Is BIM a blessing or a curse for dealers?


As we draw closer to the government’s 2016 deadline for a minimum of collaborative 3D BIM for central government contracts, CEDA chairman and Vision CK’s managing director, Jack Sharkey, takes an exclusive look at what the implications might be for catering equipment distributors.

"There may be a logical reluctance from catering equipment distributors to not really consider the impact of BIM on their business, especially if they are not involved in central government tier-one projects. However, from my own experience with the UK Foodservice BIM Standards working group and developing guidance with CESA, FCSI and BIM Academy, ignoring the formal establishment of BIM could be a mistake.

I know that more and more architects and main contractors on private sector projects are utilising the benefits of BIM and they expect the catering equipment distributors they work with to be doing the same.

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Consulting our members, we understand that there are mixed views on the need to implement BIM and that to some extent there is a potential problem of end-users not appreciating that the standard of drawings required has changed.

The following feedback from Colin Chettleburgh, director of Broadland Catering Equipment and Jonathan Elcock of Ceba Solutions highlights some of the concern around BIM and its impact on smaller distributors.

Colin commented: “I have followed the BIM issue with interest since it first arose. In simple terms, we have, as yet, made no preparations for it. It is a paradox that the whole issue is totally counter-productive in meeting the government’s own stated goal of opening up public sector business to small companies.

"We work hard at providing a quality offering (including 3D, full colour rendered CAD images) to our projects customers and, in a business of our size, the level of skill, training and investment required is highly demanding, and I often feel the costs are disproportionate to the return we get.

“Out of a simple shortage of the necessary resources, I have had to take the view that we simply cannot devote even more time and money on a sector which is so fiercely competitive.

“My prediction is that the arrival of BIM will exclude smaller companies such as ours from public sector projects and, ironically, will therefore reduce levels of competition. That is good news for the smaller number of providers remaining but I am sure was not the intention of the public sector procurement bodies when they instigated this policy.”

Considering some of the technical challenges, Jonathan said: “We have invested in Autocad Revit LT alongside the standard Autocad package with an introductory three-day on-site training from Cadpoint.

“This is all very well, but if you are unable to continually use the Revit program a lot of what you learn is forgotten. The investment in training, software and hardware upgrades to run the new software is significant for an SME. It’s also not practical to run the usual drawing requirements through Revit as very few manufacturers have developed BIM block libraries for their equipment.

“In my view, one of the biggest challenges is educating clients regarding the quality of the original drawings that need to be supplied, as most think a non-scaled PDF will suffice.”

Clearly there are very valid concerns around what BIM will do to help, or hinder, smaller catering equipment distributors and CEDA’s work with partners on developing guidance should be a first port of call for those who are not sure how to proceed.

It is true to say that larger businesses and equipment manufacturers are more likely to have the financial and human resources to invest in adopting BIM, but remember smaller businesses are frequently more agile than larger ones and better able to adapt to change.

I hope that with industry-wide collaboration we can bring the benefits and opportunities to smaller catering equipment distributors. Although we are still in the adoption phase for BIM in the UK, from my own perspective as managing director of Vision Commercial Kitchens I can see some of the benefits of using BIM with our clients. These include accurate visualisation of schemes, auto-scheduling and a noticeable reduction in the number of drawings.

As BIM starts to impact more and more on catering equipment distributors I think we will also see a change in the way that catering equipment distributors are engaged by their clients, or main contractors.

The nature of BIM will mean we will probably have to be engaged much earlier in the contract process and I believe as an industry we must establish and adopt clear guidelines on how and when we are engaged. The same has to be said with our colleagues in the design/consultant community, such as those represented by FCSI.

Re-emphasising the point, I am convinced we will see the growing adoption and use of BIM outside of public sector projects. The guidance statement I mentioned earlier is available on the CEDA, FCSI and CESABIM websites and it is a good first step to engage with BIM.

However, to really get behind BIM, manufacturers have to produce the information that will be required to incorporate into designs. I believe those manufacturers which don’t provide the information that is required for BIM will start to get left behind and lose market share because it will be easier to specify a manufacturer that has produced BIM models and information in the required format.

I see BIM helping our industry to evolve in the same way that Auto CAD did 25 years ago."

Tags : BIMcatering equipmentdealersDistributors
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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