BIM Trends to Look for in 2018

 There are several technology trends to keep your eye on in 2018 that will impact the future of BIM for fabrication.  These changes can improve the safety, quality, and productivity of every project that leverages BIM tools.   


There are several unprecedented, well documented challenges facing the construction industry.  A shortage of skilled labor threatens construction quality.  Stagnant productivity compared with other industries threatens the ability of the market to effectively meet demand.  Additionally, when combined, these factors can present our field teams with safety risks.  The following technology trends show the most promise in addressing these concerns:   


  • Component Based Construction 

Component based construction applied well allows contractors to be more like manufacturers.  This approach is well established in the healthcare market with prefabricated head walls, and modular restrooms.  It will allow limited construction resources to produce more work in controlled environments.   

  • Robotics for Fabrication 

When contractors approach their work as manufacturers there are opportunities to leverage robotic tools to improve the efficiency and safety of fabrication.  In this year and in the future robots will be more common in fabrication shops to perform repetitive or dangerous tasks.  Specifically, I expect to see robots performing more measuring, cutting, welding, and material handling tasks.   

  • Virtualization of Workstations 

One of the limiting factors of computer aided design software has been the capabilities of the computers.  Virtualization makes server/ cloud based computing power available to increasingly more capable design solutions.  This will move the constraint from computing power to software design.  Software design will improve due to machine learning and artificial intelligence providing limitless design solutions.    

Generative design, or algorithmic design, allows a designer to provide a software tool with goals and constraints.  Then, the software leverages cloud computing resources to compare 1,000s of design solutions simultaneously to identify the optimal solution(s).  Artificial intelligence and machine learning will allow generative design solutions to account for the many variables in a construction project in a way that improves the safety, quality, and productivity of the team.   


These trends in virtual design, construction and fabrication can reduce project timelines and deliver systems with more creativity and higher quality.  Together, the trends provide a foundation for significant improvements in project delivery methods.   


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About Dan Cotton


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Dan Cotton is the manager of Virtual Construction at McKenney's and is responsible for our BIM and CAD modeling teams. He has been a member of the LEAN Construction Institute (LCI) since 2011 and is currently a core team member of the LCI’s Georgia Community of Practice. Dan holds a Six Sigma Green Belt certification from Georgia Tech and led the LEAN efforts at McKenney's from 2010 through 2013. Prior to his involvement in Virtual Construction and LEAN, Dan was a project manager in the McKenney's New Construction division for six years.

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