Sandwell Council is celebrating a trio of award nominations for its West Midlands Virtual Hospital (WMVH), a digital 3D representation of a hospital that acts as a BIM learning guide for suppliers, product manufacturers and specialist contractors.
The project is shortlisted for the 2015 West Midlands Constructing Excellence Awards, as a finalist in the Construction News awards, and for a Global Procurement Leaders award.
The virtual building will initially support the procurement of the £353m Midland Metropolitan Hospital (MMH) in Smethwick (pictured), although the WMVH is in fact actually based on a BIM model of Bristol’s Southmead hospital.
Registered users can take a virtual tour of the hospital, from operating theatres to wards and the shops and catering facilities, allowing them to visualise what the client, main contractor and procurement managers will need.
The free-to-use tool has been supported by more than £44,000-worth of sponsorship.
Stephen Massey, procurement manager at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, told BIM+: “We’re aligned to BIM adoption, and it’s a learning platform for BIM, for designers, product manufacturers and subcontractors. We’ve got high hopes for it, it’s already enjoyed a lot of recognition through being shortlisted for awards.
“We think BIM is an economic driver for the region’s supply chain, if manufacturers can convert their products into BIM objects hosted in the BIM libraries, it offers an opportunity for future market share in this country, and perhaps internationally.
Carillion was recently left as sole bidder for the £350m PF2 project. But if and when it’s confirmed as design-and-build contractor, Massey said that its category managers and designers will use the model for procurement as a contractual obligation.
Then, over time, the virtual model would be replaced by the actual BIM model. “For subcontractors working for Carillion, all the works packages will be advertised, published and administered in the MWVH – there will be real-life opportunities in a virtual world.”
The WMVH also incorporates a carbon calculator and a reporting mechanism to track economic, environmental and social outputs set by the MMH contract, allowing it to quantify the value of real-life business placed with local firms, the number of jobs created and how the WMVH has increased BIM-adoption by local businesses.
In further plans, the team behind WMVH hopes to open a BIM training suite with a focus on product design and digital modelling. It will offer an SME-friendly contract digital design service for BIM object and COBie dataset creation, and will also create a revenue stream to sustain the WMVH for Sandwell Council.
The project’s submission for the Constructing Excellence West Midlands award says that it has the “potential not only to help the procurement process for MMH but to change the culture of procurement for all building developments, helping every project to have a positive impact on its region’s local economy (and therefore its people, businesses and communities) and environment.
The submission says: “SMEs can present and upload their product designs, BIM objects, drawings, dimensional tolerances and hyper-link to their COBie data-formatted specifications using an easy-to-configure 3D platform. Each user has a profile page linking to their website.”
It also acts as a 3D supplier directory for health-sector professionals (clients & buyers) to view prospective suppliers’ credentials, capabilities and case studies, while having a virtual building fully specified with materials and components supplied from local businesses also supports the localism agenda.
We think BIM is an economic driver for the region’s supply chain, if manufacturers can convert their products into BIM objects hosted in the BIM libraries, it offers an opportunity for future market share in this country, and perhaps internationally.– Stephen Massey, procurement manager, Sandwell Council