Our BIM Journey… So Far

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Our BIM Journey

The Cubicle Centre Building Information Modelling (BIM) journey has gathered real pace over the last twelve months.

After my talk at the launch of BIM4SMEs in April this year, I have since realised the scale of interest in this journey and thought what better time to reveal our progress with BIM so far…

Why point this out you may ask? Two reasons.

Firstly, this is a great opportunity for Cubicle Centre to showcase real success with BIM and secondly, I am personally passionate about the progression of BIM in the UK – put simply; I believe BIM is currently THE common sense solution to so many issues in the Construction Industry. As it stands though, many more manufacturers need to get involved and understand “BIM is here to stay“, (not my words – Chloe Smith’s – Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform).

The Journey Begins

Late 2011 after an initial meeting with Bimstore.co.uk, I saw the potential in BIM from a Production perspective and not just as a Marketing / Specification tool.

To explain this… Here at Cubicle Centre we pride ourselves not only on functional products at sensible prices, but just as importantly, on efficiency.
Offering some of the shortest lead times in the cubicle industry, we are always looking for ways to improve this service to our customers and ‘BIM’ presented itself as a solution to better our processes.

BIM for Production

Now without giving too much away to the prying eyes of the competition… We intend to streamline the Production process by utilising the power of Autodesk Revit (chosen software) with the intelligence of our product BIM components (created by Bimstore.co.uk). This combination will allow us to output multiple professional drawings and instant Works Orders – neither of which we have previously had the luxury.

Additional to the reduced risk of human error, estimates suggest we can shave a third off office-based Production time with this improved system.

Keep checking the Washroom Review website later this year for a Case Study on this integration.

Budgeting for BIM

The fact that I could add a ‘Production’ angle to the BIM proposal made the investment an easy decision for the Directors at Cubicle Centre.

This was backed up by an understanding that BIM would create a level-playing field in the specification market and allow smaller companies like ourselves, to compete with much larger organisations – a lot of whom currently, (in my opinion), are quite happy to sit on their backsides and hide behind established brand names, hoping this ‘BIM thing’ will pass. It won’t.

Take note SME’s – this is your chance to turn the tables on the so-called ‘big-boys’!

Anyway, back to point. There was no doubt BIM would be a significant investment for Cubicle Centre so I suggested Marketing savings which could be put straight into the “BIM Bank”.

Budgeting for BIM
We have cut our costs on print based; Literature, Advertising and Product Directories over the last twelve months which has allowed us to invest in BIM with little extra added to the budget.

  • Increasing website visitor numbers allowed us to make the most of Digital Brochures and reduce printed brochure costs.
  • More and more people are turning to search engines to answer their questions. Current success with our Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy has resulted in big savings on Print Advertising.
  • In a recent survey 85% of specifiers agreed that they prefer to find their product information online. This stat finally confirmed that 2013 will be our last year in printed Product Directories.

For the Marketing Department, BIM has been the catalyst for Cubicle Centre to fully embrace the inevitable shift to digital.

Success… So Far

Being one of the first ‘BIM ready’ manufacturers in the UK has opened up new doors for Cubicle Centre.

Our early involvement ensures we are not missing out on any specifications currently out there and the Sales team have started to notice enquiries relating to BIM projects.

The subject is also proving a great conversation starter and enabling us to have discussions with people in the Construction Industry we have traditionally found difficult to engage with.

This brings me nicely onto the next area of the business that BIM has influenced.

From a Marketing perspective, having something fresh and exciting to talk about has been a lifesaver (personally that is!). In what is now my ninth year at Cubicle Centre, I can confidently say that the subject of ‘toilet cubicles’ doesn’t get any easier to work with.

The Cubicle Centre #bimlove Twitter campaign this February was a success and contributed to component download figures which currently stand in excess of 3,500.

Cubicle Centre #bimlove Mugs

Also, to have the Cubicle Centre brand associated with such a forward thinking and exciting technology is a real privilege. Considering we are a ‘small’ business in such a vast industry I believe this is a major success and gives us a great platform to build on.

Off the back of the general growing interest in BIM we have seen potential suppliers keen to find out more.

In March this year Cubicle Centre launched a new Partnership with Delabie – Europe’s largest brassware manufacturer. Initial discussions were based on BIM and the potential for future collaboration concerning our components. Would this deal have happened had we not been involved with BIM? One observation I can offer is that this Partnership and similar developments of the business have created a real buzz within the team and a collective desire to push-on to the next level.

The Future

The next major step (internally) is to integrate ‘BIM’ into the Production process.

With a new BIM Technician (James) on board, hopefully this will be the case in the next month or so. James has learnt basic software skills very quickly and, with 1 or 2 days training, we are confident he’ll have us up-and-running soon (no pressure). I also know he can’t wait to get through the growing pile of BIM related documents I have for him! On a serious note, James will become our in-house expert on the topic and is very much looking forward to working closely with specifiers in the future.

improve-information-in-bim

So to end on, something I believe every manufacturer involved in BIM needs to continually work on is “Improving the I in BIM”. This is not about quantity but most certainly quality.

I will make it my mission this year to ensure the data within Cubicle Centre BIM components is both helpful and necessary.

However, this requires collaboration so, throughout the the building lifecycle, from Architects to Facilities Managers – I’m all ears and would love to hear your thoughts about component data.

Thanks for sticking with me through this piece.
Now come on UK manufacturers – let’s have more of you excited about BIM…