The move towards the mandatory use of BIM in public sector projects as set out this week in the Government's Construction Strategy is certainly a step in the right direction. But does it really go far enough to achieve the full benefits and cost savings available through this technology?
The strategy sets outs that a requirement that projects must use BIM Level 2 by 2016 but is it enough to speed up the process? This level equates to providing fully collaborative 3D BIM, but the key advantages at project implementation stage flow from the ability to model 4D (time) , 5D (cost) and beyond (the strategy does hark at this in terms of electronic asset management data).
Whilst it is fully accepted that "The new Construction Strategy represents an excellent opportunity for the Government and the industry to work together”(RICS), now is the time that industry accepts responsibility to deliver improved value and seizes the interest and focus on BIM to provide and produce better designed, coordinated and planned projects.
Alongside this there needs to be a “stepping up” to the mark in terms of better procurement, integrated and collaborative teams and increased sustainability in schemes regardless of the regulatory sticks that are imposed to drive compliance.
The momentum towards Building Information Modelling (BIM) has certainly been increasing over the last 12 months and the tipping point is not too far away for model based processes becoming the norm. The government strategy can become the catalyst to finally deliver upon the clear benefits that BIM promises. With the major clients in the industry pulling and the forward thinking members of the supply chain pushing, construction now has the opportunity to streamline and change a fragmented and often inefficient industry in need of modernization. With the impetus behind us and free collaboration platforms such as Tekla BIMsight that support model based integration and coordination there is no excuse not to get involved in BIM and model based processes.”
Whilst the new construction strategy clearly sets the goal of Level 2 BIM on public projects there is as yet no clear roadmap to achieving this and overcoming some of the issues associated with skills and knowledge gaps which are critical to effective BIM deployment within a short few years. The complexity and nature of BIM needs to be addressed and deployment needs to consider developments in consultant collaboration protocols in Europe and changes to procurement in UK contracts and appointments. The recurring concern regarding Insurance and Legal issues and liabilities as a hindrance to collaboration whilst more of an issue at Level 3 implementation need addressing now if we are to move to a Level 2 target.
ThinkBIM will certainly be covering some of the softer issues around enabling BIM on to projects including the legal/insurance issues, the role of the institutions in supporting BIM, cultural and leadership issues and the way in which people, process and systems will need to come together to provide solutions.
Let's not forget that the Government’s strategy paper is to deliver ‘significant cost reductions’ and that BIM is one of the enablers in this respect, a means to an end not an end in itself, therefore it must fit with an overall strategy that relentlessly focuses on delivering improved value.