Analysis

Henry Boot Q&A: "A well-managed CDE is a big benefit"

11 September 2020

Philip Lambourne is the design manager at Henry Boot Construction. He offers an insight to how BIM has been adopted at the company and the benefits it is bringing.

Tell us about when Henry Boot ‘’got into” BIM.

Henry Boot Construction has been actively involved in the BIM agenda since 2011, initially looking at 3D modelling and 4D planning software tools. When PAS1192 Part 2 was published, it then became clear BIM was much more about the process than just a 3D model. From this point, the focus changed to how we share and control the vast amounts of information we deal with on-site, on a daily basis.

What was the original roll-out plan, and how has that changed as you’ve gone along?

Initially we carried out a pilot BIM exemplar project in conjunction with the National Federation of Builders. This was a small sports changing facility where we modelled the building, external works and did a 4D planning exercise.

We continued this strategy of utilising different BIM tools on several pilot projects, most notably Wharfedale View extra care scheme in Leeds and the new Rudding Park Spa in Harrogate.

As the government’s deadline for BIM Level 2 adoption approached, we ran BIM awareness training sessions for all employees. In addition, we invested in more detailed training for key members of staff.

We simultaneously developed our internal IT infrastructure to form a common data environment (CDE) to provide remote access to our consultants, sub-contractors and clients. 

Wharfedale View extra care scheme in Leeds: an early BIM success for Henry Boot

What have you learnt about deploying BIM in order to get the most advantage from it?

The benefits of a well-managed CDE is a big advantage for us. This allows us to have ultimate confidence in the information we are working with. As the design team and subcontractors can access the current project information independently and upload their designs direct to the system, the project can continue running smoothly and efficiently. We have discovered that having a clear guide to managing the CDE is key, as this sets out how it should be used and forms a vital part of our BIM execution plans.

Another advantage is the ability to review the design in 3D. This is used as a matter of course in design team meetings and to communicate design issues to our clients. Throughout the business, more and more people have begun using the models to better understand the design, sequence and logistics on site. Queries that may have been accompanied by hand-drawn sketches now have a mark-up of a model, instantly demonstrating the issue and aiding the process of creating a workable solution.

What software packages do you use?

Our design teams and subcontractors use a range of well-known BIM authoring tools with open formats, such as IFC being used to share information. We use Asta Powerproject for 4D programmes, and our internal processes now use Procore, which is also used as the CDE for our projects, allowing us to digitise our inspections and snagging processes.

We have had a range of experiences with software suppliers, particularly around CDEs. The level of support Procore offered with configuring the CDE and its usability was largely the reason behind our decision to select them.

The support provided is vital, not only for our internal employees but for all our supply chain partners, who don’t use the system every day.

What more would you like from your software suppliers?

Having the ability to feed into the development of the platform is a real positive from a software developer and something Henry Boot Construction has been involved in with planning software.

Having the model to understand the geometry felt groundbreaking at the time. Now, this is ‘business as usual’ for all our design partners and major subcontractors. – Philip Lambourne

How have you taken specialists and subcontractors with you?

Our approach to BIM and digital construction has always been focused on engaging with our design partners and supply chains. One of our earliest collaborations on the Wharfedale View scheme centred on the integration of the steelwork model into the architecture model. This was used to great effect to design the pitched roof of a curved building, which also had dormer windows. Having the model to understand the geometry felt groundbreaking at the time. Now, this is ‘business as usual’ for all our design partners and major subcontractors.  

How has BIM changed the way you recruit to HB?

BIM and digital construction have become more fully integrated over the years and this affects all roles within the business. Having the skills and experience to use these systems has become an essential part of the recruitment process, as is providing comprehensive training for our employees to ensure everyone can work with new systems and tools as we integrate them into our processes.

Are most clients BIM savvy these days?

We are seeing an increase in the amount of Employers Information Requirements documents in tenders. Clients are also keen to use CDEs to access current construction information. We find clients are more than happy to utilise these systems once they see the benefits of processing work more efficiently.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge our industry faces right now?

One of the biggest challenges in the current situation is having faith in the efficiencies digital construction can bring and driving these through. The challenge comes from being able to quantify the benefits.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities?

BIM and digital construction can lead to significant efficiencies, when adopted wholeheartedly. The opportunities come from realising these benefits in practice and where it can be used to drive efficiencies on site.