Advance and implementation of BIM - Central America case

Having been at the BIMSummit in Barcelona, ​​the last week has been exciting. See as different optics, from the skeptics to the most visionary coincide that we are in a special moment of the revolution in industries ranging from the capture of information in the field to the integration of operations in the real time of the citizen. The BIM plays a very important role, in this convergence of the energy of technological ingenuity that is used by the business sector, the demand for better services of the final user of public services and the balance that standardization can exert.

But among the optimistic success stories of the Nordic countries where talking about OpenSource no longer offends anyone's private interests, and the urgency of the technological vanguard countries where the agenda is developed by the private sector, there is the pragmatic reality of the countries where the inefficient performance of the State for its normative role in search of better scenarios of the country. In this case, we talked a little about my last conversation with Gab !, a collaborator from Geofumadas who told me about her vision of BIM in the Central American context in half an hour of coffee.

Realistically, the best experiences of advancement in this context could be hidden by the limited systematic visibility; so we have to resort to what we have heard there. From the outset, there is a greater dissemination of progress in countries such as Costa Rica and Panama, however, in the other countries of the region, although there is knowledge at private levels, the academic and state context is not very visible at the implementation level; if we look at it from the broad perspective of the BIM, which, beyond building modeling, is a strategy that integrates information management and operation management within the framework of adopting standards.


Context BIM Panama

Panama being a country with greater constructive growth there is a little more openness and some urgency. You just have to get off the airport and go through the highway and see that the real estate sector is an exceptional oasis in the Central American area, therefore, the BIM counts as a perfect amalgam of integration of the ecosystem that make up the different physical, computer and operational infrastructures . Above all, remembering what is Panama as a country with a commercial movement with global demand, that can not afford to be left behind.

  • The 14 of July of 2016 the Panamanian Chamber of Construction CAPAC in conjunction with the Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects SPIA and the Universities of Panama, technology and USMA, announced the creation of a technical council that will provide the implementation of the BIM processes, called Forum BIM Panama.
  • There are several entities promoting the use of BIM such as Autodesk, the Bim Forum of Panama, Bentley Systems, PCCad, Blue AEC Studio, Comarqbim, among others.
  • An outstanding BIM project in Panama is the expansion of the Panama Canal.

BIM Model Panama Canal. He received the Autodesk BIM Experience award for the design of his third lock complex.

In general, there is quite a lot of openness in the private sphere, with professional positions asking for BIM mastery as a requirement for the development of their projects.


Context BIM Costa Rica

This country is promoting in some way the use of BIM processes in the new construction. In large part, due to international requirements, some private companies are beginning to implement some processes; however, the labor supply for BIM professionals is limited, if we compare it with the countries of South America. Costa Rica already has its Bim Forum Costa Rica.

  • BIM Forum Costa Rica is a Technical Committee formed with the purpose of promoting the consulted and gradual implementation of the BIM processes in the construction industry.

As an interesting example, in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB, the Infrastructure Management and the Science, Technology and Innovation Division (CTI)), they are working on the incorporation of the BIM in the design and supervision of infrastructure projects.

In Costa Rica, for example, the migration of the design plans to the BIM model and its follow-up during construction was included in the works supervision specifications. That is, 2D plans will be passed to 3D, and quality information, construction sequence (4D) and cost control (5D) will be integrated; This will allow you to know time, effort and incremental costs, to move from a traditional design to a BIM. The yields, costs, deadlines and needs for modification of the work during construction in the San Gerardo - Barranca section will be compared with those of the Limonal - San Gerardo section, which has the same design specifications, and will be constructed simultaneously.

Although there is a long way to go in the region, the results of the pilot will be an incentive for governments to implement BIM and experience the benefits of productivity and efficiency, through a radical change in the way the works are executed.


Context BIM Guatemala

Because it is a large country, there are some significant advances in BIM. We already have the Master in Modeling and Management of Construction Projects BIM Management at the University of Valle de Guatemala and the Universidad del Istmo with a Master in Bim Management.

There are entities that are dedicated to training at Bim, such as Revit Guatemala and GuateBIM (BIM Council of Guatemala). There is some acceptance at the private sector level. An example would be the company Danta Arquitectura that bets to include BIM. And let's not leave behind the distributors of BIM softwares that do not stop promoting this methodology.


BIM context El Salvador

In El Salvador, less information is available. However, projects like the one developed by the company Structuristas Consultores EC developed with BIM stand out.

Project: TIER III data center and corporate office buildings complex of Banco Agrícola, in San Salvador.

  • They are two buildings with a construction area of ​​11,000 m2 including: a data center with characteristics of TIER III and a building of corporate offices of 5 levels.
  • Structural design, HVAC design and multidisciplinary engineering coordination, using BIM tools and progress monitoring with BIM model.
  • Disciplines included: Civil, Structures, Architecture, Electricity, Mechanics, Pipes.

Although this is a project with BIM adoption, with its different disciplines; Of course, the documentation and planning part is not so evident; although yes in its modeling application. In this there is something of information gaps, when a journalistic article or even the academic focus is focused only on the architectural / structural modeling, but forget to consult for the operational phases subsequent to the design until the infrastructure is integrated into the context.


BIM context Nicaragua

Here we find indications of training centers, some congresses although more than at the implementation level, still in formative stage to introduce the BIM. There are some architecture studies that are introducing the term, such as the BRIC study.

As an example, CentroCAD, which in my opinion is one of the best training centers in Nicaragua, its Revit course usually focuses on Architecture and MEP, but we see very little in its offer of structures, costs or simulation of construction. Although BIM is learned, learning to model with software is not the same as understanding procedures in an integral way where the tool is just the means to store and operate the data.

It is a fertile territory of Autodesk that recently held a BIM Congress in Nicaragua; aspect that have moved and continued efforts of Universities and professional associations of Geo-engineering. With the BIM Forum of 2019 held in Managua, with speakers from all over Central America, the Dominican Republic and Colombia, it is evident that in this country there is a lot of work from the private sector, that the academy has an important participation, but above all, the need to concentrate efforts to raise the potential of the BIM to public policies.


BIM context Honduras

Like Nicaragua, it is in a process of socialization, training, congresses and informing construction professionals. There are entities that are dedicated to promoting the implementation of BIM and to train the personnel of the companies, such as PC Software, Cype Ingenieros, and the College of Architects of Honduras.

There is an interest in the private sector to start implementing BIM, always with its limitations. It is interesting the emerging birth of new companies with an innovative vision as Green Bim Consulting that is dedicated to consulting and development of sustainable BIM projects. More solid companies such as Katodos BIM Center are a representative benchmark of Honduras.

In recent months, the private construction industry managed to execute 1,136.8 square meters in different projects in Honduras, the 57,5% was for residential projects; 20,2% commercial, 18,6% in services and 3,7% industrial. Of that amount, a very small part of the buildings made use of non-traditional technology such as the BIM to design projects.

The engineer Marlon Urtecho, general manager of Accensus Structural Systems, confirmed that the advances in construction now allow to visualize the project with greater precision: "Now the architecture offices can expose their projects in third dimension more quickly and with more images", He said. It is clear that a vision like this shows that there is still no clarity about the true scope of the BIM.

Despite the diffuse information that appears from Honduras, the result of the recent March 2019, date of the First BIM Virtual Congress of Central America and the Caribbean. It arrived a little late because the article had already been written, however it brings interesting lights for a following BIM context article in Central America.

Despite the difficulties of the field, in the Honduran industry highlights some progress in the use of BIM (at least at the level of modeling information) especially in the architectural field, which has allowed to show an advance in the design of projects. To the basic actions of the 2 level (BIM Level2) where its application is used as virtual equivalent of the construction elements to each of the pieces that are used for the construction of buildings, which at least in the developed cities is promising.

An article from the newspaper Procesohn stands out, http://proceso.hn/tecnologia/2-ciencia-y-tecnologia/constructores-hondurenos-avanzan-en-el-uso-de-tecnologia-bim.html


After a couple of cups of coffee and a delicious dessert, we almost conluyed with Gab! that the BIM has not finished landing in Central America. Certainly a judicious systematic study is the great void in this matter, by those who must promote innovation and standardization. Sure there are other causes, but in the napkin we note at least the following as priority:

  • The high cost of training staff and the lack of qualified coaches. The BIM Managers are counted on the fingers of the hand; Bearing in mind that bringing an international consultant is quite expensive.
  • The high cost of software licenses (a license in Central America can cost up to 3 times what it costs in Mexico, the US or Chile). The distribution companies attribute it to the low level of sales, so they must raise the prices to meet the goals established by the parent companies. This promotes piracy and fear of implementing BIM because of the penalties that can be received from software distributors.
  • The high cost of the computers that are needed to operate BIM routines, such as integration of interface plugins to external tools or rendering.
  • There is no custom rooted in the planning and rigorous preparation of the documents necessary for the projects. BIM requires filling out forms such as the EIR, BEP, BIM Protocols, following a regulation, etc. -Who has time, when they ask me to start the project yesterday- A jargon known among construction professionals that is definitely not consistent, because when you plan well, you can really make projects in record times.
  • The high level of corruption that characterizes these contexts. Sometimes hiding the information allows raising the cost of the projects, the more general the project, the easier it is to inflate it. We are clear that adopting BIM would break many bad corruption practices in government projects.
  • The professionals of the construction do not want to leave AutoCAD, still in a generality they do not want to understand the potentiality of the 3D modeling. In part, because there must be an equivalent of job offers that compensate the effort of learning, and above all the opportunity to innovate in simplification and optimization when we see the BIM as something more than 3D modeling.
  • The implementation of BIM has its cost, especially in software if you want to work legally; This is not easy for many companies that are struggling to survive in these depressed economies where few are taking large projects by the existing monopoly. And to be a BIM trainer with all of the law, it is necessary to have the licenses in order. A collection of software to train BIM can imply an annual investment of US $ 3,500.00 for a license, in some Central American countries. It would be necessary to see how much of this improves the initiatives of software as a service carried by large software providers.

In conclusion, Central America in general is in a process of BIM socialization, we work with 3D modeling, but very limited at the level of scope that we see in other contexts. For now, we leave pending a new update of this article, aware that the recent Congress we have a new reading after information that unfortunately is not systematized beyond the exchange of specific events.

However, the other side of the coin in Central America is the interesting opportunity if the academic, private, and professional actors manage to penetrate the government sector before the benefits and needs that exist for standardization.

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