Dominic Martens, BIM Manager at John Wardle Architects, explains why it’s so valuable for manufacturers to support architects and design professionals by getting on board with BIM. This is an edited transcript of his presentation at USG Boral’s recent Melbourne launch of its new online tools, BIMWIZARD® and eSelector. 

I was asked today to talk about why manufacturers need BIM, or why BIM needs manufacturers. I think it’s a two-handed approach. Both manufacturers and architects/engineers need content. We need manufacturers to get involved, like USG Boral. And we also need them to be fully efficient because, if they’re not, it hurts us in the long run.

BIM drives efficiency.

BIM is basically 3D models with information attached to them. If you haven’t seen some of the BIM work that’s been going on recently, BIM is driving computational design, it’s driving more information into a model, driving how we could better construct things. From this buildings are going up quicker, with more efficiencies, and without detracting from the overall design or even engineering.

We’re finding that we’re now designing a lot later in the process, because we have the efficiencies to be able to do that. There’s value in having the information tied to each object – such as its acoustics, its structure, the properties behind it.

So why should manufacturers provide BIM content? 

In the end, it’s about helping us architects and engineers out there to deliver our projects quickly and more easily, without us having to recreate the content for ourselves. 

A number of times I’ve gone to a manufacturer’s showroom and they’ve said, “We don’t need BIM, there’s no use for it, no-one’s asked for it.” And I think, “Obviously you’re on the internet, so why aren’t you on BIM?” It’s almost the same; if you don’t do BIM content you’ll get left behind.

At the heart of it, manufacturers need to give the end user some content that’s actually usable. There’s no point giving them old drawings imported into a BIM-type file and saying, “Here’s my new BIM content, I’ve done it!” That doesn’t cut the mustard in a lot of firms, now day designers won’t open or look at it or use it unless you’ve created the BIM content – so there goes half your market.

When your content is good – as we’ve seen with USG Boral and others who’ve created high-end plug ins – their tools have been used a lot more throughout the industry. When it’s a good plug in, people spread the word, especially amongst us BIM Managers. 

When we use something that’s useful and helpful for us day to day, we’ll use that tool more often and we’re more likely to tell someone else. Or even go thank the people that have done it, because it actually makes it easier and quicker. 

Nowadays we can select products and have all the information tied into our model.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen someone try and put in a crazy door size when, nine times out of ten, it’s going to be standardised by the builder anyway! So, instead of designers and engineers reading pages of literature to understand how a product works, they’re using the BIM content in the way it’s meant to be used. 

It’s not about which manufacturers have got content and which haven’t; it’s actually about who’s got good content and who doesn’t. 

We’re seeing now in the UK that most government jobs are requiring Level 2 BIM compliance. So manufacturers are saying, “We’ve missed the boat! We actually needed BIM content yesterday, so how can we get it quickly and easily?” But it’s not a small or cheap process to create good content that architects and engineers will use.

Every day I see something new, something cool, something different. 

Manufactures are always developing new tools. This is always leading us architects to stay on top of new technology, and manufacturers are helping with this journey.

Finally, as architects, we should always ask our suppliers for BIM content. In the end, it saves us time. If it can save an hour, two hours or two days, it helps us deliver better buildings and better design. Instead of building BIM content we can spend time actually designing buildings.

Dominic Martens specialises in Autodesk® Revit® as a Revit® Content Specialist/BIM Technologist with IGS BIM Solutions (recently acquired by UNIFI Labs). Currently BIM Manager at John Wardle Architects, he’s responsible for BIM Workflows, BIM Training, BIM Protocols, BIM Support and the BIM management of all the firm’s projects. Dominic assisted USG Boral in the development and testing of BIMWIZARD®.

The opinions expressed by Dominic Martens are the opinions of Mr Martens and should not be taken to reflect the views or opinions of USG Boral.

You can check out eSelector and BIMWIZARD® here