Report: Construction SMEs missing out on BIM

By Dan Weatherley
The adoption of cutting-edge techniques such as BIM arenot being utilised by many SMEs, according to research by the University of Huddersfield. Resear...

The adoption of cutting-edge techniques such as BIM are not being utilised by many SMEs, according to research by the University of Huddersfield. 

Research has suggested that smaller construction firms are in danger of missing out and not adopting cutting-edge trends and technologies which could leave them with lacklustre operations in comparison to larger firms. 

The University of Huddersfield has released a report titled ‘Lean Construction and BIM in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs in Construction’ which details the use of BIM technology across the construction industry, amongst some other research.

The lead author of the research, Dr Algan Tezel, is a senior lecturer in construction project management at Huddersfield's Department of Architecture and 3D design. He explained that 80% of the construction industry is made up of small and medium sized enterprises which are, more often than not, working as subcontractors for larger firms. 

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Tezel then went on to say: “This is a problem because these two concepts – BIM and Lean Construction – have the potential to change the dynamics of the construction industry. But if you can’t get them into those smaller and medium-sized players, which make up the majority of the industry, then that promise will not materialise.”

He highlighted the need for a greater focus on smaller operators. “They might not have the profile of the larger companies and might not be responsible for the flashier projects, but they are the core people at the building workface”, he said.

Building information modelling (BIM) can bring a plethora of benefits such as the potential for wider collaboration between stakeholders whilst speeding up both design and build processes in addition to better designs via rigorous assessment. Furthermore, BIM can result in better customer services and a more accurate prediction of environmental and life-cycle data.

The research concluded that “the wholesale uptake of BIM and Lean Construction at SMEs is problematic” going on to say “It is not possible, to realise the rhetorical promises of BIM and LC, two of the prominent concepts challenging the traditional practices in construction management, without giving sufficient consideration to SMEs”

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