Oct 29 2015

BIM – The final countdown

ICE BIMThe Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) held its annual BIM conference last week in central London.  It was an illuminating day where we were provided with a preview of the details of HM Government’s final roadmap ahead of the mandate for BIM delivery on 4 April 2015.

Moreover, in comparison with the conference last year, the conversation around BIM has progressed from being about justifying and advocating for BIM, to this years’ sharing of measurable outcomes, tips and challenges from a range of live projects.  Perhaps the tipping point of BIM adoption is approaching?  I’ll come to that later, but first things first.


UK Government BIM mandate – Level 2 timeline

Terry Stocks, Level 2 BIM Director at HM Government unveiled some details of what is required to meet the April 2016 deadline, as well as a set of stretch targets for October 2016.

Key points of the 2016 timeline are as follows:

By 4 April 2016

  • All documentation, guidance and support materials will be completed and presented at Level2BIM.org (not yet live). The website will be the permanent document point of reference.
  • All centrally-funded Government Departments will provide clear and complete ‘Employers Information Requirements’ (EIR) with all contracts.
  • Ongoing support for the Level 2 programme will remain with the BIM Task Group, who will continue to maintain bimtaskgroup.org with news, information and support updates.


By 3 October 2016

  • All departments will have the capability to electronically validate BIM information delivered from the supply chain.
  • Departments will be making progressively more use of supply chain data for key business activities.
  • The BIM Task Group will be engaged in delivering the ‘Digital Built Britain’ capabilities with progress updated at digital-built-britain.com

This preview clarifies what will be required, and a formal announcement will be made soon, which will hopefully add much-needed detail about each bullet point, especially for the stretch targets of 3 October.


Key themes from ICE BIM Conference

The conference sessions then focused on the delivery of Level 2 BIM, with an emphasis on the importance of a CDE, making BIM repeatable, ensuring collaboration and data security and how job roles may change in the future to adapt to the new tasks required in a world or digital engineering.


A 5-step repeatable execution template 

James Eaton shared a repeatable, execution plan successfully put to use at Laing O’Rourke:

  • Start with the end in mind – It really is about what the client wants.
  • Defines the process you are going to take – Remember to use the BIM Level 2 toolkit as a resource.
  • Assemble the team that can deliver to the plan – The team should include BIM experts/ evangelists, which really helps to transfer knowledge and ensure old habits are avoided.
  • Review, select and integrate the best software tools to support the delivery of all other steps. CONJECT support the idea that technology software must support people and process.
  • Execute the plan!

BIM is not expensive, but it is hard in the beginning.  An example is Dumfries and Galloway Hospital, which in the words of James Eaton ‘Even with all that structure in place, BIM is still hard.  But, using BIM it is possible to deliver safely, within budget, defect-free and on time.’


Security-minded BIM

Collaboration and data security are not mutually-exclusive.  This was the message from the UK Government Security Advisor, who said that the purpose of PAS1192-5 is for the industry to think about the value if their assets and information.

The industry can achieve a balance between collaboration and data security.  Avoiding hostile or malicious intentions doesn’t undermine collaboration, and that what is needed is the taking of ‘appropriate and proportionate’ steps to protect valued assets.

The clear message was that the secure foundations that organisations’ implement now for Level 2 BIM will stand them in good stead for new ways of working at Level 3, including increased availability of data.


London Underground taking steps to a data driven future

Trials at London Underground (LU) indicated that an ‘over-focus’ on the modelling aspects of BIM can ‘get in the way of getting the fundamentals right’.

In light of this LU have launched a Level 1 toolkit within the business.  Its aim is to set out the information requirements, measuring the capability of prospect suppliers via commercial BIM questions, plus setting out robust standards, methods and procedures.  The outcomes of this approach have been positive, and include improved verification and validation, better version control and greater clarity around roles and responsibilities.


Challenges faced when implementing Level 2 BIM

Of the six or more case studies of BIM implementation presented on the day, common challenges emerged:

  • Adoption of a BS1192-compliant CDE – Malcolm Taylor, Head of Technical Information at Crossrail expressed the view of other speakers when he stated: ‘a common data environment absolutely underpins the project.’
  • Differing levels of BIM awareness and compliance – Many speakers expressed the difficulty of getting a supply chain with differing levels of understanding and capability with BIM to adopt new behaviours and practices is an ongoing challenge.
  • Single source of the truth – Although a much overused phrase, the pursuit of a single source of the truth is a genuine goal.  The challenge here being to consolidate otherwise disparate interfaces and data sources.
  • Scalability of solutions – Ensuring BIM software solutions and processes can work at scale is an issue for large companies with programmes of works across countries and industries.


The BIM conversation has moved on

There is no doubt that progress is being made towards BIM adoption.  There seems general acceptance that BIM is here to stay, and that it has benefits for all stages of the asset lifecycle.

As time ticks towards the Government’s 4 April 2016 deadline, what is clear is that even though the headline at the start of the day was ‘The Final Countdown’, there is plenty of work to do both ahead of the deadline as well as after it, as this date is simply the first milestone in the journey of reaching the government’s desired long-term industry change.

About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

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