By Gregory Allouis, Strategic Solutions Director, SPIE UK
Operators in the built environment are waking up to the value that they can derive from using Building Information Modelling (BIM). To help the industry operate faster and more efficiently, a shift that was first started by the UK government legislating that all buildings procured by public bodies must leverage BIM Level 2 standards—to meet targets on project delivery times, imported materials, project costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent—is now gaining momentum.
All Hands-on Deck
Collaboration on projects is a constant challenge for those in the built environment. With numerous stakeholders involved, from architects, to consultancies and principal, and sub-contractors, accountability for everything on a project can be difficult to maintain. BIM provides a means to rectify this. The introduction of BIM means that there is transparency amongst everyone involved as to what is required at each stage, from the initial designs through to delivering the work in the real world. By creating a single source of truth, systems are designed that can be built realistically.
BIM can also help those in the built environment be more competitive as it allows more precise planning and reduces the likelihood of problems and delays. Through the use of 5D BIM skills, engineers are able to enhance their models with each component at every stage of the project. As a result, prices can be accurately calculated without undue contingencies, allowing for more competitive bids when pitching for contracts.
"By using BIM technology, work can be planned exactingly, with the upmost safety, as well as facilitating prefabrication"
BIM doesn’t have to be Big
The industry started to apply BIM to larger projects with the requirement for collaboration amongst different contractors, mainly because of the amount of design information that needs to be shared and the need to coordinate the different packages. Once a project team is experienced in applying BIM to a largescale project, it is only natural to use this methodology with smaller contracts where a smart design would also be beneficial and valueable.
Whether you’re using BIM or not, BIM technology is now helping create greater efficiencies. For example, software such as REVIT allows automating or semis automating of activities, such as quantity take-offs which saves time and brings consistency across projects.
Designing Technical Systems that can be Built
BIM can create value for even the smallest jobs, right down to moving a doorway. For a job this small, designing in BIM may seem like overkill, but it affords a level of accuracy that helps avoid errors. This accuracy translates into speed and certainty. Firstly, there is no chance that the new doorway position will unexpectedly interfere with other services in the building, because the BIM model will have shown this. The process of pricing the job is also expedited, because the estimator can see exactly what materials are needed. As a result, the work can be delivered in the time frame and in the cost that’s expected, without any delays or complications, freeing up time for engineers to work on other projects.
Regardless of the size or value of the job, more and more clients are now becoming aware that BIM is beneficial for their projects. Whilst this was kick started by the government’s initiative to meet its targets, once customers recognise the value they can get from the BIM process, it is possible that they will want access to those benefits at a regular basis.
BIM can also deliver incredible value when it comes to sites that continue to be in use whilst work is carried out or are potentially dangerous. By using BIM technology, work can be planned exactingly, with the upmost safety, as well as facilitating prefabrication. The result is that the need for shutdowns during the working day is significantly reduced.
SPIE leveraged BIM in the similar way when asked to replace systems critical to the running of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee. The plant that needed replacing was in a rooftop plant room of a seven-story building, presenting a significant engineering and logistical challenge. By using 5D BIM practices, the team was able to plan every stage of the works from start to finish. The client was assured downtime would be kept to a minimum whilst also ensuring a smoother delivery of works on-site.
It’s important that the built environment continues to adopt and innovate with BIM. Promoting BIM Level 2 is the first step for many and then the industry needs to set its sights on Level 3. BIM should not be thought of exclusively as a design tool, its value to those in the built environment is far greater. Through better collaboration and coordination of stakeholders, more competitive pricing and by giving people the tools they need to design systems which can be built efficiently, BIM can help businesses drive growth.