Podium of Lombard Wharf, by Barratt London (Image: Patel Taylor)

Analysis

Vox pop: With only one CMYA citation mentioning BIM, are we missing out at the construction stage?

25 October 2015 | By Stephen Cousins

Martin Chambers, director, Shaylor Group 

We are not yet getting the full benefits in the construction phase – as with all change it takes time to filter through. We will only really see the benefits once the site is digitised – when it is the norm for foremen to carry tablets.

We’ve crossed one hump by getting the designers on board and are also beginning to see BIM being used in refurbishment. But the real hard work is getting the benefits on site.

It will take time before we have evidence of the full benefits. Once we have elements of projects that can be compared to historical data, such as curtain walling systems, and we can prove the benefits of using BIM on site, progress will rapidly increase.

Garry Fannon, head of BIM, Willmott Dixon

We are measuring the number of projects that are using BIM Level 1 or higher and at the present time at Willmott Dixon it is only around 25%. So it doesn't surprise me that so few CMYA citations mention BIM, as it may not have been utilised on those projects.

The industry is on a journey. Many of the designers were early adopters and are now seeing efficiencies – we need to tap into that to get the benefits on site.

As a business we have an incremental plan to increase the use of BIM and tap into the efficiencies to deliver to the site teams. We have learnt lots of lessons but it may take a site team a couple of projects to really get to grips with BIM. To really get the efficiencies in the construction phase we need tosupport the SMEs and supply chain that end up doing a lot of the actual work.

Peter Gracia, director, Gracia Consult

No matter how good a tool BIM might be, the benefits do not seem to be transferring down to the actual end users of the buildings. There is a reality gap between the potential that BIM has and what we are seeing on the ground.

BIM will not improve the industry’s tendency to offload the real design work down the supply chain to specialists. It is the specialist subcontractors actually doing the works on site and individual engineers will make judgment calls when they encounter a problem.

What the construction industry should be concentrating on is not how many bits of data we can collect about a building but actually delivering buildings that work for the client. There are lots of buildings out there with complex M&E installations and building management systems that cannot figure out how to keep the occupants warm or cool enough. I would love to see where the money is being saved by BIM as all I keep seeing is gigantic air-handling units and equally gigantic M&E consultants’ fees.

Rebecca De Cicco, director, Digital Node

We are seeing the benefits of BIM throughout all stages of projects and this will only continue in positive ways to provide better clarity and more efficient and coordinated information for all those involved in building and construction.

The benefits of BIM during design are obvious. But BIM is not only valuable during design but as we move into construction, allowing clearer and coordinated information between all project participants.

We are seeing BIM processes become more effective during construction, using such technologies as laser scanning and reality capture, which can aid in quantifying project design information against the construction process to then hand over a very clear and realistic picture of the project at completion.

Andy Sneyd, design and engineering director, Portakabin Group

BIM is not yet generating benefits at the design or construction stages but is most commonly being used for the basic capture of digital data for the asset management – an extra activity that can add cost during the construction phase of an asset’s life. BIM is certainly not driving innovation or cost savings in the way projects are designed, procured or constructed.

Construction is still incredibly inefficient. Offsite construction addresses some of the issues, however, building designers tend not to think about procurement or construction even though these elements should be intrinsically linked. To realise the true benefits of BIM at the design stage, the wider supply chain must be involved.

Main image: Patel Taylor