Analysis

BIM gains a foothold in New Zealand

23 June 2016 | By Tom Ravenscroft

Phillip McNeil, managing director of Redbike Systems and New Zealand-based buildingSMART Australasia member, explains how New Zealand is approaching BIM.

What is going on with BIM in New Zealand?

New Zealand has really taken off in the last two years and especially in the last six months and BIM receives good government support, though not yet through a mandate as in the UK.

There is a driver within the government to lift the productivity of the construction industry and they have a target of 20% across the whole industry by 2020. I see BIM as a major contributor to that.

The first step towards implementing BIM in New Zealand was the establishment of the BIM Acceleration Committee (BAC), which involves representatives from the government, education, design, from contractors, and from the digital industry catering to the construction sector.

One of the key projects within the BAC is to raise the awareness of BIM, providing a concise handbook for BIM adoption and increase the knowledge of the benefits that BIM brings for major clients and all industry players. As the BIM knowledge has now started to mature, there has been a notable take off in the last six months and more interest towards BIM even from manufacturers and all the way through to the FMs. 

Is New Zealand learning from the UK?

Following the UK example in realising that adopting BIM is a complex matter associated with rethinking and reorganising operational procedures, New Zealand’s government stands out with its transparent and consensus-based approach towards the gradual introduction of BIM in the construction sector.

The BAC was established in February 2014 as a designated branch of the National Technical Standards Committee in an effort to develop more efficient work processes through the application of BIM and open standards.

Both alliances bring the industry and the government together including representatives from architecture, construction, engineering, city councils, and Auckland University. The BAC has secured up to $250,000 for the three financial years ending March 2017 for activities that will accelerate the adoption of BIM.

The committee is mainly supported by the ministry of business, innovation and employment (MBIE) and also sponsored by BRANZ and the Productivity Partnership – a partnership between the government and the industry, established in 2011 with the single aim to empower the construction sector to become more productive, safe and internationally competitive.

All these organisations and government bodies provide overall leadership of the building and construction sector and have officially stated their aim, which is “to grow New Zealand for all through safer, healthier and more affordable homes and buildings”.

How is the industry in New Zealand embracing the BIM agenda?

Driven by the desire to document construction projects more efficiently, more and more architects and structural engineers in New Zealand have been moving towards 3D. This has already brought significant benefits of improved coordination. The true benefits of BIM, however, are yet to be utilised by the industry in New Zealand.

The “I” in BIM is the critical part. My experience is that the way we handle information lies in the middle of the industry transformation, because it is enabling the industry to become more collaborative and more together.

What is BIM for you?

I am not sure that the term “Building Information Modelling” is entirely accurate today. It seems that it has the focus where it was back in the early days – right into the design phase where modelling became the key criteria or if you like, the key benefit. The information part is what gets forgotten about in that whole process of bringing efficiency to the construction sector through digitalisation (BIM).

I cannot stress enough that Information or data is the key to actually delivering the real benefits into the industry and across the industry. We need it for design and we need it for construction and procurement, we need it for FM – it is what makes a model meaningful, so the “I” is the important part and it should not be forgotten.

This interview was conducted as part of a series facilitated by coBuilder at the buildingSMART Standards Summit in Rotterdam earlier this year

I cannot stress enough that Information or data is the key to actually delivering the real benefits into the industry and across the industry. We need it for design and we need it for construction and procurement, we need it for FM – it is what makes a model meaningful.– Phillip McNeil, Redbike Systems