Hinesh Mistry, Water Global Technology Leader – BIM at CH2M HILL explains why he is confident that the UK construction industry is meeting BIM Level 2 and that we can go even further
Back in 2011, the deadline was set to produce and adopt a UK standard for Building Information Modelling (BIM) across England for UK government departments. The main drivers for that adoption were numerous but included an overall reduction in the cost of construction across the UK, the encouragement of technological uptake in the construction industry and as a result, the exporting of UK talent to other parts of the world. The final, and some would say most important, is to enable the UK government to better understand the portfolio of assets it owns and to compare assets across departments and thus benchmark its own infrastructure.
Now we are in 2016, which was the target year set for the Level 2 adoption, it would be prudent to understand the journey we have undertaken and ask the question, “Is the UK construction industry working to BIM Level 2?”
Looking back at the last four years, it’s hard to believe the incredible journey the industry has been on and the enthusiasm generated by contractors and consultants alike in the propulsion towards embracing a new way of working. This began with the development of the BS 1192 series which has created a standard method of naming, filing and transmitting documentation and data across a project and further into Asset Management. We have had contracts amended with the CIC BIM protocol making BIM a contractual requirement of a project. We have also created a Digital Plan of Work which sets the framework for deliverables, data-drops and Information Delivery Plans. Another highlight of the last year was the creation of a new classification system, Uniclass 2015, which defines a code that can be used to represent every component, product, system or element in a Project Information model. This will aid future transfer on information as we move to computer-to-computer working. For myself, all of these new items have a single theme throughout: standardisation.
Through standardisation of objects, documents, workflows and data we begin to collectively work in a more consistent manner regardless of originating organisation and work with greater fidelity across organisations. It is this shift towards standardisation that has created a paradigm shift in the attitudes towards BIM Level 2, technology adoption and the benefits it will bring the construction industry.
In my previous article, one hurdle was the adoption of these standards by the software vendors to include elements like COBie and object-based modelling as part of their offering. A real targeted and coordinated push by clients and the supply chain alike is beginning to bear fruit as major applications for 3D modelling will now be including structured data (COBie) as outputs as well as open standards-based outputs like IFC included within the data schema. This is fantastic news for users as it enables the input of data into object modelling applications and output in a structured format. This frees the flow of information across projects and thus will, over time, mean that data is freed from the constraints of word, excel and PDF’s.
Another one of the hurdles that was facing the industry was adoption of the BIM Level 2 standard by client organisations, as many that I talked to were under the impression that this was of benefit to the supply chain only. Over the years, this view has altered with many now seeing the potential benefits that BIM can bring to their organisation, and including with their framework and local contracts, BIM as standard clauses. It is encouraging to see that there are multiple clients with Employers Information Requirements, Master Information Delivery Plans and BIM Execution Plans in the tendering process. All of these show the realisation from the client that structured usable data (as defined in BS 1192-4) is a commodity and can be bought. There are two assets being procured, a built asset and a digital asset. The digital asset created in accordance with the British Standard is of benefit to a client and will, over time, become just as useful as the built asset.
To answer the initial question as to whether the UK construction industry is working to UK BIM Level 2 it seems clear to me, and others in the sector, that the answer is a clear “yes”. The adoption of the standards are growing and the required documentation and framework is in place.
What remains to be seen however, is how the construction industry continues to develop and enrich the standardisation process to go much deeper than that set out in 2011 and realise the full potential of what will effectively be a Digital Built Britain. Given the enthusiasm built over the last four years, the numerous “BIM4” working groups and debates between clients and the supply chain, all working towards the standardisation of working across the industry, I am wholly confident that we will be able to realise the benefits that were set out in the government paper on BIM adoption across the UK and build a level of BIM maturity that exceeds the initial standards set out in 2011.
Water Global Technology Leader (GTL) – BIM
Tel: +44 (0)20 3479 8763