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BIM – Time to get real !


BIM – Time to get real !


[Originally posted on LinkedIn on 20 November 2014]


This article is intentionally written with passion and aggression, a bit of a rant, so as the engender discussion, hoping to improve the overall outcome.

Why are any of us at all interested in BIM. Is it just because the UK Government has stated that all publicly procured construction will be Level 2 BIM after 1 April 2016? That is not very far away. How many of us really understand what Level 2 really means? Is it all too hard?

Apparently so! I recently heard of a significant and well known design house that is not keeping up with its BIM deliverables on a large project. The BIM is only available after the particular work is constructed. What is this about? Are we still thinking in 3D, using a special skill to translate to 2D and then printing out to paper? Then someone else uses another special skill t0 interpret that 2D information into 3D to construct the item. Where is the efficiency in that process? Of course BIM costs extra, and takes longer if we do it as an adjunct to design. We should be designing directly in 3D. Designing directly using 3D intelligent objects with all of the parameters and attributes attached. Designing directly in BIM!

Oh, it costs too much to set up. I don’t think many design houses will be getting rid of their CAD stations and computers and retuning to drawing boards and slide rules. There was a cost in that change, but would you go back? Was the cost a good investment? It is true that there is a start-up cost to BIM. The software and the training, to mention two. However, there are benefits that far out way the initial investment. Oh, I think I just heard that the benefits have not been proven. The Government figures are all hype.

Well even if the headline figures are perhaps difficult to obtain, why would you not try to obtain even a fraction of those savings. Why would you delay achieving that additional profit. A person a while back devised a way for the toothpaste industry to make more sales and profit. Increase the diameter of the cap, and hence the delivery tube. That worked, so the next step was to increase the length of a toothbrush head. Why are we, as an industry so reluctant to take on change? Change is all around us all of the time. Innovation is good. Progress is good.

Next hurdle. BIM is not finished yet. Level 2 is not properly defined? The codification is not agreed either locally or internationally. The software is not able to provide a federated model. ‘We will start BIM when it is all sorted out!’ I hear all sorts of reasons for not doing things. Some real, some just based on misunderstanding or misinformation. The reality is more simple, jump on now or miss the boat. It will be a big struggle to get up to speed in the required timescales. I have also heard some opinion that the boat had sailed in 2013, and if you were not on board, then it was a long and difficult swim.

However, just pretending to do BIM, just being on the periphery is not the way forward. It is, or should be an entirely immersive thing. It is not CAD on Steroids. It is not just a piece of software for the technician to learn. It is not just a new process. It is a people thing. It is an enabler for better communication and collaboration. I continually state in my BIM strategies that BIM is 70% people. It is about the change in attitude to make it all happen. That is not just the designer, or the contractor. It is no good the estimator putting head in sand as saying BIM has nothing to do with me. Nor the planner, nor the quantity surveyor. I have created a mind map of BIM and all of the things that it has the potential to influence. Almost nobody involved in construction projects or asset management remains unaffected. BIM has to be viewed as a holistic all-encompassing thing which is nearly as significant as the industrial revolution, or the technical revolution. It is the beginning of the knowledge revolution.

Perhaps you now think it is time to start taking BIM seriously, so will change the title of the CAD manager to BIM manager. There, job done. No, it most defiantly is not. How many board directors are there, of major companies, that have BIM, Innovation, or Change in their title? BIM, as with all other change programmes needs, it is essential to have, top level support and direction. Without it BIM implementation will be very difficult. Drive from the top and get everyone involved. Write a strategy and deliver it. But do it properly and get engaged. Get the benefits in safety, efficiency, quality, and cost savings as soon as possible.

End of rant.

Replies to Comments

Thanks for the comment Anthony. I agree, it should not be like that. Tracey is correct there are ways to be more efficient than via drawings. Following the survey, and its translation to a 3D model, the design is the next major step. The efficiencies than can be obtained by designing directly in BIM are significant, and they can be continued into construction by the transfer of the model instead of drawings, including as a Contractual Document.

 I agree that Clients need to be instrumental on leading BIM. The last BIM implementation strategy I wrote had the client at the core, maintaining control and providing leadership. Clients and Procurement will be the subject of another of my articles.

Hi Mark, Thanks for the comment. How well the survey work is done at the conception of a project sets the foundation for the BIM process throughout the project lifecycle. I agree that it is a game changer and missing out is not a realistic option.

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