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BIM in 2021: Willmott Dixon's Andrew Gamblen

21 December 2020

Andrew Gamblen, digital manager for Willmott Dixon Construction, North London and the East, sees a bright future for Dalux and dRofus, a silver lining for covid-19 and concerns about false marketing claims around the ‘golden thread’.

The issue of a skills shortage will certainly help drive new technologies, especially in those technologies which are 'left field', while also tweaking many existing ones.– Andrew Gamblen , Willmott Dixon

What in your view changed in terms of use of digital in construction and design in 2020?

2020 has been a highly unpredictable and turbulent year for everyone, but it feels like this was needed for digital construction to really take off. The necessity to quickly and efficiently find systems to keep production going has forced the adoption of hardware, software, and more agile working methods.

The speed at which this was adopted was simply astonishing. The benefits of using these systems has been discussed for years with very little traction, so it’s been good to see that it’s now here to stay. This will also drive further engagement with more digital systems moving forwards, as people are used to working digitally.

The importance of good infrastructure has been highlighted too; some technologies have already shown they are not yet in a position for large-scale adoption within construction due to the lack of it.

We have been primarily concentrating on the communication and collaboration aspects to ensure our people have the right tools to allow them to work remotely and understand their progress on site, without having to be there.

What technologies do you see coming into their own in 2021 – and why?

The golden thread and myriad of working groups tackling this issue means that I think we can expect to see a big emphasis on this next year. The difficulty that may come from this is the use of the term as a marketing tool to help boost sales (software/hardware/services). The industry will have a real challenge to ensure this doesn’t dilute or change the definition of what it is and what it’s trying to achieve.

Increased automation of repetitive data entry tasks will start to occur. Now that a fairly large portion of the industry is using the UK BIM Framework, we will start to see technologies take advantage of this standardised data and provide real insights.

What are you looking forward to trialling/ bringing on board in the coming 12 months?

There are developments taking place currently tackling several pain points within the design and construction process, all of which are incredibly exciting. It is all to do with interoperability of systems and communication.

What barriers do you see holding back new technologies and how might these be lifted?

Legislation can be both a barrier and an enabler. Revisions to legislation governing the use of drones could really help drive the adoption and use of them, while introduction of new legislation regarding the golden thread will prompt the industry to investigate and develop new systems to tackle the issue.

However, this does depend on the economy, particularly if there is no investment made into new/existing assets.

The issue of a skills shortage will certainly help drive new technologies, especially in those technologies which are “left field”, while also tweaking many existing ones, but this is an ever-present issue due to the lack of people coming into the industry.

Must-have new app:

Something I’m currently working on… watch this space!

One to watch:

Dalux and dRofus. The speed at which Dalux is being developed to be a true collaboration tool for the whole chain is impressive, while dRofus is a sleeper-system that is phenomenal for controlling and ensuring the correct design is used on a project.

Main image: 148849979 © Phuttaphat Tipsana | Dreamstime.com