Digital Node and NBS, two leaders in the field of digital construction, have announced a new strategic partnership, to support the expansion of the NBS Australian operation. Digital Node founder and director, Rebecca De Cicco, and NBS head of partnerships Sascia Elliott discuss the plans.
Can you explain how this partnership came about?
SE: We announced in January 2017 that we had set up a subsidiary of NBS in Australia, coupled with the acquisition of Digicon in Canada, a well-established Canadian publication and consulting company which provides specification data in Canada and North America.
Our international expansion has been driven by our customers, who are looking for a single provider to support their work in international markets. At NBS we can meet this need through our connected digital tools designed to aid collaboration and underpinned by quality structured data in standardised formats.
We are already working in partnership with Transport for New South Wales, which has adopted the Uniclass 2015 classification system and the NBS BIM Object Standard is fast becoming accepted in international territories.
SE: The Australian market has been proactive in its efforts to improve BIM awareness and there is an exciting drive and momentum in Australia very similar to that which we have experienced in the UK. NBS and Digital Node want to simplify the transition process for Australia because when you can get past the initial disruption phase, a whole new collaborative data rich world is available.
Rebecca, as a native Australian and a specialist in BIM, what does this new partnership bring to the Australian construction industry?
RC: This partnership enables Digital Node to support a globally recognised brand such as NBS and promote its presence in Australia. Our objective is to assist in the introduction of digital technologies to the Australian market, in the same way as NBS has done in the UK.
There is nothing like this in Australia currently and therefore promoting and joining forces with NBS was a logical solution for us as a business.
We see great opportunities not only for growth in this market when it comes to BIM, but in education around how NBS has become a global exemplar group in the BIM space.
What’s the level of adoption and use of BIM in Australia for building and infrastructure projects?
RC: There has been a strong push for BIM in the last 12 months but prior to that it has been a very disjointed and ad hoc view of how both local government, state government and private entities are adopting BIM. Although a series of reports and industry driven research has suggested in Australia we should be pushing a federal initiative.
Having said this there has been a big push within state government, primarily from NSW and Victoria. We do know that Transport NSW, for example, has been integrating NBS’s classification system, Uniclass 2015, as a way to classify their infrastructure projects as well as the UK standards templates and processes to drive innovation.
This is becoming common across other Australian government departments and we’ll see this evolve into the use of ISO 19650 upon its release.
Having said all this, the market in Australia is still relatively premature when it comes to BIM across the buildings sector and therefore it is a prime time to be promoting NBS and its products in this space.
Sascia, in the UK and other international markets, NBS supports specifiers and designers for BIM implementation. Is it your objective to work alongside these same actors within the industry for the Australian market?
Our aim is to aid collaboration throughout the whole lifecycle of a building, which as you can imagine involves so many different construction industry professionals. This is also the challenge with BIM.
Architects, specifiers, designers and manufacturers have certainly led the way in adopting BIM in the UK and it will be interesting to see how things evolve in Australia. NBS and Digital Node hope to be able to bring together professionals to form a vibrant and collaborative BIM community.
Rebecca, as a qualified construction manager (FCIOB), what benefits can you see developing for site-led or construction management processes, particularly in Australia?
We are seeing a large uptake of BIM across the construction sector with many major building companies beginning to integrate BIM as part of their workflow. This is coming from the middle up as there is generally no real mandate or required need from a client in the way of BIM so we see BIM-related processes (and technologies) generally used by major contractors to implement cost and time savings.
The way in which BIM objects are used, however, is generally ad hoc and until the NBS National BIM Library launch in Australia, there was no national library, nor did we have any reliable resources to draw upon when it came to BIM generally.
Having said this the profession of construction management must evolve and there should be some type of integration of BIM-related curriculum in construction management undergraduate degrees. There is little of this happening in Australia and we need to be pushing this across education to see real change in the coming years.
We have an issue here that graduates across most disciplines are not leaving universities with the right skills to be able to run or manage a BIM project and this is something which needs to be addressed now.