Digital efficiencies ‘can protect’ industry from Brexit uncertainty

Construction companies taking more ‘proactive’ approach to data management, say CM/BIM+ round table experts.

Efficiency gains from adopting BIM and digital process can help protect construction businesses from any downturn caused by Brexit uncertainty.

That was one of the key messages from the annual Construction Manager and BIM+ round table, which gathered together key digital figures from around the industry this month.

Riz Cader, consultant with RLB, said: “As everyone assumes there will be a downturn in the market, we are being proactive. We are being asked to optimise our fees, so we are looking at ways to be as efficient as possible. As we are the receiver of the data, we have to engage with those who create it so that we can use the data more efficiently.

We are seeing designers understanding more about the data requirement. As far as Brexit goes, people are expecting a downturn so they are trying to be more efficient.
– Richard Bates, Alinea Consulting

“Necessity is the mother of innovation; and this is what is pushing us.”

Richard Bates, associate and BIM specialist at Alinea Consulting, agreed. “We are seeing designers understanding more about the data requirement,” he said. “As far as Brexit goes, people are expecting a downturn so they are trying to be more efficient.”

Lendlease consulting BIM leader Edonis Jesus reported that more clients were demanding BIM, also a finding of CM’s annual BIM survey.

“I don’t believe the transition to a digital construction industry has been impacted by Brexit or decline in growth in the industry,” Jesus said. “I think it’s the opposite: it’s accelerating the whole process. More and more clients are requiring BIM Level 2 for projects.”

“I don’t believe the downturn is having any impact other than a positive one; it’s creating demand for change,” said Marek Suchocki, civil infrastructure lead at Autodesk. “Some businesses can’t see why they’re struggling, but others who are more mature are changing their processes, innovating and changing direction.”

Eddie Tuttle, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Building, added: “Brexit could benefit the industry as it will force people to change the way they do business. The industry is working to a model where they appear happy with low margins, which is a big issue.”

Dr Sonia Zahiroddiny, BIM strategy manager for HS2 Ltd, agreed that business models need to change. “Businesses are looking at a piece of technology and trying to make it work rather than looking at their model and how technology improves the business process. It’s a cultural change,” she said.

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