As we move into the future it is important to try to understand how our industry will begin to evolve, learn and create opportunities for ourselves and our businesses. BIM has become a critical component in facilitating this growth and will continue to do so. Not only have we seen incredible force move through our industry in terms of adoption due to an aggressive government mandate, but we’ve also seen a community and culture adopt a change worth discussing. The BIM debate no longer exists; it is rather a discussion on how organisations are embedding BIM-related activities within their current practice, rather than ‘starting from scratch’, and implementing how this will be achieved, writes Rebecca De Cicco, Director at Digital Node.
Many supply chain members are already on board, yet the need for the client to fully understand how BIM can provide positive results in regard to the way they manage their assets is still a critical area of importance and one to be addressed. This is becoming more important via adoption of the Level 2 BIM process and the need for the intelligent client representative, which forms an important part of the role requirements in regard to BIM. It is critical that this role, or roles, will help support the client during all stages of a project and into occupation, whilst the need for management of information and the BIM process must continue to be monitored at all times.
There are many areas we need to address that may not be at a point where industry is able to work within a BIM environment. Not only are these areas focused on our current skills shortages but also on the need for an industry focused on the future, and 2025, as well as the ambitions of the industrial strategy and our future workplace. 2025 is only nine years away and to ensure we have a smart industry, engaged with technology and fuelled by young people passionate to drive it, we won’t succeed. It should be seen as the responsibility of every individual involved in construction to drive this approach.
A diverse and openly-engaged workforce, focused on technology and innovation, will see a positive increase in terms of skills and knowledge in regard to BIM. It is critical that the younger generation are engaged, and that our schools and universities approach this in a way that allows this growth to flourish.
We must be promoting a diverse work culture within the UK and globally, not only to create opportunities for future professionals but also to promote the UK stance on diversity and engagement with minority groups. Groups such as Women in BIM and BIM2050 will help to sustain and grow this area and promote change, all of which I am very passionate about being involved with and supporting.
2011 and the delivery of the Government Construction Strategy was some time ago, and the result of the subsequent released reports, standards, research and network of individuals created in the last five years has seen a very positive change in the way we previously approached BIM and digital construction. As a result, a diverse, capable and technology-fuelled workforce is just around the corner.
Managing Director, Technical Services, ISS
Historically, many Facilities Managers have been distant from the early stages of a construction project, mirrored with minimal designer and constructor involvement post-handover. BIM (including Soft Landings) has the potential to finally achieve the long-held aspirations of many working in the Built Environment, including Facilities Managers. It offers the tantalising opportunity to completely integrate FM with Construction. The benefits of the new way of working are now being demonstrated in real projects. Fundamentally, though, there is still a need for the Facilities Manager to be accepted as a key part of the team. To enable this, our next steps have to be to put in place new procurement models and invest in skills development, to enable us to reap the full benefits of digital operational management enabled by BIM.
Head of BIM, Sir Robert McAlpine
The progression I have witnessed in the construction industry during 2015-2016 has been even more staggering than previous years, and having returned from maternity leave in November 2015, I am perhaps better placed than many to comment on the change.
Perhaps the most prominent development I have observed is actually from our clients. Employer’s Information Requirements have now become commonplace and conversations have shifted to focus on organisational requirements rather than solely about de-risking at project level.
I’ve always seen BIM as an opportunity to deliver improved surety of cost and programme, and provide safer, more sustainable projects (irrespective of phase), but it is exciting to think we are now starting to move past that to see how the data we develop during the project can enable more efficient, safer and more sustainable organisations.
Lead Construction Consultant, Autodesk
Perhaps the most significant indicator of full technology adoption is when its acronyms become a part of everyday speech. For instance, even without detailed understanding, while most people can’t decode the abbreviations, they generally know what PCs are used for, what IT Managers do and that 500MB of data is not nearly enough for their monthly phone usage.
By comparison, the general public remains blissfully unaware of what BIM is, or of the UK Government’s mandate for its adoption in 2016. This suggests that, despite our admirable leadership here in implementing viable national standards for capital works information management through BIM, now is not the time to relax into complacency.
Before we can declare ‘mission accomplished’, we must remain on our charted course; all the way through to Level 3 and beyond. We also need to harness our best and brightest in a collaborative drive which so realises the full benefits of unifying model-derived data as to make ordinary citizens sit up and take notice.
BIM Manager, Willmot Dixon Construction Limited
We have seen a huge increase in BIM adoption from consultants over the past couple of years, and in terms of meeting the Level 2 requirements it’s really encouraging to see. We have found that consultants are using technology which isn’t traditionally associated with the construction industry to realise the benefits of BIM.
The main areas where we are finding the shortfalls are with both the supply chain and public sector clients. The supply chain have the desire to integrate BIM into their business; however, there are still fundamental knowledge gaps which need addressing, and with lack of funding this has fallen to industry groups to take the lead on.
BIM impacts and benefits all aspects of the building life cycle and we have found that with many public sector clients, CAPX and OPEX are approached separately. For the full benefits of BIM to be realised, the asset life cycle from engagement through to operational use need to be considered as one. As an industry, we’ve made fantastic progress in our BIM journey but we need to keep the momentum going to address these issues.
Managing Director and Founder, Class of your Own
Young people – that’s those that are still in school – possess all the attributes to make Level 2 BIM a huge success. Most have a ‘can do’ attitude, technology is child’s play, and collaboration comes naturally – they do it every day on Snapchat and Instagram.
And get this: contrary to popular belief, there is no skills gap; the children I work with already possess a heap of transferable skills that makes them good to go with BIM. Our big problem is that they don’t aspire to join us because they don’t know this spectacular 21st century industry exists. And no wonder. Whilst the Government’s drive towards Digital Built Britain is impressive, the rope around its neck is an education system where Construction is represented by the spade rather than the mouse, and where good brains are still directed towards traditional academic destinations.
The full potential of BIM can only be realised if there is a next generation to continue the good work that has already been done. There is still a long way to go, and until there is a consistent, corresponding effort to educate the educators – resulting in an education fit for the 21st century – this will be the industry’s greater challenge.
BIM Consultant, Cirrus Consultant Services/ Client Engagement Leader, BIM Task Group Core Team
When I started my BIM journey I had the advantage of a client who understood the value they wanted from BIM: not only project de-risking through improved design coordination, but also data that could be used to better inform and help manage their decision-making process, throughout both Capital and Operational stages of their asset’s life cycle. As a result I quickly moved away from an architectural designer’s point of view, understanding the wider context of coordinated/ assured information and the potential value of this to all involved in the construction process.
As a BIM Consultant I still come across organisations that believe BIM is something that can be bought from external experts. Although it’s true that an expert will be needed to help with strategic implementation, provision of technical/ IT solutions, training etc., the best way forward is to aim to eventually embed BIM in everything that we do, so that ultimately it becomes ‘business as usual’. This requires good change management and an understanding of which benefits are key to an organisation’s success.
The use of digital construction methods and the resulting assured data will be very disruptive to our industry; the improvement and value that this offers us all is what excites me.
Director of Technical Practice, AECOM
It is great to see the Level 2 tools solidifying, being brought into use, facilitating a tentative start of the transition to a digital built environment industry. When I see comments and observations on the Level 2 suite of documents, or browse the agendas for many BIM conferences, I realise that the single biggest challenge for our industry is communicating the breadth and scale of change that will occur. Many people frame BIM as a transition from CAD whereas the reality is significantly different. Emerging digital environments enable a profoundly different way for project teams to work. More intelligent geometric models linked to many different forms of data sources that will give the designers access to rich data via cost, programme, health and safety or other ‘real time‘ dashboards with links to big data, and data analytics will inform and drive profoundly different new evidence-based design processes. The gap in perception against the realities and possibilities underlines the communication challenge during this period of substantial change, and the importance of developing new whole-life learning environments that will enable us all to engage with this exciting new world.
Lecturer in Construction Project Management, UTS and BIM Specialist at Professional Construction Strategies Group (PCSG)
BIM, to me, really means adopting best practice information management in construction. Many companies and project teams seem to lose sight of the need to develop proper strategies for managing their information, aligned to their key business goals. We want to work smarter by harnessing digital technologies and processes effectively, but for the industry to do that we need people with the right skills. These include the ability to work effectively within multi-disciplinary collaborative teams, as well as more technical, software and discipline-specific skills.
So far, education providers (and particularly Universities) have been struggling to catch up with the needs of industry in this area. We continue to educate our different professional disciplines in silos, when instead we should be aiming for T-shaped graduates (those who have breadth of knowledge across the other disciplines, together with in-depth knowledge of their own discipline). The UK BIM mandate has sometimes been referred to as a sort of ‘Trojan Horse’ that is triggering a huge shake-up in the way our traditionally conservative industry works. While this has somewhat negative connotations, I think that the need to meet industry demands for graduates in this area provides our educational institutions with a great opportunity to rethink how we educate our future construction professionals. As they say, the future belongs to the integrators!
Director and Lead Consultant, Crenova Consulting, a KnowledgePoint Brand
I believe that we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the whole construction industry – and that BIM will have a key part to play in that transformation. The challenges that BIM addresses are far from new. Many of the problems identified by The Simon Report of 1944: from the tendency of clients ‘to simply accept the cheapest price’ to consequent issues with quality, to the need for ‘a more collaborative approach’ have remained stubbornly the same ever since.
Today, however, for the first time for over 70 years, the chance to achieve genuine change is within our grasp. BIM has created the momentum. The technology to support it is largely in place. Standards have been set to drive consistency of adoption. Critically, too, government is committed to working with industry to drive the change agenda. We are seeing that in the UK but also more broadly across Europe and the wider world. The newly-formed EU BIM Task Group, for
example, is focused on aligning working practices across Europe and developing a project environment where clients are defining clear requirements based on their business needs and outcomes and where there is clarity of roles and responsibilities and the process of managing information.
So, as we look to the future, the success of BIM so far has given us a unique opportunity to drive change by working towards these common objectives and ways of working that improve efficiency, that support health and safety and that give value for money and better outcomes for all stakeholders.