BIM is still in its early adoption phase among HVAC installers
Over the last decade, the construction sector has slowly but surely shifted towards the digitalisation of processes, with Building information modelling (BIM) being one of the big steps the whole industry has made towards a more efficient and better coordinated construction process. While BIM has already gained its place in the daily work life of architects, other professional groups such as HVAC installers still find themselves in the beginning of the BIM adoption curve. As a part of the European Mechanical Installation Monitor, we have tracked the BIM adoption rate among plumbers and HVAC installers around Europe since 2015. Once again, BIM is the focus of the Q1 2020 edition of the report.
BIM penetration has not changed significantly in the last two years
The installation sector is still in its early BIM adoption phase and the process is going slowly. The latest data show that 31% of installation companies have heard of BIM, while 7% of them have used BIM in one or more of their projects. However, the share of companies using BIM has remained almost unchanged since 2018. In general, this indicates that no big steps have been made by the sector to introduce new ways of working and improve cooperation with other stakeholders in the construction process.
Smaller companies are less familiar with BIM and report the lowest BIM usage
The types of projects worked on and the company size have a high influence on whether installers adopt BIM. Smaller installation companies (up to 5 employees) working mainly on renovation projects are less familiar with BIM; only 1% of them has any experience working with BIM. Bigger companies with more than 5 employees generally do not differ much in their awareness with BIM, but BIM usage is much higher for the biggest installers (with 15 or more employees).
Dutch installers are the frontrunners in BIM usage
The Dutch construction sector is quite far ahead when it comes to BIM; we see the highest BIM usage among Dutch architects (81%) and the highest BIM usage among Dutch installation companies - almost two thirds of the installers have heard of BIM and 19% have already used BIM in projects. On the other hand, German installers are the least involved with BIM — only 1% of them report to have had one project in BIM.
By 2025, BIM usage in the installation sector is expected to reach 11%.
In the coming years, BIM adoption will continue to follow a slow pace with an average of less than 1% of annual growth. The adoption process among installers is much slower when compared to architects and general contractors, for example.
The higher adoption of BIM by other parties, such as architects, engineers, and general contractors, will definitely play a role in stimulating the usage of BIM among HVAC installers — as we saw, big installation companies already do more with BIM than the rest. However, the levels we see among architects look unrealistic to reach by the installation sector. This is mainly due to three reason: 1) architects are involved in an early stage of a construction project, while installation companies are further down the value chain; 2) in the case of complex installations, engineering companies are often involved in the development of the BIM model; and 3) many installers have a lower share of new build works in their portfolio and a great amount of ad-hoc renovation jobs where BIM currently plays no role.
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