BIM Significance to the Construction Industry

The significance of BIM in UK is rising and more people start to adapt this process in the construction industry.

What is BIM?

The UK construction industry has certainly undergone a sustained phase of rapid transformation. Project managers working on management or construction of infrastructures and buildings are liable to substantial changes in both processes and technology in the years ahead.

The transformation is being propelled by the launch of BIM (Building Information Modelling or Building Information Model). It essentially defines the process of designing a building collectively, using one comprehensible system of computer models rather than reams and reams of different sets of drawings.

BIM offers enormous improvements when it comes to saving costs and time, accuracy in estimation, rework, alterations and the avoidance of error due to the loss of information. However, implementing BIM into future building and engineering projects will involve a lot more than just changing the software currently being used. To benefit from everything BIM offers, everyone in the engineering, architecture and construction industries will need to understand how to work in profoundly new ways. BIM is a whole different ball game.

UK Government stated that by 2016, all publically secured Government construction projects should be accomplished using BIM process.

BIM The Government has set targets including:

  • Saving Costs – 33%
  • Programme Saving – 50%
  • Reduction of Greenhouse Gases – 50%

BIM will use 3D modelling for projects of all sizes across all phases in the development of any build. BIM is already progressively being used to design, build and control facilities. BIM will impact across several areas, with application across all forms of building, infrastructure and progressively in the industry and utility sectors as well.

BIM isn’t just about technology; it is much more than that. Essentially a “collaborative process” is essential to BIM and has been set out in British Standards such as BS1192:2007 and PAS1192-2. Themes like information management, knowledge sharing, and collaboration in project environments have been explored in great detail. As BIM is rolled out into the UK, these topics, which have concerned project managers from the start, have turned out to be ever more significant.

The Government will look at how BIM changes the way in which knowledge and information is managed and shared and by both clients and project managers.

BIM offers a lot of clear benefits, although to some they are not instantly recognisable or apparent.

Defining what BIM means to the construction and engineering industry is however much easier said than done. It has been agreed that BIM is in effect a marriage of technology and current work processes.

BIM – A Sociotechnical and multi-layered system

Essentially a sociotechnical system is a mix of man-made technology along with the social consequences of its implementation. BIM could be described as an “entity” which consists of many interacting parts, some physical, some not – hence it is known as “system”. BIM is ‘sociotechnical’ because it has social “mechanisms” working alongside the technical “core” like the leaves on a tree.

At the centre of BIM is the software that enables information management and 3D modelling. Extensive and continued use of the software will gradually lead to a more general understanding of the technical core of BIM.

After technology come the work practices. It is obvious that once you move away from the software side of the system, there is a lot more to BIM than initially meets the eye. This becomes more transparent as the technical core starts to shape social practices by increasing the possibilities available. Initially, this will mean more collaboration between the separate disciplines involved. Eventually, however, this will lead to the creation of a whole new cultural and institutional environment within the construction and engineering industries.

BIM will be the very first digital construction technology that will be rolled out globally. BIM has been tagged as a ‘game changer’ and it seems like it is here for a while. As with all innovation, however, this will present both opportunities and risks alike. The programme launched in the UK that has been based on the BIM Strategy is currently the most advanced and ambitious in the world.

Why is BIM important?

Last year marked an important year for the construction industry in the UK. A high number of high profile BIM press articles, workshops and seminars led up to the Construction Strategy launch in May of which BIM was a central part.

An awakening was triggered when it was seen that the government was serious about developing or rather enveloping a course to change how public assets are designed, built and operated.

Conditions and time are as fertile as ever for change and essentially, managing a construction project using a BIM can result in significant savings in both money and time.

The BIM model saves waste and time on site, and has made additional coordination checks a thing of the past; due to information no longer being inaccurate and uncoordinated there have been fewer mistakes on site. When all associates of a team within the construction industry work from the same model, from the stage of design right through to the completion, changes are coordinated automatically through the BIM system across the whole project, and therefore the generated information is much more accurate and of a higher quality.

BIM has already proven to have:

  • Increased predictability and understanding; which in turn creates a greater certainty and reduces any risks
  • Improve efficiency
  • Improved coordination and integration; few problems on site
  • Lessened waste
  • Increased quality and value

Construction Industry is one of the worlds’ most wasteful; it consumes raw materials, global resources and global energy supplies; it creates huge amounts of global solid waste and is also responsible for half of the emissions from greenhouse gas. Saying this though, it is still worth billions upon billions of pounds per annum.

BIM in the UK

The implementation of Building Information Model in the United Kingdom is not mandatory, yet. However, the Government is planning for all publically funded building works starting after 2015 to be carried out via a building information model; it is expected that the Government will set a precedence and once the BIM System is in use by them the rest of the construction and engineering industry will soon follow suit

BIM is not a cure-all for all the world’s illnesses, but it does have a lot of key characteristics that will make everyone in the construction industry behave and think in totally different ways.

The Government expressed their position in the Construction Strategy and the BIM Strategy. They demand a “fully collaborative BIM as a minimum by 2016” with a need for industry reform and efficiency to fulfil a reduction of costs to the tune of 20% during the current Parliament term.

So much has been studied and written about BIM already, but this project is entering a completely new territory, something never seen before by the construction industry. Whilst BIM will improve the design and build process immensely, the real improvement will lie with a client’s ability to not only improve upon his own in-house processes because of the new reliable data being readily available, but with the ability to be able to pass this data to and from the client’s current portfolio and operational management systems.

The renewed emphasis on clear client requirements has allowed plans and contracts to become far more specific than before, letting the supply chain to collaborate and innovate in the delivery of dedicated information that is essential to both operational and regulatory requirements.

It is said that after the start of implementing BIM system in all the projects the construction industry will never be the same again.

What Training is Needed for BIM?

Everyone involved with BIM whether it be project managers, architects or other construction professionals will need training on the BIM System as they would on any new software.

Full training will be required on AutoCAD, Autodesk, Revit as well as Navisworks

BIM will be the future of the building and design industry and will be a skill that is deemed essential for any professional wanting to advance their chosen career.

Click to find out more about BIM Training Courses.

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