A recent Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GM CoC) Property & Construction event focusing on Building Information Modelling (BIM) brought together a mix of architects, consultants, engineers and contractors with the aim of dispelling common myths and misunderstandings surrounding the process.
Many attendees were either piloting BIM or had not yet adopted a platform. This initially seemed surprising given Manchester’s recent adoption of BIM for two of the city’s landmark public projects – the redevelopment of the Town Hall and Central Library. However, it perhaps represents a small sample of the trepidation and uncertainty shown by some within the construction industry of how to both implement and manage BIM effectively, particularly on anything other than large-scale projects.
What is BIM and why is it important?
BIM is the digital representation of the physical and functional aspects of a building. Without the coordination and collaboration of the team feeding in to it however, it’s just 3D computer aided design (CAD). The BIM process crosses three levels, each with various degrees of adoption and collaboration - Lonely BIM (level 1), Collaborative BIM (level 2) and Integrated BIM (level 3). As part of its construction strategy, the government is looking to reduce the cost of public building procurement by 20% throughout the build cycle and sees BIM as the vehicle to deliver improved collaboration and efficiency in the design and build phases.
By forcing the adoption of BIM level 2 by 2016 for all public buildings, the government is hoping to ‘lead the construction industry to the water’. But for this approach to be successful, the construction industry must shake off the adversarial culture which often sees different disciplines battling against each other rather than working together.
Here’s some key points from the event:
- Early involvement of the whole project delivery chain helps to set the design parameters and encourage standardisation and offsite manufacturing.
- It’s all about the people involved and the exchange of information.
- Outsourcing BIM to third party suppliers is a short-term view for the industry.
- BIM offers an opportunity to update construction procurement and re-evaluate the existing supply chain.
- In many cases, implementing BIM is easier for smaller organisations as there is less change management required.
- The technology is now there to back-up those organisations looking to implement BIM. The industry just needs to have the confidence.
- BIM is not going to go away. It’s likely that the private sector will mandate BIM following the 2016 government deadline.
Questions around the impact of BIM
Having seen some successful case studies at the event, the benefits of adopting BIM are clear. However it does raise some further questions. At BDB our clients are product manufacturers who invest heavily in their engineering capability and technical support service. Will the collaborative approach of BIM effectively close-out industry suppliers who can offer experienced insight and help overcome project challenges? Also, with the government encouraging standardisation within building design and construction, will this have an impact on innovation? The feelings of the panel at the GM CoC were that product manufacturers should focus on building relationships with specifiers and influencers throughout the supply chain to provide support to architects, consultants and contractors.
You can read about how to make communications with specifiers count in our previous blog post here. If you’re looking to build relationships with specifiers and influencers through effective marketing communications then get in touch with the BDB Built Environment team.
Thanks to the event panel for some insightful discussions: