BIM and iPad use quickly gaining traction in construction industry thanks to productivity boosts

Updated Jun 6, 2013

shutterstock_79674811Using an iPad or another of the myriad tablets on the market today to view plans and blueprints on the jobsite is not a new concept to the construction industry. But it is one gaining considerable traction in recent years as firms look to avoid costly mistakes in efforts to boost efficiency.

So when a major news outlet like Bloomberg files a report on the trend, you know it’s at least gradually gaining steam.

The article details new jobs like modelers being created by building information modeling (BIM) software, and says “updated skills are becoming mandatory for designers and contractors,” and that  â€śsuch tools are changing processes used in design and construction.”

Steven Denbow for Balfour Beatty PIC out of London, England, told Bloomberg his company runs BIM because the company is very interested in eliminating “problems before they happen” which “saves time and money in the long run.”

As an example of the extra work it saves his company, Denbow pointed out metal air ducts on a site his company is working on, noting that thanks to running three-dimensional simulations before construction actually began, he was able to find “hundreds [of] …design elements that interfered with each other”—including water pipes that would intersect the ducts. “He requested changes so workers didn’t have to rebuild parts of the $29 million project,” the report reads. Not a bad investment.

And the fact that BIM software can be run on iPads, allowing engineers and contractors to observe things in the field and update plans immediately, and sync those changes across their companies, has only spurred on adoption.

Bloomberg reports that BIM use by architects, engineers and contractors in North America increased to 71 percent in 2012. Five years ago, use was only at 17 percent.

With contractors across the country facing the highest demand they’ve seen in years coupled with a nationwide shortage of skilled labor, the firms that aren’t implementing BIM into their process will likely begin giving it serious thought. Any kind of time they can save is priceless at this point.

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Plus, BIM adoption and the new jobs it has created will expose many who hadn’t considered a job in construction (like the teens and young adults desperately needed to invigorate the construction workforce) to the industry for the first time. The new jobs and training might also give a reason to the thousands who left the industry during the recession due to its instability a reason to reconsider.