Knowledge transformation for BIM implementation


At The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) 5th BIM conference, Nathan Baker, Director of Engineering Knowledge for ICE set out how we can transform our industry by transforming our knowledge…

Following on from the announcement from Terry Stocks, Level 2 BIM Delivery Director at BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills) regarding the UK Government’s Building Information Modelling mandate targets for 2016, Nathan Baker acknowledged that the gauntlet has very firmly been passed onto industry to implement BIM.

In brief, April 4th 2016 is the first day that centrally procured public sector projects will require the implementation of BIM Level 2. In addition to this target, centrally funded government departments will be required to provide “clear and complete” EIRs with all contracts. Another date was also confirmed – October 3rd, 2016 will mark each government department’s capability to “electronically validate BIM information delivered from the supply chain”. Baker told the audience that:

“The ICE and a number of other institutions have been working together to work out how we can help. In essence, it is down to our members and it is down to industry to understand what it wants to do on this journey to deliver the effect we require.

“Terry Stocks has eluded to the potential export of BIM knowledge – we are the best in the world at this and it is really interesting that other countries look at us as the leader in this knowledge space.”

So what does it mean? Baker explained:

“This is our industry, it’s exceptionally diverse – we don’t all wear hard hats anymore. We focus on what the design is, and we focus on the impact our infrastructure has today and tomorrow in terms of its construction, operation, maintenance and its de-commissioning. This will help us to drive an agenda, but what will be achieved if we don’t take responsibility for it?

“It is very clear to me (from the statement that Terry has just made) that government are saying it is our responsibility – they will provide the support but it’s quite clear that they are now taking a step back. Don’t keep expecting us to push or pull you along as we need you to do it – for the industry, for your own benefit and also for societal benefit. We know the ICE have responsibilities to help industry do that. We are good at facilitating big knowledge networks.”

Accepting that it is down to industry to push and pull BIM in the right direction is all well and good, but how will this happen? Baker outlined what transformation really means:

“BIM is part of the transformation, but it is not the whole thing. This industry transformation requires us to get the right people in the right places, with the right skills in the right network, and it’s the network that matters. Why? Because then we get people to the right level to deliver the effect we require. We’ve done a lot already. Look at the amount of impact that the ICE and other institutions are having in delivering what is needed. We still have a long way to go – in particular we have to get a real understanding of the effect of the different types of engagement, looking at the broader collaboration techniques and contracting mechanisms. All of these things start to play into transforming our industry.”

Looking further into the future, Baker asked questions about how industry will adapt, in particular around offsite construction:

“DFMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly), offsite manufacture and offsite construction are not particularly news ways of working, but ways of working we have not adopted effectively. How are we going to interact with these, and how will we use them to best effect? How will we take into account the social environment that we live in? The environmental impact we will have over the next 20 years is such that we will have to change what we do. We are on this journey, we have to achieve the 2025 targets and we have to turn it from a bit of paper into reality.”

“Peter Hansford leaves the post of Construction Advisor in the immediate future, and he is really clear when he talks to people that this legacy is not to be a piece of paper shoved in a drawer. We have to make it happen and we can make it happen through the policy and processes that have been devised through the whole BIM process so far. We can make it happen by taking BIM to Level 3, 4, 5 and beyond, but most importantly it is down to us as companies, individuals, and as institutions to make sure our staff understand the requirements, and that we give them the right skills at the right time and linking them together with the right people to deliver the effect required.” ■

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