On 31 May 2011, the UK Government Construction Strategy announced the intention to mandate collaborative 3D BIM as a minimum requirement by 2016. Since then, has the reality on the ground matched the rhetoric?
The numbers are positive: The NBS National BIM Report 2014 found awareness of BIM has become almost universal throughout construction, rising from 58% in 2010, to 95% in 2013.
In terms of application on site, figures for 2013 (from a report by Competitive Advantage) show BIM being used for 3.9 % of all UK construction projects, representing some £3.8bn in value. By 2016, its penetration is forecast to rise to 50.8% of total work, worth £55.1bn.
Furthermore, an architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) supply-chain survey, undertaken by 4Projects this February, found 75% of respondents believe the UK government was right to mandate Level 2 and the associated IFCs and COBie.
However, only 2% of that sample believe they are actually Level 2 compliant along the supply chain today and, to put matters into perspective, 65% still use email as their primary information-sharing mechanism.
An appetite for change is being fuelled not just by government policy, but by opportunity for competitive advantage, according to Steve Spark, vice president business development, EMEA, at 4Projects:
“For project delivery teams, benefits can include improved cost efficiencies and control, time savings, risk mitigation and defect minimisation, reduced resource consumption and waste costs, plus better workflow management.
“For asset managers, on the other hand, benefits are being realised in terms of reduced cost of construction, operation and maintenance, enhanced FM, smarter decision-making on design issues, better lifecycle management and ‘soft landings’.
To turn information into intelligence, project data communication needs to be in a language and format that each recipient can both understand and use in their own business environment; plus then share with others, no matter what their respective systems.
The universal platform that enables this degree of integrated workflow and unleashes the collaborative potential of BIM is a Common Data Environment (CDE), as 4Projects marketing programmes manager Adam Page explains: “The CDE – as provided by 4Projects – brings together all project information in one place, the central point for data. Multiple parties feed their data, such as documents, drawings and plans, into the CDE. Even though each stakeholder might be using different software (known as the BIM technology eco system) it all integrates, so can be accessed by everyone – there are no technology barriers.
“Utilised across the full lifecycle, the CDE is vital for control and visibility, efficiency and performance, plus delivery of the quality of information necessary for asset phase utilisation. Who you are dictates what data you need from the CDE, with data the key driver for BIM.”
In the current market, with recovery only recently the word on construction’s lips, clients, designers, contractors and suppliers alike are all under pressure, to enable innovation on live projects as a matter of urgency and futureproof investment at the same time. The combination of inclusive interoperability through CDE, plus speed of deployment, affordability and flexibility via SaaS, helps create optimum conditions for return on investment (RoI).
Engagement is everywhere and the benefits of BIM are all dependent on who you are and what you do within the construction lifecycle, concludes Alun Baker, managing director EMEA at 4Projects: “Clients are concerned with whole life cost, from concept to operation, and efficiencies that can be made to bring this down.
“Contractors want to win BIM work which could be adversely affected if they don’t adapt. Driving the efficiencies of BIM helps them in their involvement in the lifecycle. Therefore, across the board, the business imperative is clear: The time to act on BIM is now.”