I wrote recently (2D to 3D: still a work in progress, updated 27 April 2009) about US rates of adoption of building information modelling, BIM, looking at results – released by Cadalyst‘s Robert Green – focused mainly on US CAD managers. He concluded, somewhat gloomily, that 84% of the AEC/construction industry is 2D, identifying that part of the problem might be attributed to the slow pace of adoption by different parts of the design team. This results in teams reverting to 2D as an easy lowest common denominator.
Some AEC disciplines, though, are clearly warming to the idea of BIM. Another US survey, reported on GoStructural.com, shows that, in March 2009, structural engineers were rapidly gaining an understanding and awareness of BIM, compared to a similar survey three years earlier. “While not all firms are leveraging the technology currently, most respondents believe that BIM use will penetrate the AEC industry as a whole within 10 years.”
In my view, structural engineers have been ahead of the most of the AEC disciplines in adopting 3D, and their optimism regarding the pace at which BIM use will permeate the whole AEC industry is commendable. But other members of the project team will need to catch up with their structural engineering colleagues, and all will need to contribute to finding solutions to some of the training, procurement, contractual, intellectual property and insurance issues that need to be resolved to enable truly integrated project delivery. And perhaps due to the more fragmented and complex nature of UK teams and processes, this may happen earlier in the US than it will in the UK.
I think you’re right that structural is leading the AEC charge to 3D. My survey findings seemed to show that the more analytical the discipline (read that computationally intensive) the more likely that discipline is to use 3D tools.
I also agree that more and more think that BIM technology is ultimately the solution.
However, the actual rates of adopting these game changing 3D technologies are still painfully low.