Think building information modeling (BIM) is only for vertical structures? Think again.

As a recently released SmartMarket Report points out, BIM is increasingly being used for infrastructure projects. According to the report, “Business Value of BIM for Infrastructure: Addressing America’s Infrastructure Challenges through Technology and Collaboration,” nearly half of the organizations surveyed say they’re using BIM on infrastructure projects. This is up from 27 percent just two years ago.

The report also finds that the use of BIM on infrastructure projects is poised for further growth over the next two years—more than half of the organizations currently using BIM for infrastructure expect to be using it on more than 50 percent of their infrastructure projects by 2014.

So why should you be considering using BIM on your next project?

1) BIM’s not just for buildings. And honestly, it’s not just for infrastructure, either. As pointed out in “Beginning with BIM” in the July 2011 issue of Site Prep, the BIM model can be used for the whole lifecycle of the project, from design through construction. For example, it can be used to provide a higher level of accuracy in estimating earthwork quantities and compare a topo of the work performed to the model to check quality and whether contract tolerances are being achieved.

2) BIM experience contributes to higher ROI. According to the SmartMarket Report, more than 40 percent of users who identify themselves as experts in BIM use for infrastructure report an ROI of 50 percent or greater.

3) You think your competitors are using it. According to the report, more than 70 percent of nonusers perceive that their competitors and clients are using BIM. And you know what they say about perception—it’s reality.

4) BIM produces better results. This was evidenced in our July article, where use of the BIM model helped provide progress reports, manage materials and more. With the BIM model, the contractor was able to more reliably predict outcomes. “I think the 3D model is great,” says Bill Sandy, president of Sandy Excavating, in the article. “The model takes all the variables out of the picture.”

Are you already using BIM on your projects? If so, how? What benefits have you seen by doing so?

If you’re not using BIM on your projects, it’s time you gave it some thought. You don’t want to be left in the dust.

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Photo - Beginning with BIM: SmartSite partner Pat Hobbs shows the machine’s location on MESH’s 3D model during a grading simulation.