BIM4Water has moved from a start-up group in 2013 raising awareness of BIM in the water sector to become a leadership group with over 600 members who are taking practical and collaborative steps to implement digital ways of working in this sector. Despite the pandemic, the group has endeavoured to expand its activities and influence across a wide range or organisations

BIM4Water was established as part of the UK Government BIM Task Group initiative to promote BIM across construction. The group’s mission is:

“To lead, drive and support organisations to realise value through the digital transformation of the water sector.”

BIM4Water aims to lead the digital transformation of the water sector through Better Information Management and provides a focus for setting standards, best practice and to consider the cultural impact and the benefits when implementing BIM as a building block for creating digital twins.

As a cross-industry group, it is open to all bodies involved in the management and delivery of water and wastewater assets. The group’s make up is reflective of the sector, collaborating with water companies (20), consultants (26), contractors (18) and the supply chain (68).

BIM4Water is governed by the Steering Group, which has 10 representatives including owner-operators, consultants, contractors and suppliers, and secretariat support from British Water. Initially, with four working groups, BIM4Water has expanded its activities to six Task Groups. These are:

Water Industry Classification & Hierarchy Standards Task Group (WICHS)

(Chaired by David Bell, enterprise data architect, Anglian Water)

Working in collaboration with water companies and NBS, the WICHS group’s aim is to map the Uniclass 2015 classification to the various asset naming conventions currently being used across the water industry.

As many UK water companies currently capture their assets using a multiple-level hierarchy format, a big opportunity for the WICHS is to abstract their existing structures, mapping them to a normalised level within Uniclass, which will support both regulatory objectives, and assist with the enablement of a national digital twin – one of the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) main programmes.

An asset hierarchy is a framework which is used for segmenting an asset base into various different levels – or classes:

Site – Process – Plant Group – Segment – Function

Skills Task Group

(Chaired by Simon Frampton, Blueprint Recruitment Solutions)

The aim of the Skills Task Group is to investigate and prepare the water industry with the necessary digital skillsets and culture to assist and support resources and succession planning throughout AMP 7. The group is also working to raise the profile of careers supporting digital ways of working through the education sector and building links with schools, colleges and universities to promote the different types of digital technology and enable the creation of career paths.

The Standard Libraries Task Group

(Chaired by Richard Stirland, asset data team manager, Anglian Water’s @one Alliance)

The Standard Libraries Group focuses on the standard exchange of digital product data using data templates and an agreed process for the creation of BIM4Water Product Data Templates (PDTs). PDTs are arrangements of property groups and properties that describe the construction and performance of assets. The PDT can be used as a mechanism to exchange data from the manufacturer to the project team and ultimately populate the owner-operator’s asset management systems. The next steps for the group will be to continue the development of PDTs and look at ways of automating the development process.

Group chair Richard Stirland said: “We have a new batch of product data templates in circulation among our group currently, undertaking our review process, before release on the BIM4Water webpage. Our aim is to develop a PDT for every product in the water industry, and it’s key that we drive this forward with energy.

“As for many people, it has been a challenging time for the SLG in the current climate. We had agreed an engagement event to take place at the Water Equipment Show (WES) 2020, focusing on product data and WIMES, which had to be postponed. This event was a key milestone for us to engage with large numbers of manufacturers and supply chain representatives, as part of our work in driving adoption of PDTs as a standard within the water industry.

“But for every challenge, there are opportunities and positives we can take away. With meetings in person not a possibility, there are ways to engage virtually and options to explore around shorter, but more frequent, interactions. The WES has been rescheduled for 2021 and the additional time enables more preparation to target our audience over the next few months.”

The Owner-Operators Task Group

(Chaired by Marcus Chambers, digital process lead, Skanska)

The group aims to enable owner-operators to maximise value through digital transformation and Better Information Management. The group has published guidelines on the adoption of BIM and is currently working on the maturity of BIM across the sector using the “digital hierarchy of needs”. The group also publishes case studies that demonstrate the benefits of BIM and the lessons learned.

Water Data Task Force

(Chaired by Max Gamrat, senior data engineer and programme manager, Affinity Water).

The key role of this group is to aid the strategic development of open and secure data across the water industry and to support the vision for a national digital twin. To date, the group has formed a core group of key members including water companies, regulator, government and specialist partners, supporting strategic plans for data sharing and digital twinning. In addition, the group is working with the Digital Twin Hub (managed by CDBB) and the Geospatial Commission.

The 4D Task Group

(Chaired by Clare Kovacs, national rehearsal lead, MWH Treatment).

The 4D Group is working on the best practice of using 4D (sequencing of construction), which includes the digital toolkit, contractual arrangements and highlighting the benefits such as health & safety, time and financial savings. Current published guidelines include 4D benefits and the digital rehearsal, where 4D is applicable during the project lifecycle and supported within Employer Information Requirements.

Group chair Clare Kovacs said: “The current climate has driven the adoption of digital rehearsal and visualisation as a clear communication tool; as more and more teams remain working remotely its more important than ever to empower individuals with clear information, enabling them to make safe and educated decisions.

“As a group, we have continued to meet virtually and have been working on a 4D supportive EIR; our aim is to start getting 4D and collaborative practices from top-down, as we see the benefits throughout.

“In addition, we have been defining the best practices for work breakdown structure and how best to integrate our supply chains models.”


Growing collaboration

BIM4Water has also used the changes to “business as usual” to reflect on its own organisation and on how it collaborates with others. During the last few months, BIM4Water has made partnership agreements enabling closer working and ideas sharing, and to offer support with organisations such as the UK BIM Alliance, CDBB (Centre for Digital Built Britain), SWAN (Smart Water Networks Forum) and Teeside University. This work will continue at a pace, and any interested groups should contact BIM4Water (see below).

One of the major disappointments of 2020 has been the postponement of the BIM4Water Awards. Last year saw the highly successful launch and BIM4Water had bigger plans for 2020. However, 2021 will see the awards return, early June at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Further news of the awards, and how to enter, will be out later this year.


Jamie Mills




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