Apr 02 2014

BIM demystified – CONJECT users progressing well

BIM buildingBuilding information modelling (BIM) has been a serious, hot topic in the UK construction industry for three years after a decade of research projects and debate.  In 2011 the then chief construction advisor Paul Morrell announced a UK government target that would require fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016.  This refers to all centrally procured Government projects as outlined in the Government Construction Strategy including new build and retained estate, vertical and linear. Since then, dozens of conferences have been held, 100s of articles have been written, and many organisations have begun their BIM journeys.

But not all. Some have been waiting out the recession; others have been waiting for greater certainty in some of the ongoing BIM change initiatives (we have, for example, seen BIM Protocols, a new RIBA plan of work, and successive iterations of emerging standards for BIM-related process and information standards plus structured data exchange); and some are just uncertain about what level they are currently at and what they need to do.

BIM levels demystified

BIM WedgeTo help understand how BIM is being used at different levels of sophistication, Mark Bew (now chair of the government’s BIM task group) and Mervyn Richards defined the BIM journey in their widely-used 2008 BIM maturity or “BIM wedge” diagram.  Explanations of the different BIM levels were given to help people understand their current level of BIM achievement, and to define aspirational targets for future development (note: Level 2 by 2016 is an interim target, and still developing – the BIM task group is also looking at what changes will be needed for organisations to reach Level 3).

  • Level 0 is essentially unmanaged 2D CAD, with users exchanging design information on paper (or ‘electronic paper’, eg: via email).
  • Level 1 is managed CAD in a 2D or 3D format with a collaborative platform (such as CONJECT) providing a ‘common data environment’ and a standardised approach to data structures and formats. Here, commercial data is managed by stand-alone finance or cost management packages with no integration.
  • Level 2 involves a managed 3D environment held in separate discipline ‘BIM’ tools with data attached.  Commercial data is managed by project-centric 5D cost management applications  and integrated via proprietary interfaces or bespoke middleware, and using 4D construction sequencing.
  • Level 3 originally focused on delivery of a fully integrated, collaborative process supported by ‘web services’, using Industry Foundation Class (IFC) standards (these data exchange standards are also still in development), including 4D construction sequencing, 5D cost information and 6D project lifecycle management information.  It is likely level 3 will be about seamlessly assimilating data from the asset delivery process and then incorporating smart technologies to provide a basis for whole life-cycle modelling, allowing an asset to be optimised for whole-life cost and whole-life carbon footprint.

CONJECT users BIM level 1 compliant… and climbing

It is likely you have reached Level 1 if your organisation is a CONJECT user, and you may even be part way towards the yet-to-be-completely defined Level 2.  CONJECT has long supported consistent BS1192:2007-based conventions for document and drawing naming and numbering, and our project protocols have required users to standardise on particular file formats and structures when publishing and sharing information. Moreover, where organisations are also using CONJECT Commercial Management and related financial tools, they have already moved beyond the minimum Level 1 requirement, and have integrated cost management with their design and construction processes.

PAS 1192-3We are already well on our way to delivering application support for Level 2, including how we manage data from BIM authoring tools and deliver structured data compliant with the open standard Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) data schema.  We have also been working with key customers on implementing PAS 1192-2 (the specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using BIM).  In addition, we have been actively focused on a suite of new applications designed to support  PAS 1192-3 (the specification for information management for the operational phase of assets). This provides guidance on the use of an asset information model (AIM) to support planned preventative maintenance programmes and portfolio management activities for the life of an asset, so is fundamental to CONJECT’s infrastructure lifecycle management (ILM) approach.


About the author

Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper is Managing Director of Conject Ltd. He has spent over 25 years within the construction and engineering software markets, successfully running sales and marketing teams. He spent a number of years at SAP within their E&C practice, set up and managed a distribution channel in Asia Pacific for a division of Misys and ran a sales and marketing team within CSB COINS. In 2000 he gained an MBA from Henley Management College.

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