambiguity, rework, and RFIs that persist between teams are symptomatic of broken collaboration across the extended project delivery team.

Research by the U.K. Construction Industry Council indicates the benefits sought by owners—reduced costs, increased value, increased sustainability—are not achievable by BIM Level 2 only.

The inherent handoffs and rework processes prevent integration among the teams and lock value within silos:

Traditional Design, Construction, and Operations ProcessBIM Level 2 Benefits Are Locked in Silos

Collaboration on documentation and deliverables exists within each silo, but a lack of collaboration between teams causes errors, rework, RFIs, and inefficiencies.

Siloed Collaboration: Weaknesses of a Broken Process

In a BIM Level 2 framework, construction projects suffer from a lack of data integration, disconnected documents, and insufficient data for process simulation—three root causes of unforeseen project delivery issues.

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No Data Integration

Siloed collaborative approaches require data to be exported and files to be exchanged. Exchanging files is an inadequate solution, creating massive version control problems as multiple parties provide key data at various points in the process.

Because there is not a Single Source of Truth mechanism, contributors are missing meaningful, contextualized data that would help them make better decisions. Architects make decisions based on design intent, but are missing construction and manufacturing data that could impact the end result. Contractors receive incomplete, ambiguous design information that causes RFIs and change orders.

No Document Continuity

The design team creates permit drawings. The systems manufacturers and fabricators then redesign the drawings for their own purposes. The construction team, in turn, creates sequence documents based on top-down estimates, and spends significant resources processing RFIs, submittals, and change orders.

Permit Drawings ≠ Shop Drawings ≠ Sequence Drawings

The differences between the drawings required at various stages in the process create vast productivity challenges.

Ultimately, the project delivery process resolves most document inconsistencies, but by then the changes are costly and disruptive.

No Process Simulation

An animated 3D model (also known as a 4D model) is an insufficient imitation of how a project is built. Process-based means and methods cannot be represented accurately without adequate process information and integrated design data.

Most of the considerable waste that occurs during a construction project happens within the project delivery phase, when steep material and labor costs are incurred. Without a bottom- up simulation process to predict points of conflict and sub-optimal work sequences, a project team is making an educated guess at how the building will come together.

Behalf of Marty Rozmanith 

The inherent limitations of the siloed collaboration model that persists with BIM Level 2 are preventing the industry from moving forward.

Barriers to Effective Collaboration

Change is difficult, and a number of obstacles have stood in the way of the industry evolving its practice of collaboration.

Definitions

Each team has traditionally defined “collaboration” differently, focusing on its individual need:

  • The Design Team tends to think of collaboration as working on a single BIM model.
  • The Supply Team tends to think of collaboration as a review of shop drawings or other supplier-produced documents.
  • The Construction Team tends to think of collaboration as using a structured project management system.

Legal Implications

Contractual relationships and interactions between parties can create indemnity insurance issues. Insurance objections and legal concerns are occasionally raised when parties are unfamiliar with modern collaboration technologies. Reliable governance and traceable workflows create accountability and mitigate legal risks.

Point Solutions

Standard industry tools facilitate coordination within each team, but unfortunately, not effectively across teams. End-to-end collaboration is made impractical with a patchwork of proprietary systems, causing version control problems and opportunities for human error.

Point solution providers position BIM Level 2 tools as collaborative, despite the evidence that they offer limited collaboration support for project contributors outside their application suite.

These challenges—varying definitions of collaboration, presumed legal implications, and insufficient point solutions—contribute to the difficulty of inter-team cooperation, reinforce silos, and cause massive inefficiencies.

To continue to the next section, ADAPTING MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES FOR DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION: Extended Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3, download the full whitepaper: “End-to-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Industry Approach Based on Best Practices from Manufacturing.”

Related Resources

End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industry Solution Based on Manufacturing Best Practices

Contact Dassault Systèmes for a consultation: Our experts can help you design the most effective BIM Level 3 deployment strategy for your organization

 

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