With much focus on the public sector and large-scale projects, it is often a misconception that BIM is only the preserve of cash-rich organizations undertaking vast and complex schemes.
On the contrary, it is perhaps the small, nimble and adaptable practice that has much to gain from what BIM has to offer. The real barrier is change management and how we, as humans, adapt. It is here that the small practice gains the upper hand.
As we progress in this digital age, communication and interaction via social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is on the increase. Through the power of tweets, status updates, blog posts and online forums the small practice has the ability to tap into a world of online communities where there is a real sense of passion and enthusiasm and an environment of collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Individuals should be able to access this information easily and influence a team without having to focus on practice strategies or needing to force their ideas through differing levels of management.
It is here that there is an opportunity for the SME to gain an online presence within the BIM environment as an agent of change.
Whether it’s a link to a document, a discussion on best practice or organising a tweet, the online community provides a vast untapped free resource of information and comradeship. This ideology has been helped by various leading industry figures showcasing and sharing their knowledge to those around them. Events such as BIM Show Live only began as small entities within the community and have now grown and expanded to become industry leading events.
Communicating and networking
Online communication must be accompanied by physical meetings and it is important to recognise that the aim of these incentives is to meet others involved in the field to share knowledge.
Networking is hugely important, allowing those interested in BIM to meet regularly to discuss themes and the progression of BIM in the industry. It is here that we have seen the success of the Construction Industry Council’s regional BIM Hubs, whose aims are to up the skillset of the industry and be present and vocal across the country.
The Task Group brings expertise from industry, government, public sector, institutes and academia and produces a monthly newsletter outlining forthcoming events and developments across the UK. As well as providing a good clear set of frequently asked questions the site offers information on a series of BIM processes, as well as lessons learnt from the government trial projects.
Central to the BIM Task Group are a number of partner organisations, including the BIM4 groups which represent various areas of the industry.
A specific BIM4SMEs group is made up of individual organisations from different sector backgrounds including specialist subcontractors, architects, FM providers and construction bodies.
All these organisations are SMEs or have a key interest in ensuring SMEs are well informed and recognised for their advancing of BIM.
The resources below outline current industry thinking. They include events, online communities and individuals influencing BIM. These resources are growing by the day as more BIM users create their own voices.
BIM Task Group
The group’s aim is to support the government construction strategy’s main objective of achieving Level 2 BIM by 2016. The site provides support, access to all BIM4 Groups and lessons learnt documents. It highlights the latest news and quick industry updates. The website also contains the latest links to the government projects.
Construction Industry Council (CIC) and Regional BIM Hubs
The CIC set up the Regional BIM Hubs with the BIM Task Group to encourage the industry in BIM adoption. They are authors of the CIC BIM protocol, at the heart of the legal framework of the 1192 suite of standards. The Hubs run free events across the UK and their primary aim is to share knowledge throughout the industry and disseminate information generated by the BIM Task Group around its incentives and goals leading to 2016.
BuildingSMART’s primary aim is to improve process and training across the UK. They work with leading figures across differing sectors to define standards. BuildingSMART events and workshops are worthwhile to those wanting to adapt to new technologies and ideals relating to BIM implementation.
Follow for the calendar-listed entries of most BIM events in the UK.
Twitter #ukbimcrew and various BIM-related Tweeters
The #ukbimcrew has become a legacy to the early adopters in the UK seeking out and sharing knowledge amongst each other on an open platform. The group is not exclusive, nor does it focus on one area of BIM implementation or process. It is rather a search mechanism for the industry to seek out an exhaustive array of discussions, debates, questions and information all relating to the UK BIM community. It is a collection based on multiple users experiences and has been collated from late 2011.
NBS National BIM Library
The NBS National BIM Library has developed a library of BIM-based components for the industry.
For those on their early BIM journey the NBS National BIM Library helps to support BIM-enabled processes and provides for both generic and manufacturer’s specific content for building information models. The NBS also supports Dr Stephen Hamil’s blog (Director of Design and Innovation at RIBA Enterprises) which is a useful resource for up and coming information relating to BIM:
BIM Show Live
This is an annual event that draws in all industry leading figures to discuss their project experiences in relation to BIM. It is an important event to not only learn from those leading the industry, but also to network.
The Construction Project Information Committee (CPIC)
CPIC are the focus of a number of well-known BIM related projects including Uniclass 1.4 and the emerging Uniclass 2 standards for classification of information. They also provide a number of useful documents that are used in the pre-qualification process for Level 2 BIM projects.
ThinkBIM is a multidisciplinary group from Leeds Beckett University passionate about industry change, collaboration and sharing knowledge. The team consists of a variety of industry professionals all passionately involved in aiding the industry in its development of BIM-enabled processes. They regularly host events and ensure all disciplines are addressed.
Software User Group Events
Most software vendors support user groups globally and both Autodesk and Bentley have a series of user groups spread across the country and indeed across the world. The groups help to develop technical solutions for a cross-disciplinary approach to learning and the events enable sharing of real life solutions when it comes to BIM authoring software solutions.
BIM Small Practice Perspective Events
RIBA hosted a series of events in 2013 and 2014, as an introduction to BIM implementation from the viewpoint of the SME, focusing on sharing knowledge for architects in the UK.
Future events will be a good resource for SMEs to make connections to those early adopters pushing forward in technological solutions for building and design.
The UK community is moving incredibly quickly in its adoption of BIM-enabled processes and it is important for the SME to remain agile and open to developments.
The resources will continue to evolve and change as we become increasingly more sophisticated and therefore it is important to stay informed and keep abreast of new updates and individuals involved in BIM.
Further readingBIM in Small Practices: Illustrated Case Studies by Robert Klaschka
As more and more practices are realising the benefits it brings to design, sustainability and construction, BIM is revolutionising architecture and construction. However, there is a perception that BIM is a process best left to large practices – requiring significant resources and the ability to invest heavily in IT. This book overturns that misconception: introducing a selection of inspirational BIM-enabled projects by small architectural practices.
Full of practical tips and hard-won experience, BIM in Small Practices: Illustrated Case Studies includes contributions from industry specialists who identify and explore the important issues for small practices. This landmark publication will motivate small practices who are considering taking those first steps towards implementing BIM.