High Degree of BIM Use by Mechanical Contractors Leads to Multiple Benefits, New Study Shows

February 12, 2020

A new Dodge Data & Analytics study of mechanical and HVAC contractors using BIM shows that most mechanical contractors that use BIM experience benefits such as improved cost and schedule performance, lower labor costs and greater productivity. MCAA partnered with Dodge to produce the report, which includes input from many MCAA members.

The Business Value of BIM for Mechanical and HVAC Construction SmartMarket Report based on the study’s findings provides a comprehensive examination of the benefits that mechanical contractors experience when using BIM as well as the challenges they face in expanding BIM use.

The study demonstrates that mechanical contractors are sophisticated users of BIM software who have seen the benefits from that use. However, the study also shows that the ability of these contractors to fully leverage the value of modeling technologies is hampered by training and manpower issues, along with the challenge of getting other project stakeholders equally engaged in BIM.

One of the biggest benefits reported by contractors is the ability of BIM to improve the fabrication process. Many mechanical contractors are frequent users of offsite fabrication for their systems, and the study shows that nearly half use BIM on 50% or more of the assemblies they prefabricate, demonstrating that BIM is an essential tool for this process. Benefits from using BIM to aid prefabrication are widely reported, with over 80% of mechanical contractors who use it to prefabricate reporting that they see improvements in the material waste generated, labor costs, quality of installed work, avoiding the purchase of extra pipes and fittings and schedule performance.

Other top benefits reported by contractors using BIM in general are increased labor productivity, increased profitability, better utilization of resources and improved cost performance.

“BIM is an increasingly important and incredibly complex part of the building process. It requires additional coordination, planning, and design expertise, and MCAA members are embracing the tools and technology to rise to the challenge. This new process is still in its infancy, and mechanical contractors—especially those that are already using BIM—have a lot to learn from this report.”

–Sean McGuire, Director, Innovative Technologies, at MCAA

By using BIM, mechanical contractors have also been able to leverage the technology to conduct more analysis on their projects.
• Over 70% report that they use BIM for shop drawings and spatial coordination on half or more of their projects.
• Nearly two thirds (61%) report using BIM for constructability evaluation on more than half of their projects.

“Use of BIM for spatial coordination and constructability evaluation provides these contractors with a clear advantage,” says Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “They can address issues before construction begins, which saves both time and money, and can even help improve safety by avoiding rework.”

However, there are still challenges that prevent these contractors from fully leveraging the use of BIM. The biggest challenges include training needs for employees and lack of available manpower to create BIM models. In addition, these contractors struggle with full engagement with BIM across the project team, with lack of support for BIM from other important trades, the issue of other stakeholders on their projects not using BIM and poor-quality BIM use by other stakeholders also presenting significant challenges. Addressing these issues will allow even more contractors to more fully experience the benefits of using BIM collaboratively on their projects.

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