The BIM agenda reaches a new landmark

The government has enshrined its BIM agenda in new documents that give a cradle-to-grave guide to its use. John Eynon FCIOB and David Millar RIBA summarise their content. Illustration: Nick Lowndes.

According to a survey from Autodesk, the UK is second only to Finland in the world for BIM implementation. In the space of two years, we have come from nowhere to become a global BIM player.

UK plc sees BIM as a unique offering and the government’s objective is now to lead the world in this field.

Its strategy is driven by two main objectives: to reduce capital project costs; and to reduce carbon emissions. BIM provides access to efficiencies and economies, saving time, effort and waste through the use of consistent, structured data. The Government Construction Strategy, established in May 2011, makes Level 2 BIM mandatory across government contracts by 2016. Last year’s “One year on” report highlighted the savings that had already been made in the first 12 months, partly attributable to BIM and other initiatives.

At Ecobuild last month, a new suite of documents was unveiled by the government’s BIM Task Group which will accelerate this transformation. The documents, published by the Construction Industry Council, set out how integration will work from cradle to grave, and includes a new “Soft Landings” protocol to ensure buildings run more efficiently plus a new British Standard — PAS 1192-2 — to encourage best practice implementation of BIM.

The suite of documents provides much-needed guidance and standards for all stakeholders involved in implementing and using BIM on their projects.

At a time of economic stringency the government’s push on BIM has kept it on the agenda, when perhaps ordinarily most businesses would have put it in the “too difficult” box.

In the long term, digital data managed in this way will enable smart projects, built by super-efficient, lean, integrated teams, and will eventually deliver smart cities, connected and digitally enabled on many levels, being energy efficient, optimised and totally sustainable.

An easy guide to the BIM Task Group documents

BIM + GSL = Better outcomes

Based on the BSRIA Soft Landings process, Government Soft Landings (GSL) encourages the engagement of the project end users from the start of design for any built asset. This improves the built asset design, construction and operation process. The “golden thread” of GSL runs from the start of a project, linking clients, end users, designers and constructors, and focusing on outcomes and operational performance.

Digital Plan of Work

The dPoW provides a harmonised stage structure which will provide an overarching framework for all other
plans of work produced by the institutes, such as the RIBA Plan of Work update
due later this year. Included in the dPoW are activities required for each stage and links with COBie requirements and the Employers Information Requirements.

Data Hierarchy

The Data Hierarchy defines the data requirements for each stage, including the Coordinated Work Stages, the Plain Language Questions, which set out what information is required, and also the Demand Matrix, which sets out the information to be included in the COBie file that forms part of each of the data exchanges in line with the dPoW.

Uniclass 2

For a digital information environment like BIM, there is a requirement for a digital classification system — Uniclass 2. This is still effectively a Beta version but development is ongoing, and the classification will continue to evolve with the increasing use of BIM. The classification not only needs to be capable of developing with the growing data maturity of a model, but must also accommodate changes over the asset lifecycle and be capable of use by all stakeholders in the process.

COBie tools and testing

Guidance on COBie UK 2012 has been available for some time but in this update an example project is modelled at various stages with corresponding COBie outputs. In addition, COBie testing and extraction tools are examined.

CIC BIM Protocol

The CIC BIM Protocol is a supplementary contract agreement for appointments by construction clients and contractor clients. It covers BIM model production and delivery requirements and also sets out information requirements. The protocol can be included in a contract or appointment by a simple amendment.

Employers Information Requirements

The Employers Information Requirements (EIRs) are included in tender and appointment documents, defining model requirements and outputs at each stage. EIRs cover technical, management and commercial aspects of the requirements and are detailed on the website.

Scope of Services for Information Management

These documents detail the Information Management role that is fundamental to BIM delivery on a project, and involve managing the Common Data Environment, project information and facilitating collaborative working, information exchange and project team management.

The role does not involve design responsibility. However, it could be carried out by a consultant with design responsibility, or the main contractor.

PAS1192/Part 2 overview

The PAS is the key overarching document that builds upon BS 1192:2007. It defines the BIM processes for the Common Data Environment on a project for delivery, proceeding from the start at definition of need through to handover. And it details the required management processes in a multi-disciplinary BIM environment. PAS 1192/Part 3, which will be developed later this year, will detail information management for an operational asset to support maintenance and portfolio management activities.

Insurance Guidance Note

The CIC has consulted with the professional indemnity insurance market, and developed some simple guidance
for all those involved in design in a BIM environment.

Video resources

Members of the Task Group have produced videos giving an overview of the BIM programme, covering aspects such as education and training, commercial, technical and Government Soft Landings.

John Eynon FCIOB is a consultant and director of Open Water Consulting. David Miller RIBA is director and principal of David Miller Architects.

BIM trends to watch out for in the next 12 months

BIM reaching critical mass in the market as demand by clients and other stakeholders rises. The Government strategy will motor on this year, percolating down into more Government departments, local authorities and public sector organisations and clients. PQQs and tenders will include more BIM requirements, leading to more cries for help from bemused contractors and supply chain businesses.

Early adopters, including designers, leading contractors and suppliers, will turn BIM into real competitive advantage. They will win more work, providing services and project certainty that non-BIM companies will not be able to match. A two-speed industry could become a reality this year. Inevitably, there will be more business failures.
The recession is taking its toll, but the evolutionary changes and demands that our industry is facing will start to bite with a vengeance this year. It will be essential to embrace change to survive.

“Leftfield” players will enter the industry. Companies from other industries will use BIM to enter construction. Offsite manufacture, Design for Manufacture, and Computer-Aided FM are prime targets. It is not too far fetched to imagine Apple supplying buildings that arrive on site on a lorry, exquisitely designed and packaged, ready to be constructed smoothly and speedily. Or Amazon offering a similar service — click, visualise, select, check out, and built a few weeks later.

The delivery will only be as good as the supply chain capability and its engagement with BIM environments. The supply chain and others need to be supported to step up their capability. Many organisations will be working on this to provide support, training and guidance.

Cultural change away from 3D technology is essential. BIM is much more than software to be rebooted and reloaded. It requires more collaboration, integrated teams, new workflows and ways of working. This means that implementing BIM is much more than 3D, requiring business and cultural change on a grand scale. This may take two to three years for some large organisations.

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