Steve Massey, supply chain development officer at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, on the benefits of being an early adopter, its BIM learning framework for staff and suppliers, and plans to move into Level 3 BIM by 2018.
Are you prepared for the Level 2 mandate in April?
We are bound by the mandate as we require central government funding for housing developments. We will be building around 2,000 new homes over the next three years and also leisure centres, care homes, and other public buildings. We will mandate BIM for all of our contractors and consultants, and signpost them through our dedicated “BIM technologies suite” if they need help to comply.
From April we will invite companies to quote for our projects through virtual public viewing models, in BIM format. To do that they will need to be able to access, interrogate and respond through the models.
As one of the early adopters at the forefront of BIM, we want to leverage the mandate to show that we can spend government money wisely and demonstrate 33% savings on whole-life costs, which will give them reason to assign us more funding.
In what areas do you feel that you are seeing the benefits of BIM?
Our key strength is our BIM implementation plan. The council has a top down commitment to BIM and our cabinet member for regeneration is a BIM guru who heads up a BIM steering group within the council.
That approach has helped us establish a dedicated BIM learning framework, called “BIMability”, which includes a programme of funding to induct council staff in BIM and engage and collaborate with our supply chain.
We see BIM as an economic driver for the region and a way for the council to engage with the supply chain and upskill them through the framework.
To what extent is your supply chain prepared for the mandate?
There are issues around raising awareness among Tier 2 to 5 specialists, in terms of what they need to have in place – many don’t have the resources. We need to change the working culture within certain elements of the supply chain and the council, there are those that immediately see the benefits and those that are struggling.
To tackle this, we established a 12 workstation “BIM technologies suite”, kitted out with variable software choices and licenses for Revit, ArchiCAD, Tekla and Solid Works, plus the clash detection tools Solibri and Graphisoft. A team of BIM consultants deliver a coaching programme of BIM awareness workshops and masterclasses in the suite.
In light of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, we have had to take a more entrepreneurial approach to our BIM implementation and the suite is also a revenue generator for the council, offered to private and public sector clients. So far we have used it to train Carillion’s project team and the supply chain working on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick (pictured top).
Do you have enough expertise within council project teams to deal with BIM?
Councils are suffering from a lack of staff due to funding cuts. We see a real opportunity to offer the BIM suite as a subcontract service to other public sector organisations that need help. We are already delivering training to some NHS staff and have had enquiries from other west midlands councils.
How well developed is your use of BIM for asset management?
Asset management is a fundamental aspect of Level 2 BIM. For example, our housing developments will require a full asset management data, rich with all the information on components and materials, maintenance schedules, manufacturer warranties etc.
Is full COBie the preferred approach?
Full COBie is important because at some point the building will need to be maintained, so if we have a model that identifies every component, it cuts the cost of us doing a pre-site audit ourselves. Standardisation in the model means we can cut the amount of components we need to keep in our stores, generating further efficiency savings.
Are consultants and contractors charging you a premium for BIM?
Not at the moment, but the proof of the pudding will come after April when the focus and attention on BIM will escalate. Those that have already embraced it fully are already seeing efficiency savings. There is a definite advantage of being an early adopter, which gives you a head start on your competition.
What are your views on the “stretch target” requiring all government departments to electronically validate BIM data from suppliers by October?
It’s something we still have to get to grips with, we are not looking that far in advance yet.
Is the BIM Task Group’s target of Level 3 by 2025 realistic?
Yes, it’s on our radar, we have already carried out some geotechnical surveys of existing assets, so we have a strategy in terms of modelling our retrospective buildings. We’re aiming to implement it by 2018, well in advance of the target. We plan to put all our projects on viewing platforms, so they can be regularly updated.
There are issues around raising awareness among Tier 2 to 5 specialists – many don’t have the resources. We need to change the working culture within certain elements of the supply chain and the council, there are those that immediately see the benefits and those that are struggling.– Steve Massey, supply chain development officer at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council