Explainers

Comment: Autodesk’s David Light - To survive and thrive, we need BIM

9 July 2015 | By David Light

David Light, BIM consultant at Autodesk, says that there should no longer be any doubts about the value and necessity of BIM adoption – it represents everyone’s future.

The benefits of using BIM to design a building using one coherent system of computer models have been widely outlined. The opportunities to win more business, analyse and simulate designs at every stage of a build, mitigate risk of delays, reduce material waste and provide greater clarity to stakeholders should be enough to encourage those in the industry to put in place the appropriate technologies.

But with the government’s BIM mandate due to come into effect for all centrally funded public projects in England in the spring of 2016, there are still many businesses that are unprepared.

It’s important to realise these public sector requirements are not simple undertakings that can be addressed “last minute”, but will require planning, investment and patience.

For example, the UK BIM Level 2 requirement is supported by eight guidance elements, including operational data management, stakeholder readiness and security – none of which can be addressed overnight.

Interestingly, from conversations I have had with industry partners recently, many are wondering whether the mandate applies to them and the projects that they bid for, rather than looking at how they can implement BIM in their organisation.

Regardless of the impending deadline, we now have a clear framework which outlines expectations for BIM which could be used by any business to drive efficiencies, not just those bidding for centrally funded public projects.

In addition, a large number of organisations, such as architect BDP and contractor BAM Construct, are already preparing for the mandate now, which should act as a marker for all firms in the industry.

The fact of the matter is that, if your business aims to win a high percentage of UK government projects, you will need to be BIM Level 2 compliant in 2016.

But it’s not just those pitching for public sector projects that need to be prepared for the changes in the industry. One of the key objectives behind the government mandate is to act as a catalyst for the industry as a whole to modernise and improve its process, quality and efficiency.

Certainly, we are aware that a growing number of private clients are now also asking for BIM on their projects. For those who innovate now and ensure that they have the right tools in place, implementing BIM will enable the ability to bid for and win projects wherever and whenever public or private clients demand it.

Around the world, the number of project owners requiring the use of BIM is also rising. According to the McGraw Hill Construction Report 2013, 39% of general contractors say that developers frequently or always make BIM a requirement.

The UK is leading the world in this respect and this offers a huge opportunity for British businesses to export skills and win more international projects, positioning UK organisations as best in class, both at home and abroad.

As public authorities in the UK and around the world begin to demand BIM, it is clear that model-based construction and civil engineering is here to stay. The sector needs to wake up to the fact that, if it is to thrive, it needs to embrace BIM for buildings and infrastructure.

Beyond the mandate, this is good news, even for firms that have not yet adopted BIM. Moving to BIM can give firms substantial and long-lasting benefits, enabling more innovative design and engineering strategies and providing a significant competitive advantage.

It’s also important to remember that 2016 will be a milestone, but it won’t be the end of the journey for BIM. As an industry we need to continue working towards a future where we are able to build even more sustainable, attractive and better uses of space. 

Broadly speaking, the focus of the mandate isn’t simply pushing firms to invest in the latest technology. Instead, the focus is around collaboration. However, to survive, firms must strategically position their use of technology and work collaboratively between vendors and industry bodies to share concepts and recommendations. It’s a really exciting time to be a UK business in this space.

As public authorities in the UK and around the world begin to demand BIM, it is clear that model-based construction and civil engineering is here to stay. The sector needs to wake up to the fact that, if it is to thrive, it needs to embrace BIM for buildings and infrastructure.– David Light