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The BIM conundrum: too much confusion hinders Level 2 progress

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Alex Small, BIM and digital platforms manager at Tata Steel, discusses why construction industry professionals feel a lack of direction is hindering the delivery of BIM Level 2.

The effective adoption of BIM throughout the supply chain is proving a challenge. For those companies creating BIM content – predominantly construction product manufacturers – the task is even more confusing and complex. 

Bringing the supply chain together, with professionals attending from across the globe, Tata Steel hosted its first #TalkBIM webinar to openly discuss the challenges faced by the construction industry.

The webinar featured a panel of highly regarded industry specialists, including representatives from the University of Liverpool, the Construction Products Association and the BIM4M2. It was attended by nearly 100 BIM professionals including technical consultants, architects and structural engineers.

Taking part in a live polling session, the panellists and attendees answered three key questions:

  • What is the main issue for the construction supply chain in delivering BIM Level 2?
  • What do you think is the biggest hurdle facing manufacturers in delivering BIM Level 2?
  • What is the main contributory factor to the complexity of BIM?

More than two-thirds of attendees felt that a “lack of clear client requirements” was the main issue in delivering BIM Level 2.

Offering a reason why this may be the case, Martin Simpson, director at the Centre for the Digital Built Environment at the University of Liverpool, suggested that this is because the industry historically is geared towards delivering physical assets, not digital information.

The result of this confusion is either too much or too little BIM data being provided and cascaded throughout the supply chain – resulting in further issues when it reaches the contractors and operators.

Building upon the challenge acknowledged by the first question, 62% of attendees felt they “don’t know what to deliver” when contemplating the biggest hurdle facing manufacturers in delivering BIM Level 2.

Confusion, linked directly to the multiple formats of BIM data as well as the level of information supplied, is a barrier yet to be overcome – which has been widely acknowledged by the construction industry.

Paul Surin, head of built environment at construction product manufacturer Wienerberger, noted that a vital first step for all companies would be to look internally, with the aim of digitalising and structuring data before embarking on their BIM journey.

Supporting this preparation method, Steve Thompson, associate director and head of digital manufacturing at construction consultant PCSG, said that companies should consider the long-term use and value of data to their business, to help shape and guide their pathway to effective BIM. 

The final question split the vote, with 38% voting for both “lack of guidance” and “too many platforms/options”, reinforcing the answers to the first two questions.

Considering the potential solutions for the two recurring challenges emphasised throughout the online discussion, Steve Thompson said that the introduction of PAS 1192 Part 7 would have a positive influence. Simplifying the structure of BIM data and its delivery, as well as the new standard would create a more consistent BIM language.

Taking a broader view of BIM on a European and global scale, the launch of the Construction Product Association digital template LEXiCON will aid the cross-continental and country delivery of BIM.

The tool will map parameters and be aligned with the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bsDD) and similar initiatives across the world.

Allowing data to be easily exchangeable and mapped across the globe, the launch will significantly ease challenges faced by multinational organisations and architects working on projects overseas.

The #TalkBIM webinar has emphasised that a strong sense of confusion and too many options of how to deliver BIM data is currently hindering the effective delivery of BIM Level 2 by 2020.

By engaging with the global supply chain, to share potential barriers and innovative solutions, Tata Steel aims to offer support to those beginning and continuing their BIM journey to encourage the implementation of efficient digital working practices.

To watch the webinar in full, see below

The result of this confusion is either too much or too little BIM data being provided and cascaded throughout the supply chain – resulting in further issues when it reaches the contractors and operators.– Alex Small