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Mechanical and HVAC contractors are sophisticated users of Building Information Modelling (BIM) software but they cannot fully leverage the value of the technology because of training and manpower issues.

It is also a struggle to get other project stakeholders equally engaged in BIM, according to the BIM study which was released by Dodge Data & Analytics in partnership with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and Pinnacle Infotech, and with the support of Autodesk.

Pinnacle Infotech vice president, Scott Pittman, said virtual construction has come a long way in a very short time.  “The days of the chalk line and paper documents are decreasing and we are seeing more laser scanners and layout tools to help with modular construction and premanufactured assemblies,” he said.

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, labour 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 labour productivity, increased profitability, better utilization of resources and improved cost performance.

“BIM is an increasingly important and incredibly complex part of the building process,” says Sean McGuire, Director, Innovative Technologies, at MCAA. “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.”

The report is available for free download at: www.construction.com/toolkit/reports

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