Digital Construction Summit: Willmott Dixon opens up about BIM benefits

Willmott Dixon has gone public on the many benefits BIM has brought to its clients – and urged fellow contractors to share their success stories to encourage wider digital adoption.

Garry Fannon, head of BIM at Willmott Dixon, was chairing a panel debate with several clients at the Digital Construction Summit on 15 May, looking at their perceptions on BIM challenges and benefits. He said that while early adopter clients did not need to be convinced about the benefits, the “early majority” wanted data, and business cases.

“We need to share our stories to make some impact and create some momentum,” he said.

He highlighted Willmott Dixon’s own comparison of BIM and non-BIM projects over the past three years (see below).

Comparison of BIM and non-BIM projects over the past three years

  • 1 day: Average increase in speed to deliver £100,000 of turnover compared to non-BIM projects.
  • 60%: Average improvement in cost of error compared with non-BIM projects.
  • 1.2%: Average improvement in retaining margin compared to non-BIM projects (thanks to reduced defects).

Source: Willmott Dixon (projects measured from April 2016 – April 2019)

“Other contractors need to start showing more because if you don’t show it, our customers will not make the changes,” he urged.

Fannon was sharing a panel session with Ralph James, FM & technical services manager of the Met Office, Richard Draper, BIM and digital assets manager of the University of Birmingham, Elena Simcock, information manager at the University of Birmingham, and Richard Baggeley, project maanger of the iMET Building at Cambridgeshire Regional College, who spoke positively about their BIM experience.

Simcock said: “Yes there is a lack of understanding of what BIM is generally for those clients that haven’t done it but also there is a lack of understanding of delivery teams to assess the client needs properly. We are interested in building projects on time and on budget but ultimately we are interested in the bigger value that BIM can add to our process during operation.”

Andy Smith, senior manager, partnership head office facilities at John Lewis Partnership said many clients still didn’t understand the benefits of the information they could receive.

“The agenda still talks too much about the process of construction and not necessarily how we use the building,” he said.

He pointed to the benefits John Lewis has enjoyed at its head office in London’s Victoria, where the company has gradually built a BIM model of the building, layering in information every time there was an interface with the building. This has allowed John Lewis to save money on surveys for later refurbishment works, as well as making it easier and more efficient to carry out maintenance, Smith explained.

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