There is a feeling in the construction industry that the whole BIM (Building Information Modelling) issue has not been at the forefront of industry thinking recently, after a launch period some years ago that heralded the new way of working via design, procurement, and installation based on an electronic data approach.
There have been many understandable reasons over the last 18 months or so for this feeling, most notably of course, the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in the summer of 2017. Our industry is currently engaged at all levels in trying to understand the reasons behind such events and most importantly to build a safer future. Other issues have also had impact on the UK construction industry during this period including the collapse of Carillion and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Early adopters of BIM have perhaps been frustrated by lack of penetration throughout the industry, meaning that they operate in a grey area with some projects going down the BIM route but many not, as yet. This stifles investment in BIM training and development as consultants and contractors do not necessarily see the widespread roll out of a stream of fully engaged BIM projects.
However, industry digitalisation will not go away and represents, for many, the future and only pathway providing improvements in quality and industry efficiency. BIM could and perhaps should improve the recording of information and data concerning design changes for example and encourage better feedback between design and construction teams, in an efficient and timely manner. This could and should help kindle an elevated collaborative approach. BIM can also assist in helping to embed a new way of working where information is more readily available and importantly, accurate. Work being undertaken by the IRG (Industry Response Group) to assist in implementation of the Hackitt Review recommendations could benefit, as it calls for this type of change to ensure accuracy of design and ‘as built’ information.
It is likely that 2019 will see the further implementation of BIM within the industry and perhaps adoption will accelerate. To this end industry tier 1 contractors are working through the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) to ensure readiness for a wider adoption on projects. This will inevitably lead to their supply chains including subcontractors and product manufacturers becoming more involved in BIM and needing to extend their knowledge and BIM offering. In some cases’ part of this work is done with product manufacturers offering BIM objects in the required digitised format. The opportunity and necessity to really drive the whole process has never been greater as the industry grapples with better organisation and control of information. BIM has exceptional potential to be a positive force for all concerned provided it is practised and adopted widely. Some of the criticism to date refers to the lack understanding and implementation surrounding the subject matter.
Over the coming months SPRA will be informing on the development of BIM level 2 with a view to ensure we disseminate information to members on the subject. We would encourage feedback, as always, to ensure a healthy discussion with a view to encouraging a better understanding for all members.
Dr Ronan Brunton B.Sc MBA GMICE, Technical Manager