Professor David Philp, Head of BIM at Mace focusses attention on the challenges to achieving Level 2 BIM by 2016, but also the benefits it creates for construction delivery.
The H.M. Government “pull” for Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) on all centrally procured projects by 2016 has been a catalyst for change in the UK built environment. Coupled with a need for ‘Soft Landings’, we are focusing on operational outcomes supported by digital data sets to unlock better outcomes at all stages of the asset life-cycle, especially in ensuring a better user experience.
The Level 2 BIM challenges are diminishing all the time, and the heavy lifting around the processes have been completed by B.S.I. who have published both PAS1192:2 and PAS1192:3, which look at information management and exchanges in the asset lifecycle. To make these work, it is essential that a common data environment is established right from the outset with strong governance, especially around classification systems and naming conventions.
It is crucial also that the models are looked at through the lens of all the participants on the project. We often see models that are purely design driven without thought to the other elements of construction delivery and use cases such as digital quantity take-off or project scheduling. We regularly need to repurpose these models or create a parallel construction model that has the appropriate level of detail and elemental indexation to facilitate other work-flows.
Level 2 is also about the creation of structured data and information exchanges, and like most organisations we have been on a learning curve. Level 2 requires us to produce COBie UK 2012 as a neutral information exchange platform and we have been exploring the different ways of generating and validating this. Key is our BIM execution plan which looks at how much detail, and when it is needed, as well as who manages the exchanges. Level 2 BIM has made us more proficient in not just information modelling, but also information management.
BIM is becoming the new norm within our business and it is helping us enhance outcomes in safety, efficiency, and sustainability through a collaborative working environment. The 3D model is being used to rehearse the build sequence, and by adding the time component (4D), we are able to simulate and co-ordinate the construction sequence and logistical solutions. This also leads to better understanding by the supply chain as we use the model environment as a briefing tool and increasingly use it to create visual method statements. Essentially we are building better before we start to build – once in the model, removing waste then again perfectly on site with confidence that the constructability and co-ordination issues have been ameliorated. This was demonstrated on the 240 Blackfriars Road project – a 19-storey office building for Great Portland Estates where we have used BIM to reduce the allocation of 5% for builders work associated with the M&E installation to 2.5%. By using BIM to co-ordinate the design, and virtually simulate the construction process, the risk pricing allocation of £2m was reduced to £0.5m because risks could be much more easily identified with BIM.
Level 2 BIM and Soft Landings are a key enabling strategy for us, and we have developed a business model around it called ALi360 (Asset Life-cycle Integration). This is pivotal to the mission of operational excellence; it utilises digital tools, integrated processes and structured data sets to visualise, simulate and optimise the asset. This is underpinned by our people and culture of innovation and collaborative working.
Developing our processes, data definitions and creating a capable, digitally informed team has not only led to repeated savings and reduced risk, but also cemented us as a recognised leader in innovative working.
We are implementing the ALi360 on a number of projects in the UK and internationally. The €1.45bn Gutenborg project in St Petersburg, Russia, which has a Level 2 BIM maturity level, is using this initiative as a collaborative software and business process to facilitate the project delivery to challenging timescales.
The Gutenborg project is a beacon of best practice in the residential construction sector. It responds to Russia’s demand for high volume and high quality housing, and it addresses many of the challenges that currently face the residential construction sector in terms of efficiency.
The BIM data and subsequent processes facilitate the coordination and the interface between those designing vertical build, horizontal infrastructure and public realm, as well as managing the operation of Gutenborg throughout its lifecycle. It is also being used for cost management and schedule control.
It is therefore essential that we provide our employees with training under our BIM educational framework that we have developed. We run hands-on awareness sessions and with respect to Level 2 BIM, we run an in-house certified training programme in conjunction with Glasgow Caledonian University. This offering is also available to our supply chain and clients via the Mace Business School.
Our BIM Team from across our business are also increasingly looking beyond construction delivery, to how BIM is integrated with the CAFM system and Building Management Systems and through predictive modelling to ensure not just better maintenance, but better asset performance. Indeed, as we look to the future through our innovation programme – asset telemetry – we believe will be of key importance, embedding sensors into the structure to ensure continuous monitoring and to facilitate future adaptability.
So will Level 2 BIM be a reality by 2016? From our perspective undoubtedly we want to shape a better future for our industry and BIM is a key enabler to making it happen. ■
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David Philp FRICS FCIOB
Head of BIM at Mace, Head of BIM Implementation, HM Government BIM Task Group, Professor at
Glasgow Caledonian University and visiting Professor at Middlesex University
Tel:+44 (0) 20 3522 3000