Will Price, Architectural Technologist for Sanderson Weatherall, gives his thoughts about the current state of BIM in the construction industry.
“For those that aren’t familiar with the term, BIM stands for Building Information Modelling, a very hot topic in construction circles.
The basis of BIM is that it allows, even forces, everyone to work on the same electronic model of a project as it evolves. Designers and engineers know as much as each other, instantly, so clashes are avoided and costly mistakes can predicted before they happen. Sounds all a bit advanced for good old Sanderson Weatherall? Well you will be pleased to know that under my direction, we are at the forefront of this technology and telling others how to do it!
I am charged with the task that no matter how the outside industry accepts the challenge, Sanderson Weatherall will utilise BIM and in particular Autodesk’s Revit platform for 100% of all drawing and design information. And I’m aiming to do this at no additional cost to our clients.
I read a recent article in the RICS Modus magazine and this gave me a good basis for discussion. I would like to start off by discussing the barriers for implementation of BIM in the construction industry and hence its slower-than-anticipated adoption. Modus put forward the following factors:
· Intellectual copyright and the nervousness surrounding architects, designers and manufactures with regard to sharing work flows of information resulting in dumbing down of information passed on to clients and facilities managers
· Constraining creativity by the use of standard components
· Lack of client understanding of the long term whole life benefits of developing information in a BIM environment.
· Clients’ desire to rebuild the team for every project instead of utilising established teams for project delivery.
· Information structure and data formats
> Reluctance from governing bodies to standardise components
· Where’s liability in a collaborative, non-linear construction process
> Who owns the construction model and in conflict where does responsibility lie?
· Reluctance from current industry professionals to upskill and contribute to the changing face of the construction industry
> Resulting in design consultants charging fees to develop BIM information as specialist consultants need to be brought in to deliver projects.
> Outsourcing of design information to specialist sub consultants resulting in lack of home grown talent
So the question I ask is why adopt BIM and what are the possible solutions to the barriers to implementation? This is my take on the potential solutions put forward my Modus
· A similar model to that of the construction industry can be observed in the automotive industry where in 90s implementation of similar systems saw a significant jump in productivity with design times reduced by up to 70%, quality standards increased and the general labour reduced to 10% for like for like products.
> While some of these won’t be popular with certain elements of the construction industry I think it has to be accepted that the cost of construction needs to be controlled and first and foremost for clients the build and running costs of new developments must be reduced.
· Facilities management can account for up to 4 times the profit of the initial construction process and hence if BIM can increase profitability in the construction process it can be a significant benefit to FM providers in increasing profitability
> ultimately reducing costs for owners and occupiers potentially transforms the whole industry FM model
· In terms of creativity we must accept that the industry requires standardisation with projects utilising more uniform components. Some would argue that this takes away the very core of design but as I said, the automotive industry has achieved successful design while maximising prefabrication and standardisation and profitability.
> Great bodies like the National Building Specification are working to develop the National BIM Library this moves towards such information but with so many individuals working independently and afraid to share families we must be able to come together as an industry to work together.
· With reference to intellectual property while yes the sharing of models opens up a can of worms with regard to sharing of information, most professionals would agree that appointing the likes of Foster and Partners is not to gain their experience in CAD systems and data flows but instead to gain their design style and flair which only they can deliver.
> This subject needs to develop further and we would welcome a round table discussion with all parties involved in the construction process and beyond, open forums are required to further understand where we need to get to in order to ensure that historic issues don’t hold up the processes of tomorrow.
To summarise this very brief review of the current state of BIM implementation, in order to move forward I believe we need, as an industry to have more open forums where the topics highlighted today can be discussed and solutions developed, this should include everyone with an impact on the construction process from designer to clients, contractors and lawyers.
Clients and stakeholders must be better informed how the process can aid them and what role they can have at various stages. People familiar with construction contracts will know that the single biggest increase in costs of a construction projects is fundamental design changes post-agreement of contract terms with costs increasing exponentially the closer these changes occur to practical completion.
As designers we must take responsibility for ensuring that clients and stakeholders fully understands the designs provided, BIM goes a long way to aiding this process.”