The industry’s BIM readiness in 12 video interviews

Is the industry ready for the government’s BIM mandate in April 2016? That was the main theme of the round table event held recently to launch the BIM+ website, attended by a cross-section of well-placed commentators and kindly hosted by law firm Olswang.

Participants included David Philp FCIOB, head of BIM implementation at the government’s BIM Task Group; Peter Trebilcock, BIM director at Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK; and Simon Rawlinson, head of research and innovation at EC Harris.

Also present were Bryden Wood director Jaimie Johnston; Michael McCullen, executive chairman of Asta Development; Sonia Zahiroddiny, BIM consultant at Transport for London; solicitor Francis Ho of Olswang; and Tim Platts, chairman of BIM4SMEs.

The CIOB was represented by senior vice president Chris Chivers; past president Martin Chambers, framework director of Shaylor Group; and head of policy Eddie Tuttle.

The discussion will be featured in full in the January issue of Construction Manager.

But as a foretaste of the debate, we asked each contributor to respond to a question on BIM implementation from their particular point of view.

Chris Chivers was asked whether BIM would transform the industry, or act as a veneer on existing practices. His answer was that the industry needed a transformation as “we can’t carry on making the same mistakes” and that BIM provided a vehicle for reform. However, he acknowledged the “fear factor” experienced by many clients when faced with an unknown process.

Simon Rawlinson addressed the question of whether Level 2 BIM, using the industry’s familiar contracts and insurance arrangements, would really deliver the genuine collaboration needed to make BIM work. His reply was the industry naturally fell into different “swim lanes”, so that organisations that wanted to accelerate their adoption were free to do so, but others could gain confidence from a more gradual approach.

Representing the BIM4SMEs working group, Tim Platts was asked what would happen to SMEs that took a “wait and see” approach to BIM. “I don’t see what they’d have to gain from that," he reponded. “Next year, I think we’ll see a real sea change from the point of view of contract deliverables and tender requirements. So now’s the time to embrace the information and support that’s out there, particularly the support in the BIM4 communities,” he said. 

Responding to the question of whether the industry has a workable legal framework for BIM projects, or might need a new “BIM contract” in future, Francis Ho argued that the industry already has the legal basis it needs, including the CIOB’s Contract for Complex Projects. “But the next step is getting industry support of those standards,” he added. 

Jamie Johnston, director of architect Bryden Wood, says all the technical preparations have been made for an industry-wide roll out of BIM, and all the evidence of its benefits has been gathered and presented. What is needed now is for firms to rise to the challenge and implement it in their businesses…

Does the industry have the skills it needs to wring the most benefit from BIM? Eddie Tuttle, the public affairs and policy manager of the CIOB, says the agenda is being set by a cadre of experts who understand  BIM Level 2 very well – the challenge we are faced with now is to do the same for BIM level 4.

The government has set the construction industry a deadline of April 2016 to adopt BIM Level 2. David Philp, head of BIM implementation at the government’s BIM Task Group, is confident that the industry will meet it: standards will be fully in place by April 2015, the public sector has already put more than £9bn of Level 2 schemes out to tender and the private sector is rapidly following suit.

Peter Trebilcock, Balfour Beatty’s BIM director, was asked whether contractors are just adopting BIM because it has become politically correct to do so. Not at all: firms are well aware of how it improves their relations with the client’s team and their own supply chain, and how it cuts waste and risk out of the building process.

Construction Manager’s editor Elaine Knutt gives a commentator’s take on the industry’s adoption of BIM. She argues that it’s part of a wider revolution that is digitalising the production process in general, and that the trade press has become an important part of the effort to understand and publicise that revolution.

An intriguing issue with BIM is whether firms are treating it as just another way to execute a better project, or whether they are using it to turn themselves into better companies. Michael McCullen, the executive chairman of software company Asta Development, supplies most of the major contractors in the UK, and is therefore in a good position to say which is right…

One talking point with BIM is how an industry that is made up of almost 200,000 firms can implement it – or anything else – as common practice. Martin Chambers, the framework director of regional contractor Shaylor Group, gives us his perspective on the problem.

The government’s BIM implementation strategy relies on public sector clients becoming almost as proficient at using BIM as the companies they employ. Sonia Zahiroddiny of Transport for London gives her perspective on how well the government and its many agencies are meeting the challenge.

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