Interview: Tekla’s Duncan Reed – ‘We can look to Finland, Norway and New Zealand’

There are other nations that are charging forward with the technical adoption of BIM outcomes such as China, with its use of offsite fabrication and 3D printing on a huge scale.– Duncan Reed, Tekla

Duncan Reed, digital construction process manager at Tekla (UK) says that conversation on social media to resolve issues is helping to speed up the adoption of BIM around the world.

We always hear the UK is striding ahead on reaching BIM “maturity”, do you agree?

In many respects the UK has taken a different approach to the implementation of BIM by concentrating on the processes and procedures needed to deliver digital assets.

A lot of time and investment by the UK BIM Task Group has resulted in the development of a suite of documents, which allows all parties involved in a project to understand and deliver their digital roles. Yes, some of these are still work in progress but the suite of BS and PAS1192 documents give a great foundation for any scheme.

However, it’s also important to be aware that whilst there is a strong group of individuals and businesses pushing BIM adoption in the UK, this is by no means the case across the board and this is certainly still a risk for the wholesale adoption of BIM in the UK.

So are we striding ahead? Yes, but is that with an in-depth maturity? No. However, the industry is finding new ways to work better digitally. The specific business models for some parts of construction, however, are still finding ways to be able to adopt BIM and as such are in the very early stages of development.

What attitudes to BIM have you encountered in other countries? 

I don’t necessarily get involved with a huge amount of delivering BIM across the globe, although I have supported some key customers in helping them to understand BIM processes.

However, I do find that there is a diverse range of attitudes from different market sectors within the construction industry. It is often interesting to see that businesses with a longer history in modelling aren’t always making the move to BIM as fast as those that are entirely new to it – who just take on the requirements of BIM, along with all the other changes needed to move from 2D to 3D.

For me personally the real change in attitude, in regards to the adoption of BIM across the world, is the much greater levels of collaboration through social media. Traditionally, my contacts would just be the telephone numbers and addresses of people I have previously worked with, but now particularly through Twitter, I have a much wider range of contacts, many of whom I will never probably work with, but I can have conversations with to resolve issues, provide advice or suggest other people to contact.

Has any country made a breakthrough on BIM we should know more about? 

For me there doesn’t seem to be any one country that has stolen a march on the rest of the world with major BIM breakthroughs, but several countries have created best practice guides for certain sectors and processes that are worthy of wider spread adoption. Examples of this are:

  • Finland’s “BEC 2012 Modelling instructions for designing prefabricated elements” – a best practice guide.
  • NATSPEC BIM Project Inception Guide – developed for the Australian and New Zealand market to assist clients in defining BIM requirements.
  • The Norwegian Home Builders Association BIM User Guide – a really useful introduction to BIM; why you should do it and some great general modelling practice guidance.

However, we must not lose sight of the fact that there are other nations that are charging forward with the technical adoption of BIM outcomes such as China, with its use of offsite fabrication and 3D printing on a huge scale.

BIM remains a very competitive market with all the players conscious that they need to keep one eye on the competition – wherever that may be coming from.

Nevertheless, in many ways it can also be finding methods to make small changes that can often deliver major benefits for an individual or business adopting BIM. This is as likely to come from Twitter feeds and blog sites as much as from major organisation websites or protocols.

Do you think BIM will help to harmonise standards and approaches around the world, or will every country pursue “national BIM”? 

This is an interesting point – we already live in a world of international standards but we perhaps don’t always realise it. In terms of BIM the obvious one is COBie, where the relatively new BS1192-4:2014 is a UK standard but very much built around an ISO standard. In addition, the development of Uniclass 2 is also about international standards.

We are fortunate in the UK that the investment in BIM process standards set out in BS1192:2007 are now being considered for adoption as European, and potentially world, standards for BIM processes; a great testament to the work done in the UK to define how to do BIM.

Therefore, the world is already working towards harmonisation through the adoption of ISO standards but I also think it is finding a standardisation of approach by the use of global BIM tools. Because the software is being sold and used globally, this is also contributing towards the standardisation of approach across the world.

What aspect of UK BIM would you like to export? ​

I’d like to export a few notions about BIM: the wider benefits available through collaborative working, thinking about the wider impacts of an asset, and best use of the Totex budget (Capex + Opex) to deliver better, more sustainable assets.

All of these notions are the bigger picture implications of adopting BIM, and the massive need for behavioural change that the industry must adopt in order to be sustainable. Indeed, utilising the collaborative processes with BIM as an enabler, makes it all a lot easier to deliver.

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