BIM implementation for SMEs and the benefits of using Visual Programming

The implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a complex process on its own due to mitigating factors such as financial costs, training required, and liability. The methodology, and associated technology, has been used in the AEC industry for around 30 years. In the past two decades BIM has been adopted mainly by big companies. According to the NBS National BIM Report (2021), UK BIM adoption is around 71%. Since 2018, this figure has not changed. Also, the UKBIMA State of the Nation Survey Report 2021 indicates that implementation levels are proportionally highest in large organisations (81%) and lowest in small organisations (57%).

The above figures may partly reflect the effect on publicly funded projects of the BIM mandate, but may also correspond to the size of practices and projects. It is likely that small, one-off housing project customers are less likely to be aware of and request BIM. This could be due to minimal technology related industry experience. When looked at in more detail, respondents working on one-off new houses, extensions, conversions or alterations are less likely to agree that BIM is the standard for project information. This opinion could explain why smaller organisations are less likely to have already adopted BIM, as they do not think that in the future they will need to use BIM on all projects. In addition to this, they do not believe that they will become outdated or ‘left behind’ if they do not adopt BIM. Many small organisations would prefer not to adopt BIM as they are not aware of the benefits it can bring.

Furthermore, it is more difficult for Small and Mid-size Enterprise (SMEs) to obtain the necessary software technologies and to change their organisational practices in order to take advantage of this way of working. Even if the adverse opinion of BIM changes, SMEs might not be able to keep up with the rate of change and adapt accordingly. The transition to BIM represents a sequence of progressive changes for SMEs to advance the BIM capabilities of their organisation, which Symetri’s BIM Consulting team can help with. In general, research has shown that large amount of investment demand and the risks associated with the adoption of necessary IT improvements can influence SMEs decision to adopt BIM.

At an ever-growing pace, the digital landscape is transforming. In the past decade, many new technological developments have been adopted in the AEC industry. For BIM projects, design automation is one of the technologies that can significantly speed up the BIM implementation for SMEs. Visual Programming applications like Autodesk Dynamo for Revit is a perfect example of how SME’s can use this type of technology to finally make the jump into a BIM environment.

SMEs are not currently adopting BIM partly due to two key factors. Firstly, the necessary learning curve needed to adopt a new technology/software and secondly, the amount of time needed to convert 2D libraries to BIM libraries. By using Visual Programming applications such Autodesk Dynamo as a ‘bridge’ tool during a BIM implementation, the above issues can be less of a problem as Autodesk Dynamo could take care most of the tedious and repetitive task by running a series of predefined scripts. The good news about this technology is the fact that not everyone in a particular company will need to learn how to create the scripts. Those SMEs will have what we call in the industry a ‘BIM Champion’ that will move things forward, or Symetri can help you with our BIM consulting services. The rest of the team simply will run the scripts when necessary. Also, another plus about Autodesk Dynamo and Visual Programming in general is the online community behind it; we won’t need to reinvent the wheel every time we have an idea to make a new script, as it is likely that someone already had the same idea and posted the solution online in forums such as:

Coding will be seen as a normal skill to have and visual programming is the perfect way for SMEs to get started into the coding world, as their interfaces are always user friendly and minimal coding background is required. By the end of the decade some type or form of coding skill will be required for anyone that works in the design process within the AEC industry. So why not start your Visual Programming journey today?

If you are looking for that push to start your Visual Programming journey, speak with Symetri to help you find the best way to take the leap whether that’s through training or our BIM Consulting services.