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BIM implementation in the UK: Elimination of the Final Problem

Bhushan Avsatthi, delves into the current BIM implementation across the UK and the struggles the industry continues to face when executing BIM level 2

Published: 06/02/2018

Country: United Kingdom

The UK became the undisputed BIM champion around the globe with its government and central construction council’s chief announcing BIM implementation for all public projects by April 2016 for which planning started years ago. But as 2017 came to an end, almost six years since the initial planning of implementation (in 2001), we look at the current state of BIM implementation across the UK. As the application of BIM continues, this is an effort to look more closely and eradicate the final challenges in implementing BIM.

Government role play in BIM playbook

Government or the central construction council of the UK has a significant contribution, right from providing infrastructure to training. This is also accompanied by anytime BIM help through support groups and task forces.

The government has been proactively promoting the removal of bottlenecks in BIM implementation to small and medium construction firms and contractors. It isn’t like the contractors and construction firms didn’t anticipate BIM coming, but the aid from government has essentially acted as the uptick. Though initiatives and assistance have been the true compliances for contractors, the construction industry stays a bit aloof from a complete BIM access.

The final problem

The entire idea of BIM implementation began with an interesting dimension of sharing project data and model assets to all disciplines stakeholders. However, the aim seems to be blurring as it descended from the government to the construction professionals. We have adopted it as the entire completed structure model only. We forgot conveniently that it is for the maintainable assets.

Such a blurring clouds our decisions while sharing information; and as they say, “We stay more interested in steel framing for the structure and not the foundation of the building.” The fear of security breaches keeps us from sharing our data across the enterprise in a collaborative environment of BIM Level 2. The only reason for this idea to be so deep-rooted is that we fail to look at the bigger picture.

Results for such backlogs are very apparent. One may find numerous construction firms across the UK that are 100% compliant to the government established BIM Level 2 protocols and have successfully bagged projects with COBie implementation. On the other hand, there exist construction firms who are still grappling to accept the changes as required for BIM implementation. If they overcome these final challenges – It would be a new sunrise for the entire AEC industry.

However, if we realise that the sharing of BIM data and model assets only brings us closer to efficient construction decision-making process, the misconceptions can be uprooted easily. For instance, sharing BIM data for MEP works or building products with the contractors, civil engineers, and architects allows an efficient planning for the spatial arrangement. Furthermore, a contractor would also look for manufacturers who are aligned with BIM workflows to prepare as-built BIM-ready models. Contractors can stay efficient and building product manufactures too can stay in business for longer with readily available BIM content. This way both parties can stay benefited.

A final move for the final problem

As cited above, government and other BIM groups have been of great help in assisting the advancement of new technologies. Reasons that a certain construction firm’s workforce isn’t comfortable adopting the new technology, is a mere excuse.

We need to develop a mindset that even without a mandate we are ready to adopt BIM workflows for level 2 implementation to grab the new opportunities knocking at our doorstep. The simplicity in BIM implementation is sure to rise with each passing day. Today, small contractors do not need to invest in expensive hardware and software infrastructure at the site; instead, they can simply use smartphones and tablets for quick referrals of project information.

We ought to surpass the fear of sharing the data and bring in more disciplines for efficient and informed decision-making that will surely cut the last minute changes. It will connect every stakeholder across the value chain and everyone associated with the construction project to let the construction management become a seamless practice.

While Level 2 implementation is just a stepping stone for getting the AEC industry acquainted with BIM level 3, it becomes inevitable to share data and establish better collaboration across the value chain. Achieving Life Cycle Management of the building through BIM-ready models is the final goal – BIM level 3. BIM consultants are looking at the interoperable and transact-able data. Furthermore, they can be accessed through Integrated Web Services as well for BIM, especially to keep offsite and onsite communications efficient. Such interoperability can be achieved only when all of the disciplines of building construction projects are interconnected with each other at the grassroots – BIM level 2.

Upcoming times will need better collaboration and better communication throughout the construction value chain. As a result, the higher the project information sharing, the better the project implementation will be. We need to go back to the original idea of BIM implementation – better sharing project data – to get acquainted with the BIM level 2, and pave the way ahead to welcome BIM level 3 workflows.


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