This article is the first of two parts, the focus will be on the drivers behind BIM, why are many companies adopting this new or not so new (depending who you talk to!) way of working. BIM has many believers and just as many critics! But one thing is for sure as it stands, the UK government believes it’s here to stay as well as many of the early adopters who are making whole sale changes to the infrastructure of their project set-ups.
Over the last few years the UK Government has made significant moves outlining where they expect the construction industry to be over the coming years in regards to BIM. The UK Government has mandated that all public building projects will have to be using BIM design processes at level 2, fully collaborative 3D BIM, or higher by 2016. Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office has recently stated in 2012 that, “The Governments four-year strategy for BIM implementation will change the dynamics and behaviours of the construction supply chain, unlocking new, more efficient and collaborative ways of working. This whole sector adoption of BIM will put us at the vanguard of a new digital construction era and position the UK to become the world leaders in BIM”.
Now….within this particular article I’m not going to get too caught up in the whole debate of how much of this ‘new’ BIM methodology already existed in certain people’s workflows and how much is a ‘new’ way of thinking. Yes certain collaborative working processes did exist previously, what I feel BIM has brought and is bringing to the table is a repackaging of the best aspects of collaborative working processes and protocols along with new ones as well as establishing further integration of existing 3D CAD technologies and the newer BIM technologies that are sprouting up on what seems like a daily basis!
The Cabinet Office states in the Government Construction Strategy (2011) “there is a detailed programme of measures Government will take that will reduce costs by up to 20% by the end of this parliament”; it is believed by many that BIM will be one of the key factors in achieving this target. I still feel that even with all the good work that the BIM task group, BIM Regional hubs, OpenBIM network and the BIM academic forum are doing more work will be needed to move onto the next phase. We’re at the point now where all the believers are fully on board and committed to BIM ethos. What phase 2 needs to do now is move beyond the tight-knit and familiar group of people who accept and believe in BIM and begin to convince some of the remaining doubters on board. I say some because I feel you will always get some people who don’t like change an d wish to stick with what they know and are comfortable with.
As well as the Government drives i also feel that education has a big part to play in BIM adoption. As discussed in the BIS BIM strategy Report carried out by the BIM Industry Working Group (2011, p6) “key to any successful change programme is communication of the change and adequate support during the process”, part of the responsibility to provide that support will fall on Academic Institutions. The BIS BIM strategy Report (2011, p6) goes on to state that in regards to how training is provided the “recommended solution is a strongly led hybrid provider drawing on the educational and research expertise of universities, the robust experience of accrediting bodies and the engagement of credible industry led best practice, as well as vocational training delivered by CPD or the training supply chain.” From this information it’s clear to me that the incentive or at least the outwardly perceived incentive is that education is seen as a major supporting act. In my opinion however I feel much more has to be done at undergraduate level (UK at least). In respect of this point I also feel further guidance and support needs to be established and clearly set out and put forward to higher education institutes as to what their role is.
Barison and Santos (2009) found the application of BIM in HE to be focussed predominantly on single course integration rather inter-disciplinary. However as we all know by now the application of BIM in the industry is an integrated practice! The aim for education has to be for effective collaboration between different professionals. This is why I feel that BIM should not only be taught in theory and technical lectures but imperatively all of the knowledge should be brought together in multidisciplinary collaborative projects.
So as you can see there are many factors at stake when we talk about the drivers behind BIM, whether it be Government, Industry or Education they all have a big part to play in the future of the construction sector. What are your thoughts on BIM, do you believe enough is being done touch forward with BIM? Also do you feel it’s he to stay, or is it just another buzzword or fad that will pass? Catch up here next week for part 2 of this article.