5 Reasons BIM Technology is Vital: Navigating the Construction Industry’s Recovery Now — and in the Future

As firms pivot from the global health crisis, BIM technology enhances prefab and modular design, remote work, job site safety and productivity.

With nearly 200 employees and an average of 80 projects at any given time, MCL Construction represents a sprawling, full-service firm with a reputation for excellence. But for years, executives didn’t have a standardized method to see key metrics necessary to understand the business as a whole and make smart business decisions.

That all changed in 2018, when MCL brought in U.S. CAD to help its team implement BIM software across all departments. The software provided better data standardization for safety checklists, equipment-maintenance reports and feld information about any project. And because everyone was now using the same system, the company finally had a single source of truth for key business functions such as tracking manpower, submitting punch lists and assigning issues to subcontractors while tracking progress.

Even partners such as architects, suppliers and project consultants have adopted the tools. “Collaboration is facilitated through the system, and we can put everyone into the project and have them access the same information,” said Tim Tiensvold, director of innovation at MCL. “It’s easy to track, and we don’t have to pursue people, because they’re receiving automated reminders.”

Additionally, company executives can use all that data in powerful ways.

“We’re monitoring 82 active projects, from building a classroom space to a $50 million addition,” Tiensvold said. “We’re able to review user activity and determine who in the company is proficient at certain things. The data in the system is being used to drive better decisions and provide insight.”

Having that kind of anywhere/anytime data insight has always been important. But for companies such as MCL, the recent global health crisis has made it vital.

“A lot of companies are in high gear trying to make up ground that they lost to quarantine downtime and especially if they’ve had a job site shutdown due to an outbreak,” said Andrell Laniewicz, senior technical specialist with U.S. CAD. “They’re also having to seriously rethink labor.”

In fact, amid the 2020 global health crisis, nearly 70% of construction firms said they had work canceled, and nearly 50% furloughed or terminated employees, according to AGC surveys.2 And although the industry is regaining its footing, the long-term outlook remains uncertain. “Construction may have held up longer than many sectors once the pandemic hit. But the industry’s recovery will also take much longer, while some segments may not get back to early-2020 spending or employment levels for many years,” warned Ken Simonson, chief economist at AGC.

The ROI of BIM Technology

Savvy construction frms are doubling down on BIM software that gives them real-time data and visibility needed to coordinate, communicate and document work among various project teams whether they’re on-site or remote. Today’s leading software allows supervisors to manage shifts and do more prefab and modular design, further reducing crew sizes, which allows for crucial social distancing. As labor shortages worsen — and supervisors have to get more creative about how to keep workers safe, yet productive — the software also enables remote hiring, along with labor sharing/shifting, by effectively increasing the labor pool to anywhere in the country.

“We’ve always been saying that if you’re not innovating, you’re losing your edge,” Laniewicz said. “And then this comes along and everybody’s fnally forced to face it. You either stop working and shutter the doors, or you fgure out a way to keep working. The way to keep working has been through BIM-enabled technologies.”

Laniewicz added that leading BIM-software interfaces are more user-friendly and training time drastically reduced. “People are really blown away by how far that technology has come,” she said.

“You either stop working and shutter the doors, or you fgure out a way to keep working. The way to keep working has been through BIM-enabled technologies.”Andrell Laniewicz, senior technical specialist, U.S. CAD.