Study Finds Increased Use of BIM in Water Industry
Emily Pollock posted on May 07, 2018 |
Dodge Data & Analytics’ new SmartReport shows that BIM use is becoming increasingly popular among companies in the water industry. (Image courtesy of Dodge Data & Analytics.)
Dodge Data & Analytics’ new SmartReport shows that BIM use is becoming increasingly popular among companies in the water industry. (Image courtesy of Dodge Data & Analytics.)

In a recent report, Dodge Data & Analytics found that the water industry is increasing its implementation of building information modeling (BIM). These results provide a vast contrast from the firm’s 2012 report, which showed that the water industry had been slower than other industry sectors to implement BIM in its projects.

Published on May 2, The Business Value of BIM for Water Projects SmartReport surveyed 74 companies, and was an implementation rather than an adoption study, meaning that it looked solely at companies that had previously used BIM. As a result, the study didn’t make any comparison to companies that had not yet adopted the technology. The report includes almost 35 pages of data analysis, five case studies of major companies using BIM, and some final thoughts from major industry players.

One of the study's more interesting findings, according to author Donna Laquidara-Carr, is that unlike other infrastructure industries in the U.S., the water industry uses BIM more during the operational phase of business. Of those responding to the survey, 86 percent said that their BIM models are integrated with either asset management or operations and maintenance once the building phase is completed, meaning that BIM use is more lasting and long term. "For such a young industry to have such an immediate focus on the operational stage in the United States is unusual," said Laquidara-Carr in an interview with engineering.com.

The study also found that, among the companies surveyed, certain types of projects were more likely to be done using BIM software. For example, 88 percent of wastewater projects and 79 percent of mining and industrial projects were completed using BIM, as compared to just 52 percent of hydroelectric projects. The overall trend is upward: more companies are using and implementing BIM than when Dodge's 2012 report was published.

According to Laquidara-Carr, the report suggests a reason for the shift: companies that do projects outside of the water industry are bringing their experience back to their water projects. "Once they see how effective BIM is on, say, a transportation project, there's more interest in using BIM," she said.

As for the future of BIM use, both Laquidara-Carr and the report are optimistic. While the water industry appears to still be in the early stages of BIM use, the study's partners hope that the report will open people's eyes to the way the industry can implement the technology. “I think it's really easy to go, ‘Oh, but it doesn't really apply to my industry,’” Laquidara-Carr said. “But I think our report demonstrates that, among those who do have some BIM expertise and are doing it, equally strong benefits are being seen in the water industry.”


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