Comment: BIM to the rescue

BIM for MEP leading the revival in the Middle East construction industry

Bhushan Avsatthi is an associate director at Hi-Tech iSolutions.
Bhushan Avsatthi is an associate director at Hi-Tech iSolutions.

MEP industry in the Middle East is plagued by many problems, ranging from delayed payments to the sheer amount of wastage arising due to rework on site. The MEP contractor suffers losses that are a sizeable chunk of the project’s total costs. MEP itself usually takes up about 30% of a project’s total construction costs. The situation is fairly grave for MEP contractors and subcontractors, considering these facts.

The MEP designs are, more often than not, in accordance with the local safety norms and energy standards, hoping to earn the project good ratings with agencies such as LEED and Estidama. However, when it comes to the actual MEP fit-outs on site, the project often suffers losses in terms of time, costs, and material, as all of these factors are affected by the amount of rework required to get the systems to be functional.

It is intriguing to consider why it happens. Since the designs conform to strict quality standards, there is a high chance that they cannot be faulted.

In our experience of working for the architecture, engineering and construction industry in general and MEP in particular, the risk of losses arising out of rework is far greater in larger and more complex projects. The prime culprit affecting these projects is not design, but coordination. The amount of paperwork involved in such a project is directly proportional to the complexity and scale of the construction project.

And this is where we believe that smart work rather than hard work will help the MEP contractors succeed in reducing wastage and rework, and improve upon their profit margins. And by smart work, we mean, implementing BIM on their infrastructure and construction projects, if they haven’t started doing that already.

Over the past few years, BIM has steadily improved the accuracy margins for all disciplines across the construction industry, for all geographies. It has seen greater acceptance in the USA and across Europe, with the UK even mandating BIM at level 2 for all its public construction projects. This has also positively impacted the acceptance of and demand for BIM in Middle East and Asia.

Two major global events – the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the Expo 2020 in Dubai – are coming up against the backdrop of a slowly declining dependencey on the oil economy. These events have been instrumental in hauling the construction industry out of the slowdown it faced in the recent past. However, a lot rides on the successful and timely completion of a slew of developmental infrastructure projects in the region.

Construction companies and contractors that have adopted BIM on their projects end up saving up to 35% in costs arising due to rework and wastage. While BIM cannot help the contractors with the payment issues that are common in the industry, it certainly helps them put a stop to the losses that they incur due to undetected clashes found in paper drawings. It is a godsend for developmental infrastructure projects that are revving the construction industry in the MENA region.

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