BIM adoption in UK lags overseas competitors

The UK’s adoption of BIM technology lags far behind its foreign counterparts even though uptake is rapidly accelerating, a global BIM survey has revealed.  

The International BIM Survey 2013, carried out by construction information provider NBS, draws together results from four national surveys carried out by Digicon in Canada, Masterspec in New Zealand, Rakennustieto in Finland and NBS in the UK. 

Although the UK is recognised as a pioneer in the development of BIM, the report found that just 43% of respondents were currently using it, compared to 67% in Finland, 66% in Canada and 57% in New Zealand. 

However, Britain is rapidly catching up with its foreign neighbours. A total 77% of UK respondents said they expect to be using BIM within one year’s time, the figure rising to 91% in three years, when all four countries will be on a par in terms of uptake. Almost all respondents in all four countries expect to be using BIM in five years.  

Differing adoption rates could be the result of countries’ varying understanding of BIM, said NBS. A total of 74% of UK respondents said the industry was not yet clear enough on what BIM is, compared to 69% in New Zealand, 68% in Canada and 60% in Finland.  

“The term ‘BIM’ has come to mean different things, or to have different nuances of meaning, in different countries,” said Adrian Malleson, head of research, analysis and forecasting at NBS. “New Zealand construction professionals are more likely to equate BIM with 3D CAD and software, which is mistaken.

“While 3D CAD can provide geometric data, it does not provide the full rich data set a true Building Information Model requires.”

The term ‘BIM’ has come to mean different things, or to have different nuances of meaning, in different countries. New Zealand construction professionals are more likely to equate BIM with 3D CAD and software, which is mistaken.– Adrian Malleson, head of research, analysis and forecasting at NBS

But whatever “BIM” means, awareness was generally high across the countries surveyed, ranging from 87% in Finland to 98% in New Zealand. 

When asked if they thought their government was on the right track with BIM, the majority of respondents in the UK (51%) and Finland (57%) said yes, compared to a minority in Canada (30%) and New Zealand (25%). 

The survey found varying use of Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), the vendor neutral format which allows BIM models to be worked on independently of specific software. In Finland, 93% of respondents said they were using IFCs, compared to 61% in Canada, 56% in the UK and 36% in New Zealand.

A significant number of respondents did not know whether or not they were using IFC, suggesting the need for greater communication. 

The use of Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) data sets, used to deliver building management and maintenance aspects of a BIM model were less popular.

In the UK, 15% of respondents said they were using COBie, versus 14% in Canada, 8% in Finland and 2% in New Zealand. NBS says that it expects this figure to rise in years to come.  

The report found a positive attitude among users that had already adopted BIM, said Malleson: “Across the surveyed countries, only around a quarter of those who have not yet adopted BIM say they would rather not.

“More significantly perhaps, among users across the board, fewer than 10% said they wish they hadn’t adopted BIM. This suggests that adopting BIM turns out better than people might have expected, which is encouraging.”

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  1. Often BIM is seen as a specialism within our industry, but the reality is the majority of people are doing some form of BIM/Information Management on a daily basis without realising it. This campaign aims to clarify what BIM means to your role in the industry, and by using better structured processes and information you can create real benefits to you, your Clients and society as a whole.

  2. Right On Nigel! The 19650 standard and UK guidance are taking the subject away from 3D design management and into information management. Thats fine for the well-equipped firm but seems a chore to SMEs. I support Back to Basics and am happy to help.

  3. We don’t use industry standards to prepare CAD drawings or documents for every project, so why expect BIM to be any different? It needs to be flexible so it can adapt to each project making it easier to use and therefore more likely to be adopted. The current BIM standards are simply a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”, way too complicated. You can’t expect one set of standards to be used across the board because projects are many and varied in terms of end use, cost, size, complexity, standard & bespoke, programme, infrastructure, structure etc. etc.
    Also only very large organisations can afford, or may see a benefit in having their building modelled in a 3d virtual environment in order to maintain it.

  4. Great comments from fellow colleagues [in the form of Craig, Keith and industry titan, Richard Saxon] building on already amazing piece of industry perspective, shared by Nigel Davies.

    Absolutely interesting times for all, where the new data-driven #disruptive business models will [and should] apply to any size of firm, thus levelling up the field for all to compete in an amazing way and ensure that the value chain for the Client remains as expansive, as digitally possible…….. #PQS2030

  5. Forget the acronym and the standards, if you have successfully delivered projects on time, within budget and collaborated across the whole supply chain effectively and efficiently, whilst making a profit, you have done BIM, period!

    BIM is about a process more than software, although software facilitates and forms the necessary tools to get the job done.

    So if we are all doing BIM already, why the fuss over a few standards? The standards are there merely to guide (note that word) the industry so that we are all delivering projects in a consistent and agreed way. They are not there to make things more difficult or awkward, but to streamline how we deliver projects throughout an asset’s lifecycle and thus reduce waste, errors and cost whilst improving H&S. The industry is endemic with costly failures, that’s why BIM came into being.

    BIM is also about collaboration and breaking down silos and the historic adversarial nature of the industry that is a root cause of the failures and litigation.

    The main issues from an SME’s viewpoint are the increasing cost of the tools!

    As for the electronic storage of data. Form many years we have relied on MS Windows and the File Explorer as a front end to our data. This is usually stored in on-premise file servers and it’s been easy to host all project data in one place. But now we are finding our project data scattered across the Internet in a multitude of different portals and solutions (all with an associated additional cost per user). The management of these is a heavy burden on SMEs. Something needs to be done here and soon.

    BIM is not an issue, it’s easy and the standards are just guidance. The standards are just an extension of the way you work. Far more worrying is the dispersal of project data across lots of expensive clouds and how that data in managed, controlled and secured.

    However, I agree now is a good time to review the success or otherwise of the BIM rollout.

  6. In fact, client, contractor and consultant have different expectation of “How much BIM can deliver”.

    The key of how do we adopt construction project with BIM implementation is only part of the project procurement, BIM shall be handled by their own discipline with efficient time. But people consider BIM is another specialist without any professional obligation and responsibility, it made BIM becoming a burden instead of a collaborative progress.

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