Neil Thompson, director of digital construction at SNC-Lavalin, discusses Atkins acquiring the British Standards Institute’s Kitemark for BIM Level 2
The complexity of our infrastructure is growing and has rendered the traditional paper-based approach of delivery unfit for purpose. This dynamic has created a clear opportunity for the construction industry to accelerate its digital transformation, however it does come with some alarming risks in terms of cyber security.
The transformation of print media, the music industry and retail has enabled us to see the benefits of digitalisation in our everyday lives. However, we are struggling to transpose those benefits into our professional lives in the construction industry!
In our sector, we are systematically connecting our social and economic infrastructure to the internet. When we mix this world of internet-connected devices (Internet of Things) to the digital twins of our assets, we expose ourselves to threats.
There is as much opportunity for prosperity as there is for sabotage in this space and this is one of the driving forces behind SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business acquiring the British Standards Institute’s (BSI) Kitemark for BIM Level 2. We want to be the safest pair of hands for our clients’ data and digital twins.
The benefits of implementing the BSI’s Kitemark goes much further than the cyber security of our projects and our capability to secure our clients digital assets. It also offers construction companies a range of other benefits. These include a simple framework for organisations to structure their approach to digital transformation and the implementation of BIM.
As many large organisations can sympathise, it can be extremely difficult to enact change. The kitemark enables a central focal point to pull the silos of the organisation together.
I personally have been impressed with the impact of the kitemark in our organisation. We have not only successfully coordinated teams in a local geography, we have pulled together BIM teams across the globe and showcased the diversity of our BIM implementation.
Another key benefit is the ability to create a customer-centric approach to implementation. The kitemark requires that organisations survey and measure the satisfaction of their customers. This is a key differentiator as the customer focus enables us to view data management through a different lens, which ultimately empowers project teams to deliver the best quality user experience.
Lastly, the kitemark enables organisations (via a rigorous external audit) to ensure delivery is compliant to the standards and meets the expectation of our customers. It has provided us the confidence that what we do aligns with the standards and continuously improves our methods and procedures of Digital Project Delivery.
Being the first organisation of our kind to achieve the kitemark marks a key milestone in our BIM implementation journey. Atkins has led the way in terms of defining BIM for our sector via the UK government’s BIM Task Group and assisting in setting the platform for the UK BIM Standards globally.
This has seen Dr Anne Kemp lead the transition of the UK BIM standards into International Standards and the creation of the UK BIM Alliance, opening the doors for us to take our BIM expertise international, with a common language and approach.
Atkins’ BIM journey has been far from just an internally focused effort to change a business; it has been ambitious enough to set its sights on changing our industry. But the hard work is still ahead of us.
The next phase is about consistency and growth, creating a sustained improvement in productivity and quality of information management and growth in the definition and development of Digital Twins without exposing our national infrastructure to cyber threats.
Our focus on safety is not exclusively physical, and we have a duty to ensure the digital integrity of our designs, constructions and operations of built assets. I can only hope that other organisations can follow our lead in assuring the security and quality of their management of information and digital twin production.
Included in this kitemark is our BIM consultancy service that has in recent years helped HS2 deliver their BIM strategy, aligning their business needs with direct information requirements to ensure the future operation of the railway.
Director of Digital Construction