The BIM bandwagon is not slowing down. Instead, it appears to be accelerating as we head towards the UK Government’s initial target of “Level 2″ adoption by 2016, and with more specifiers likely to seek BIM information, product manufacturers need to be thinking about how they will respond.
There are two elements to content creation in this area: one relates to the production of BIM objects that users can download and include in their designs, the other relates to more general areas of content marketing that will help people find the product, identify its relevance, and later – ideally – specify the product.
Over the past year or so, BIM-savvy manufacturers have begun to start working working with service providers such as NBS’s National BIM Library, BIMobject and Bimstore to create objects that can be easily downloaded and imported into designs. These services help manufacturers create objects with standardised information structures so that they can be used consistently, and will need to be in multiple software formats if firms want to work with users of different BIM authoring tools (there is also an open data standard – Industry Foundation Classes, IFC).
As well as geometrical information, these objects incorporate product metadata, from details of the manufacturer to object properties that may be needed by future owners/operators of built assets for effective facilities management, repair and maintenance.
The BIM component does not stand alone. Manufacturers need to provide other data to specifiers and to other professionals who may need information about the material or component throughout its operational life. This means manufacturers will still need to invest in their own websites (perhaps with blogs), data-sheets, CPD materials, specification clauses, installation guides, and operation and maintenance manuals, augmented – increasingly – by photographs, videos and other content, and all capable of being shared and recommended to other potential customers (think Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, SlideShare, etc).
They will also need to be thinking about partnerships with other content delivery websites – such as SpecifiedBy – so that their latest objects and supporting content are always available and easily found by online searchers. And there is an opportunity for leading manufacturers to become ‘opinion leaders’ regarding their products and BIM through CPD, face-to-face events, webinars, and other content that is optimised for search and for sharing.