Balfour Beatty partners with educational bodies to tackle BIM challenges

Balfour Beatty has teamed up with Leeds Beckett University, White Frog Publishing and Coventry University to create new software that aims to tackle the challenges faced by construction firms in adopting BIM.

Balfour said the industry has not embraced BIM as it has other technologies such as drones, due to a lack of access to the level of design information required at an early stage to effectively use the tool.

Its new project will examine how BIM can become more automated by developing a plug-in software solution, with the aim of assisting users in complying with BIM standards and meeting government targets.

The software will automatically populate the 3D representation of products or elements with the appropriate building information. Balfour said this would simplify the process of sharing data between design, procurement, maintenance and operation teams, allowing for increased predictability of building performance through more detailed asset planning.

The research team will develop the automated BIM solution over a two-year period, with the project to be shared with the wider industry in 2021.

It is part of a wider £12.5m investment programme organised by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, a non-departmental public body within UK Research and Innovation, and financed by the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Rachel Sudlow, project lead and continuous improvement project manager at Balfour Beatty, said: “As an industry leader in the development and integration of BIM, the new automated software tool is yet another step forward in driving change and allowing the industry to fully realise and enjoy the benefits of BIM across complex infrastructure and building schemes.”

“Balfour Beatty has been using BIM for the last decade. Drawing on our expertise and application of digital technologies, we’re proud to be collaborating with our partners to develop a solution which will benefit the industry as a whole, both clients and contractors alike.”

Dr Saheed Ajayi, senior lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Engineering at Leeds Beckett, and the academic leader of the project, said: “The challenges companies are facing include: the learning curve embracing the new technology and getting everyone involved to use it; the need to comply with set standards and codes of practice; and the need for sufficient information about the building to accompany its 3D representation.

“Companies do not know what format the information should be in and how much information to include – there is currently no standardisation. Through the research and innovation with Balfour Beatty, we are pleased to present this solution to the industry.”

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