ECA survey warns SME building services firms are not ready for the government’s 2016 BIM deadline

Electrical wiring

Small and medium-sized firms could find themselves unintentionally ‘frozen out’ from competing for tens of billions of pounds of central government contracts when the government’s 2016 BIM deadline kicks in, according to a recent survey by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA).

The ECA survey, carried out with industry partners and in conjunction with Building magazine, shows that over half of contractors (54%) with a turnover of less than £1 million are ‘not ready at all’ for BIM, while 3 in 10 firms (30%) with earnings between £1 million and £20m were in the same position.

The ECA has published the further results from the survey after Building trailed the survey findings last month. Full results will be released later this year.

With the government deadline for the mandatory use of ‘BIM Level 2’ on all Whitehall-procured contracts looming, 11% of larger M&E firms with turnover over £20m say they are not at all ready for BIM, with the majority either fully ready, or nearly fully ready.

The survey also found -

  • Only 1 in 3 contractors (34%) with turnover below £1m have a ‘BIM champion’, compared to almost 3 out of 4 firms (72%) with turnover above £20m.
  • 8 out of 10 firms (80%) with turnover below £1m do not have a ‘BIM planning group’, compared to just 1 in 3 larger contractors (36%), with turnover above £20m.
  • Only 1 in 4 small firms said there is enough ‘practically useful and publically available’ information on BIM, compared to over half of larger companies (54%).
  • Almost 7 in 10 of all respondents (69%) said they do not have a suitable BIM management process in place yet.

ECA director of business services Paul Reeve commented: “Our survey shows that the majority of building services SMEs are not ready for BIM and could find themselves effectively frozen out from central government contracts.

“The ECA has developed a four-point action plan to help building services firms prepare for BIM Level 2, and we will be working with our industry partners to drive this plan forward.”

The ECA has set out a four-point action plan to help drive BIM adoption:

  • A ‘BIM readiness checklist’ will be released shortly, to help firms identify the necessary steps to ensure they are prepared for BIM Level 2.
  • A ‘BIM jargon buster’ will also be made freely available, to help firms navigate through the maze of BIM terminology and acronyms and work out what BIM means.
  • Case studies will be developed to broaden the understanding of what it takes to engage with a BIM project.
  • Finally, the ECA will work with partners over a range of awareness, training and deployment issues, including efforts to develop a common approach towards the use of ‘BIM objects’.

The ECA’s sector-wide ‘BIM readiness’ survey was backed by a range of partners and supporters across building services. They included the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), BSRIA, Building and Engineering Services Association (B&ES) and SELECT (Please see Notes to Editors for full list).