CM survey: two-speed industry still playing catch up on BIM

31 January 2014

Speller Metcalfe is implementing BIM at the Habberley Learning Campus at Wyre Forest special school

The industry is struggling to get up to speed on Level 2 BIM, with respondents to the CM BIM survey rating their theoretical preparedness to implement BIM at just 3.81 on a scale of one to 10.

Sluggish progress – and emerging evidence of an adoption gap between SME contractors and large contractors – is evident in responses to the CM Level 2 BIM Readiness survey, completed by 246 individuals representing a cross section of the contractor, client and consultant communities.

For full details of the respondents and further analysis, see our feature here.

Asked how prepared they would be to implement Level 2 BIM on a project going on site in 2014, SME contractors turning over less than £20m and medium-sized contractors turning over £20m-£100m rated themselves at 2.71 and 2.72 respectively.

However, large contractors turning over £100m plus and design or surveying consultancies were far more confident, rating themselves at 4.59 and 4.58 respectively.

If you had to implement BIM in 2014 how prepared would you feel? (on a scale of 1-10)

The survey also showed that BIM is becoming more widespread, with 36 out of the 246 respondents saying they had worked on a project that met a Level 2 BIM specification, and a further 77 had worked on a project that displayed some elements of BIM.

Of the 18 public sector clients that responded to this question, nine had no experience of BIM, but encouragingly the same number did report that they were working on BIM projects.

But the survey also found that optimism over the better project outcomes promised by BIM was counter-balanced by fears from some respondents that it would tilt the market against them.

While 46.6% of the sample were confident that BIM would increase their opportunities to win work, 14% of respondents felt it would shrink their market. 

Likewise, 41.6% thought that BIM would increase productivity and reduce costs, but 33.1% were also concerned that getting up to speed on BIM would decrease productivity and increase costs.

Better cohesion and collaboration within the supply chain was anticipated by 48.3%, but 23% were worried that BIM would create additional areas of conflict with clients and supply chain partners.

What impact do you think BIM will have on your business, taking a medium term view over the next 24 months?

The percentage of respondents rating their knowledge of key Level 2 BIM concepts as “poor” was also high: 53% confessed to a poor knowledge of the BIM project definitions in PAS 1192:2, 68.5% were unfamiliar with Employers Information Requirements, 55.5% were struggling to get to grips with COBie and 56.7% said they had a poor knowledge of the CIC BIM protocol.

The 22 public sector clients in the survey seemed to be no more clued up on these key concepts than the industry at large: 47% claimed a poor knowledge of PAS 1192:2, 52.6% said the same about EIRs, and COBie is poorly grasped by 52.6%.

In fact, when industry professionals currently delivering BIM spoke to CM, public sector clients’ lack of preparedness – and lack of enthusiasm for COBie – was a clear theme.

At Midlands contractor Speller Metcalfe, director Adrian Speller says he has recently seen tenders for MOD work where “BIM is specified but the specification is fairly vague, it doesn’t define the level of BIM and it doesn’t specify COBie”.

Speller feels that part of the problem is the lack of off-the-shelf contracts that allow public sector clients to set up a BIM-compliant project from day one. “There’s still a way to go before, as an industry, we develop a form of contract that supports BIM right from the feasibility stage,” he said.

At Balfour Beatty Construction Services, BIM director Peter Trebilcock says the company is currently delivering over 50 projects in BIM, but only has one current signed contract where the client requires COBie outputs. However, it also has 12 live tenders where COBie is required. 

“It’s a step change for the industry to manage and capture all that data. It will need specialist training and the injection of some specialist people to make sure we meet our contractual requirements… But it’s certainly true that a large part of the team is not ready to provide data in COBie,” said Trebilcock. 

He also speculates that some public sector clients post-2016 could specify “full PAS 1192:2 compliance” while others may define BIM differently.

But there is little suggestion that private sector clients are further along the road to BIM adoption. Rod McLennan MCIOB, a lecturer at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University, says that private clients often just want to get on site as quickly as possible. “As the green shoots are beginning to show...there’s a pressure to be first on site and to get the business. It's a fantastic idea to have the time to work together [to develop the BIM model]at the start of the project, but that's just not the reality.”