The Business Value of BIM for Water Projects | Construction Podcast

Listen to “A Podcast That Builds” host Ben Johnson and Dodge’s Donna Laquidara-Carr discuss the findings from the SmartMarket Report “The Business Value of BIM for Water Projects”. Learn about BIM (Building Information Modeling) implementation for water projects throughout the construction industry. Below is a transcript of this construction podcast. 

 

Ben Johnson:                                

Welcome to the 10th episode of "A Podcast That Builds", construction industry experts keeping you in the know with news, trends and analysis that will shape the future of building. I am your host Ben Johnson. And joining me here again today is Donna Laquidara-Carr.

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                

It's nice to talk to you again Ben.

 

Ben Johnson:                      

So, on today's episode we're going to be talking about a Dodge SmartMarket Report. It was recently released on the value of BIM (Building information modeling) and water projects. Donna, can you tell us a little more about this, read this report?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                

Sure. the formal title is the Business Value of BIM for Water Projects. It's available for free download on our construction.com website. We were really pleased to work with a couple of fantastic partners on this, Autodesk who supported a lot of our BIM research over the years and Black and Veatch who brought great insight to this project based on their experience in the water sector. So, and the report itself covers a pretty wide range of the value of BIM. It looks at the implementation levels and with which it's used on water projects. It looks at benefits. It also looks at ROI, how people are investing in BIM and the different team members on projects who use BIM (Building information modeling).

 

Ben Johnson:                                          

So, Donna, why do research on the value of BIM for the water sector?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                   

We've been studying BIM (Building information modeling) now for over a decade in particular, we've had a partnership with Autodesk where we've looked at the business value of BIM and we've looked at it in a lot of different ways. You know, first it was just general when it was very early on, but then we started looking at specific geographies, specific sectors in the market. Back in 2012, we decided to look at infrastructure and when we did that study, we found that out of all the different types of infrastructure projects, water really lacked in the use of BIM in a very dramatic way. So now that we're five years out from that, we wanted to see if six years out now, but five years when we did the study, we wanted to see if BIM implementation had changed at all in that sector where they stood now. So, in this case, who did you survey? What we surveyed engineers, contractors and owners. We wanted to get a pretty good picture of how the most important players were regarding of the use of BIM in this market.

 

Ben Johnson:                         

And did you see a change from the 2012 study?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                         

Actually, we did see a very big change, especially in terms of implementation. So first we asked those who participated, all of whom were been users if they went, which types of water projects they were using BIM on. And we got some pretty impressive numbers. 88% said that they were currently using BIM on at least some of their water and wastewater treatment facilities. And 79% said that they were currently using on at least some of their mining and industrial projects. Now, there were few types of water projects that still lagging that kind of use a linear infrastructure, tunneling and hydroelectric, we're all a little bit behind. But interestingly when we asked them what they plan to do in two years, over 80% of respondents expect to be using BIM on all three of those in two years as well. So, we see a lot of activity just in general, like at least a little bit of use on some of these project types.

But of course, that's only part of the picture. Right? You know, if you have 20 water projects and you're only using BIM on one, it's not very impressive. So, we asked those who said yes, we're using BIM on at least some of these now we'll, what percentage of them are you using BIM on? And again, water, wastewater treatment facilities and mining and industrial had a pretty high implementation level. We saw that almost half of those using BIM for water and wastewater treatment facilities and mining, industrial and mining and industrial projects are using it on more than three quarters of their projects. So, you know, once they started using it, use became pretty common, which is pretty critical. And we see that, you know, it was almost half now that 61% expect to be at that high level of implementation in two years. And one of the ones that really jumped out in terms of the lower level ones right now is hydroelectric. Right now, only about a quarter of those who use BIM on those projects use it on that vast majority on more than 75% of them, but just two years, 63% intend to do so. 24% to 63% is a pretty big leap and a pretty ringing endorsement for the impact that they've seen BIM have on those projects.

 

Ben Johnson:                                    

You'll have to forgive me here, Donna, but you keep mentioning implementation not, not adoption. Is there a difference?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                         

Oh yeah, there's a very important difference in, I'm glad you asked that, Ben, because this is something, I really want your listeners to understand pretty well. We didn't look at adoption in this study. It was a minimum level of participation that someone had to use BIM already in this sector. And we made that choice for a couple of reasons. The most important one is that we know that adoption is relatively low. So, we felt what was most important is to tell the industry what people who are using BIM are finding that they experience on these projects. That is the most important thing we think that the industry can understand about it right now. So, you know, getting these people's insights on issues like benefits of using BIM team experience and challenges would be meaningful to the industry as a whole when they consider whether or not they should adopt BIM in this sector.

We do have one subtle indication perhaps that adoption is still at a relatively low level. When we look at specifically what the owners report, you know the owners are working with a wide variety of project teams. Some of them are going to have been experienced, some of them are not. So, when we look at what they report for implementation levels, we see that it's a lot lower that they're seeing BIM use on even the highest sector that water wastewater treatment facilities, you know, you know, only 25% or less are seeing it used on the majority of their projects. And to us that kind of gives us an indication that, you know, this is still a sector that is, is, is, is starting to adopt them but hasn't really arrived at full and full adoption yet.

 

Ben Johnson:                                

So, on that subject, what do you think is a, is still keeping BIM (Building information modeling) use so low overall in the sector?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                            

Well, we didn't gather any direct data on that. Obviously, we'd need to talk to those who aren't using it to know directly. But we did get some interesting information, you know, smart market report in addition to these studies that we do. It always includes a case studies, thought leader interviews, things like that so that we can give insight into things that the data doesn't directly reveal. And this is a really good example of that. We did see in the case studies that there was a lot of, of people who describe challenges in using the existing software. The existing software was often not developed for their exact kinds of projects and they, you know, they had, they described the ways that they had to make the software work for them. However, uniformly I do want to point out all of them said it was more than worth the effort and that they were very happy they put the effort in, but still that does create a bar for adoption for other companies.

Another challenge which was brought up brought out by our thought leaders is that how water projects are procured in the u s BIM tends to be best used on very collaborative projects and it supports collaboration very effectively. But for a lot of water projects in the U.S. still there's still a competitive bidding process. It still tends to be a low bid situation. And so, you know, we don't get the way the projects are procured supporting collaboration enough to encourage wider use of been interestingly at least one thought leader we spoke to felt that the, the positive thing about seeing the use of BIM is that perhaps that could drive more collaboration in this, in the sector.

 

Ben Johnson:                                       

So given, given the challenges you just mentioned why do you see such a high level of implementation, correct use of that word now from those that are using them?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                     

Well, if we think it definitely is because despite the challenges that they've, they're experiencing them is the study clearly demonstrates that BIM offers really powerful benefits to those who use them for the projects. Let me give you a few examples. So, between two thirds and three quarters of those, you know, those who participate in the project and are using, they see a part project outcome benefits like reduced errors and emissions, better ability to maintain quality, which you can imagine in a long-term infrastructure project. Like a water project is really quite critical and better designed solutions, which is exciting. You know that it supports innovation. So those are just the direct project outcome benefits. We also see process benefits over three quarters, 76% say they have reduced conflicts and coordination problems on their jobs which they use BIM you can imagine how much more satisfying it is to work on a project where these kinds of issues are not arising.             

And then we see nearly over 267% say that they have the ability to do, to communicate better because of the way BIM provides 3D visualization. And this is particularly important because it really the case studies brought this out in an interesting way. It's particularly important because it allows them to communicate with owners better, to really work with the owners early on in the process of the project and understand what the owners are looking for and how well they'll be able to use the facilities. And that, you know, getting an engaged owner early in the process, all of our dodge research keeps demonstrating that that's a critical factor for success. So, you know, the fact that BIM supports those efforts is really a critical, critical benefit.

 

Ben Johnson:                                           

So, here's a question I always like to ask, but is there anything surprising is it surprising to you or anyone else that worked on this a, in the findings?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                            

Yeah, one thing that our whole team was pretty surprised about was the degree to which I'm use in this sector really looks beyond construction into the operation of these facilities. You know, we've done a lot of BIM studies as I've mentioned, and while in certain places where they have been mandates like the UK there where there's more of a focus on operations and maintenance. We, we, we've seen that there. But in the U S we've pretty consistently seen in most of the sectors that we've looked at, that most of the attention is concentrated on the design and construction of, of, of projects, not on what happens and how BIM can contribute later. There's always sort of a hopeful thing, but there's, there isn't really close attention. We did not see that in this study and this study we saw that 86% of the respondents and while that did include some from Europe, the majority, the vast majority from the U.S., 86% said that they'd seen asset management integrated with the model.            

Now, not on every project. Again, this is just, they had to see it on at least one of their projects, but still it's pretty compelling that the vast majority said that they're seeing that and that most of them do in fact see it at a moderate level of frequency or higher. So, you know, this, this really seems to be maybe because it's maturing a little bit later in the cycle, there really seems to be more focused on that operations part. And we see the percentage reporting that the model is used to support operations and maintenance activities that's not occurring as frequently as asset management. In terms of the, the, the, the, the number of times they see that with only half a report, it is happening at a moderate level of frequency, but still it's still pretty compelling compared to what we've seen in other sectors.

 

Ben Johnson:                                         

And that's very interesting. But why, why is this so important?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                             

Well, I think it's critically important because, you know, obviously it adds to the value of BIM and that just, that's just goes without saying. But to me the real significance is that it gives owners a real stake in whether or not BIM is used on their projects. Remember that we're dealing with a sector where adoption has been relatively low in the past and where we think it is likely pretty low still. Since we don't have any kind of mandates driving things with the u s is a market driven BIM market. And if owners see the value, if they're more likely to choose candidates who can provide them with models is, they're perhaps even likely to start adding it into their requirements to even participate in bidding in the first place. We could see a real transformation in this sector in a very short period of time in terms of its use of BIM and all the intending benefits it brings.

 

Ben Johnson:                                  

So that's a great, great discussion about a, about this very small portion of BIM implementation. But speaking more widely if, if someone wanted to learn some more about the state of BIM today in other industries of that or the construction industry at large. Do we have some other studies that we could refer them to?

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                             

Yes. Like I said, we have been studying BIM extensively. We've talked to, been with owners, we have been in other countries like China. We have some really, really fascinating reports and I strongly recommend anyone who's interested. Go to our Toolkits section on our construction.com website. If you go to that, you'll see a dropdown for reports. Dive in there. Also look at Briefs because we've got some interesting Briefs on BIM as well. You really be able to, to access all this data. And the most important thing I want to emphasize here is that it's all free. So, anything that that seems of interest to you, you can download those reports for free from that site.

 

Ben Johnson:                                       

Yeah, it's always an important point to make. Thanks once again for joining us today, Donna,

 

Donna Laquidara-Carr:                               

Anytime

 

Ben Johnson:                                          

And as always, you can visit Dodge at construction.com where you can get a free copy of the report referenced in today's show, as well as all our past reports and all our future reports. You can also reach Dodge at (877) 784-9556. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

 

Episode links:

The Business Value of BIM for Water Projects SmartMarket Report