What Ails BIM Implementation in India?

Opinions Dated:  July 21, 2015
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BIM Implementation, Image source: http://www.directionsmag.com/

Building Information Modeling (BIM) - It is actually constructing a virtual building digitally on the computer - exactly the same way a building gets physically constructed. Unlike 3d visualization models done by various modeling software, a BIM model done with BIM software (more known as BIM solution rather than a software) is a super intelligent model where every entity has built-in intelligence as to its characteristics and as to what it actually represents in real world scenario. 

When AEC firms in the rest of the world has almost moved over from CAD to BIM since almost 7 or 8 years back, India is still in its infancy on this and severely lagging behind - excepting a few firms operating at MNC levels. A mid-sized or a smaller firm would not venture into this - for valid reasons. I too fell victim to this (mine is a small firm with myself as the Architect & Designer and 5 diploma holders as my assistants in my architectural practice - but in spite of my smallness I am fortunate to handle larger projects too and my office gives so much of details that nearly 300 to 350 detailed drawings are given for a single high end residence) spending huge amount of money but ultimately did not succeed. This has happened to many a mid-sized and smaller from across the country. Hence this article - which was chiefly written to give it to Autodesk India. Even many larger firms whou bought BIM packages with multiple licenses hoping to implement BIM shelved their packages and went back to plain CAD.

This article is based on my own personal experience as well as research done through various Autodesk Revit /BIM forums on the internet and discussions I have had with a couple of BIM experts (including one Autodesk BIM Evangelist in Australia - an Indian living there & having consultancy practice as BIM expert advisor to many corporate AEC firms there.. He happened to discuss with me for half a day in my office on this topic raised be me.).

Let me make it very clear that whatever opinions expressed by me here is my own personal opinion formed with information I received from so many forums, etc. and it is not meant to offend anybody but to point out why this is not taking off in India and what measures should be taken by Autodesk India to make it successful in India.

Let me now simply present the compilations of mails which I had sent to Autodesk India:

Autodesk is trying its best to promote Autodesk BIM here in India - even to the extent of saying that mid-sized and small offices - even a tiny office - would benefit and show more productivity and earn more money by rendering better services through BIM. IMHO, this seems to be a far-fetched idea. Autodesk, in order to promote their BIM in India, puts up success stories on their websites of Indians who have done BIM implementation. But these success stories belong to very large firms who could work past the hurdles by using expensive BIM experts OR some of these firms have their base in U.S. & the U.S. office is helping the Indian office in getting past the hurdles.

The main hurdle being that there are no Indian Content in their libraries (no typical Indian components - even generic ones - which would represent correctly in the drawings & model as Indian components / “families” as they are known as. In fact, in their libraries, there is a special folder for INDIA also. But this INDIA folder mostly has only the components /families found in the European/U.S. folders - even the doors & windows provided in INDIA folder cannot be used by us - this is only a small example…more of this to follow.

The point I am making is this:

Regarding their showcasing Indian success stories, neither Autodesk nor anybody else could take this is as a typical Indian scenario office using BIM or Revit extensively. Many of these Indian offices are helping the U.S. Office in International projects and they also do some Indian projects in India.

Autodesk are picking up only offices of this kind and projecting to their potential customers by citing these kinds of offices that Revit / BIM has taken a stronghold in India also. (When they represent only very large offices)

Why don't they pick up & identify offices like I have - in other places in India and let them find out if they had been successful in implementing Revit work flow - not doing cartoon 3D but real serious Revit / BIM work. Only then they would know the reality.

Let them pick up about 20 offices across India in tier 2 cities (typical setup of my office who are doing small scale projects like I am doing), and prove to me that these small offices have switched over to Revit and have become more productive & earning much more money than before.

It is Autodesk India's foremost responsibility to help Indian small offices who are trying to use Revit productively by giving them full support in providing Indian content - in all categories like they have provided for other advanced countries.

What steps has Autodesk India taken up so far in this?  

Now, let me put this in another manner - how BIM implementation became successful in U.S. and how users of CAD,  transitioning to BIM could do it in a relatively much shorter time compared to Indians who aspire to transition to BIM here in India.

1.  In U.S., most of the manufacturers or vendors of Building/ Architectural Components / Assemblies have BIM Families created at their own expenses to very high levels of detail as a 3D Revit / BIM family. They give away these families to the users there either free of cost or sell them at nominal costs. So the users there simply have to insert these readily available families into their Revit models. They need to only create such families of such components not available through these sources when they do buildings with highly customized non-standard components. This was also confirmed to me by the Australia Autodesk BIM Evangelist and through my research on the internet.

Few examples of such families available in U.S. & other advanced countries:

These would not be just highly detailed 3D components - they also carry the information / intelligence as to the energy factor, specifications of what all sub components used, etc. etc. 

a) Doors & Windows including French windows, bay windows, and a variety of what all are being manufactured by the Door/Window manufacturer - including sophisticated assemblies.

b) Plumbing Fixtures, Sanitary Fixtures like EWC, Bath Tubs, etc. and every other component needed for toilets.

c) Electrical Fixtures like switches with panels, switch gears, electrical gadgets, home appliances, Lighting fixtures, and firefighting systems - all with all kinds of information attached to them- brand after brands.

d) Furniture from furniture manufacturers, Window blinds & accessories from window blind manufacturers.

e) Rolling shutters and the like, Gates – openable & siding type - both manually operated and automated systems.

f) Even drive ways with paver blocks or some other materials with all their substrates to form drive ways or roads, etc.

g) Wall cladding materials with all their sub-assemblies and substrates etc.

h) Elevators & Escalators & travelators - one or two companies even give away plugins where one could specify the model, its capacity, its speed, etc. and the plugin would instantly produce the 3D family and one needs to simply insert that elevator in the Revit model and it punches correct holes in all the floors including information attached to these like energy consumption, its weight, its dynamic load, etc. etc. 

i) Railing manufacturers give away Revit families of whatever they manufactured.

j) Hardware manufactures give away all kinds of hardware you could think of - brand by brand.

k) Furniture systems & assemblies for various types of applications - in offices, in kitchens, also brand by brand.

Why I am mentioning brand by brand is that the specs, style, and the material properties etc. etc. varies with model to model and from brand to brand. This applies to all Revit families given away by all kinds of manufacturers or vendors.

And what I have mentioned above are only few examples.

2. And when any specialized or customized highly detailed component/family is required, either the AEC Offices have staff knowledgeable enough to create these or they outsource them from BIM experts who are available in great number there - one need not search for them - and it is not monopolized by small groups - a large number of experts are available across the country - so they do the job work at competitive charges.

3. Availability of numerous training centres, or trainers in most of the cities - when I say training centers & trainers - these facilities or the trainers have very deep knowledge in BIM so as to train the aspirants to very high advanced levels - in whatever fields they would like to expertise. They are not dumb training centers or dumb trainers. They are people who possess real knowledge to very high levels and they are available in great number - not just scattered here & there across the country.

Apart from these training centres, even greater number of online training centres - who do one to one training by screen sharing with advanced methods are available there in U.S.

4. When an AEC Office there aspires to move over to BIM, there are experts available there to advise these offices & these experts research and explore what that particular office does routinely and in what manner the office should implement BIM and in what phases to implement them and also advise them on how to get training which was apt to that particular office. This is one of the most important factors in successful implementation of BIM - Every office implements it in a different way - some methods may be inefficient and some methods would be very efficient. The BIM advisor gives them proper advise till the time full implementation is successfully achieved in any particular office. Again such people are available in plenty, I am told.

5. Expenses on Software Vs. Remuneration: This is again an important factor. In U.S. purchase and maintenance of software costs are very, very low when compared to other costs of running the establishment/office. So the affordability is very high towards purchase of software and even paying subscriptions. Their customers / clients understand the cost of software used and they pay them enough remuneration to counter all these costs. I have mentioned only a few points above. All these become more & more important when the establishment or office is smaller. 

So now to simply conclude on “What Ails BIM Implementation in India”:

It Is Simply the ABSENCE of all I Have Mentioned above in this article.

Points I have discussed above are compilation from several mails I had written to Autodesk India during various times and so i might have missed a few points here & there. 

What i had written to Autodesk were not complaints but suggestions on how to successfully implement BIM in Indian AEC firms - even small firms, by their providing relevant content and encouraging and pushing the product vendors to provide their products as BIM models.

All this did not go in vain. I was finally heard. Autodesk (sales) Country Head met me in my office some time back (had come from Mumbai) and heard all these from me and he has promised that he would take very positive steps on my advice on these and make a kick start to creation of Indian” families” with the help of their “partner vendors” and give them to Indian customers. Let me hope this becomes a success.

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