How Glass and Metal  
Manufacturers are Embracing  
Building Information Modeling  
b y N i c k S t . D e n i s  
44  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | November 2017  
www.usglassmag.com  
y virtually all accounts in the architecture and construction  
world, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is here to stay.  
Whether it has fully taken off (and where exactly it’s headed)  
depends on who you ask. It has, however, been adopted throughout  
much of the building products industry, and many glass and metal  
companies have gotten on board in recent years.  
Most suppliers have realized that BIM is inevitable. The degree to  
which they should focus their energy on this technology remains  
a bit murky. To clear some of the air, we asked leading suppliers of  
architectural glass and metal about where they stand on the use of  
BIM.  
Nearly 20 of the most prominent glass and commercial fenestra-  
tion producers in North America—representing a significant share  
of the market—participated in our survey. These include flat glass  
suppliers, fabricators and manufacturers of glazing systems such as  
curtainwall, commercial windows and storefronts. Here’s what we  
learned.  
The Results  
B
Editor’s Note: Roughly two-thirds of respon-  
dents were manufacturers of architectural  
metal/framing and fenestration systems. The  
rest were major glass suppliers.  
Does your company have  
BIM components (objects,  
models, etc.) readily available?  
NO  
14%  
On Top of Their Game  
A strong majority of companies that responded to the survey  
86 percent) currently have BIM components, such as objects and  
(
models, readily available. They are keeping their information up to  
date—nearly the same percentage of suppliers have updated or cre-  
ated BIM content within the last year.  
YES  
86%  
This content typically is developed from a collaborative effort, as  
more than half of manufacturers say their BIM components are cre-  
ated by a combination of in-house staff and third parties. Less than  
one-fifth of suppliers develop their BIM content exclusively in-house,  
while a quarter of companies leave it completely to a third party.  
On average, glass and metal suppliers rate the complexity of their  
BIM content as moderate—content is not bare-bones generic, but  
has ample room for more specifics and variations.  
Are your BIM components  
developed in-house or by an  
outside party?  
A Growing Focus  
In the last two years, most manufacturers responding to the sur-  
vey have seen an increase in demand from the architecture and con-  
struction community for BIM resources on their products. This has  
prompted more than 75 percent of them to put an increased empha-  
sis on BIM in the timeframe, whether that meant developing BIM  
content or even just exploring the possibility of doing so.  
A majority of suppliers anticipate a continued increase in demand  
for BIM content in the next two years,though just under half of com-  
panies think they’ll be increasing their emphasis on BIM during that  
span. Manufacturers were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 how im-  
portant it is for them to have BIM content readily available.The aver-  
age among respondents was right in the middle at 4, or “moderately  
important.”  
In-House  
17%  
25%  
58%  
Outside Party  
Combination of Both  
When is the last time your  
company updated or created  
any BIM content?  
Where it’s Coming From  
All survey respondents say architects are the primary requesters  
of BIM content. While most say they’ve discussed BIM with glazing  
contractors at some point,this does not happen often.Some say they  
have never had BIM discussions with contract glaziers.  
Project scale appears to have some impact on BIM activity, as ap-  
proximately half of respondents say they get requests for this content  
only on large projects. However, the other half of them sees BIM re-  
quests on projects of all sizes.  
8
8
8
4%  
%
%
Within the last year  
More than a year to four years ago  
More than four years ago  
continued on page 46  
www.usglassmag.com  
November 2017 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
45  
Wconhtaint’usedthfreomBIpMageId4e5a?  
Who is primarily  
requesting BIM  
components from your  
company?  
On a scale of 1-7, how detailed would you say the  
BIM content for  
your products is?  
4
1
4
7
=Very basic and generic  
=moderately detailed but room for additional information  
=extremely detailed with all characteristics and variations we can think of covered  
Architects 100%  
In the last two years, has your  
company seen an increase,  
6
9%  
decrease or no change in  
0
%
0%  
Engineers  
demand from the architecture  
and construction community for  
BIM resources on your products  
compared to before then?  
Glazing  
Contractors  
Many architects are  
No Change 23%  
using BIM in the initial  
design stage of prod-  
ucts. When they use  
a specific manufac-  
turer’s models, that  
manufacturer tends  
to be specified as the  
basis for design.”  
8
%
We’ve hosted and updated flat glass BIM  
files for several years, but see few requests  
for them. Architects have told us that they use  
default files for glass color and really only need  
BIM files for fenestration systems.”  
—Metal Supplier  
Glass Supplier  
Do you ever have any  
conversations with  
glazing contractors  
regarding BIM?  
Please specify where you are  
seeing the most requests for  
BIM information.  
1
5%  
85%  
Yes, but rarely  
No, never  
5
4
4% Only large projects  
6% Projects of all sizes  
0
%
Yes, very  
often  
“BIM is the future, and without it,  
companies will be left behind.”  
—Metal Supplier  
46  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | November 2017  
www.usglassmag.com  
Do you think your  
company will put an  
increased emphasis on  
BIM (either developing  
BIM content or even just  
exploring the possibility  
of doing so) in the next  
two years compared to  
the last two years?  
Looking forward to the next  
two years, do you anticipate an  
increase, decrease or no change in  
demand from the architecture and  
construction community for BIM  
resources on your products?  
6
2%  
No Change 38%  
4
6%  
46Y%es  
0%  
No  
“We have not seen the need to do  
shop drawings in BIM. We do not see  
the point in trying to output drawings  
that look exactly the same only in a  
different program.”  
8
%
Yes  
—Metal Supplier  
The BIM is going  
2
3% 77%  
YES  
Has your company put an  
increased emphasis on  
BIM in the past two years  
NO  
to contain most  
product information  
for cross-trade  
coordination,  
cost estimating,  
scheduling and  
purchasing.”  
(
either developing BIM  
content or even just  
exploring the possibility of  
doing so) compared to the  
prior two years?  
0
%
Unsure  
—Glass Supplier  
On a scale of 1-7, how important is it for manufacturers in  
the industry to have BIM content readily available?  
N i c k S t .  
D e n i s is the  
research editor  
of USGlass  
4
magazine. n  
1
4
7
=not important  
=moderately important  
=very important  
www.usglassmag.com  
November 2017 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
47  

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