One of the best things about attending the BIM Symposium @ Build Boston was hearing from Andy Deschenes (of Skanska) and Chris Barry (of Gilbane). They both spoke about how they are using BIM and both said a lot of the same things, with a slightly different perspective.
Andy is a full believer in BIM. At Skanska USA, they are currently using BIM for visualization purposes, safety/logistics plans and visual schedules. In the future, they hope to use it for clash detection and MEP coordination, estimating and compliance with LEED checks. He sees the as-built model as a possibility in the distant future.
Chris, on the other hand, is a skeptic; he believes in the concept of BIM, but wants the practical applications proven to him. Gilbane is currently using BIM for visualization purposes and constructibility reviews. His group usually does 40 reviews/year; their goal for this year is to use BIM for something on half of those.
Hearing the progress from both BIM-users from national and international GCs (who have tons of staff and deep pockets) was refreshing. Tocci, a mid-size CM firm with 2 building information modelers (who have to spend 30-40% of their time on traditional estimating) and a limited number of software licenses, isn't doing so bad.
In the past 6 months, we have modeled 8 or 9 projects to some degree. We have used BIM for visual scheduling on several of our projects. We have virtually detected clashes for part of one of our projects and are creating several more models that will be used for clash detection. Besides doing takeoffs for specific items on specific projects, we are currently setting up a streamlined process for quantity takeoff and cost engineering. We have created a logistics plan for several of our projects. And of course, we are using BIM for visualization purposes.
I was very impressed with the work that Andy and Chris showed. Their projects are impressive, and it is great to see other GC/CM firms who are implementing. It was nice to talk with some other BIM-ers and discuss setbacks and the such.
And of course, it feels good to know that while the big boys have been hesitantly wading in for several years and are still getting their feet wet, we jumped in just 6 months ago and aren't drowning. In fact, we might even have the doggy paddle down.