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BIM blocked by clients, according to NCE survey

Clients are undermining efforts to widen the use of building information modelling (BIM) by failing to explain their requirement to their supply chains, according to an NCE survey.

The snap survey of 268 engineers showed that 22% think that a lack of information from clients is the biggest challenge when it comes to applying BIM processes to infrastructure projects.

The poll was carried out during a live webinar last week in which solutions and services provider Excitech set out to guide delegates through the challenges of BIM and offer real life examples of how they have been overcome.

Excitech principal consultant Dave Bosworth said it was unsurprising that a lack of information was the top issue.

“There are few standards and examples,” he said, adding that this is exacerbated by clients themselves being unclear on what they want at tender stage.

“We often don’t know from the employer what the employer’s information requirements are going to be,” he explained.

“Often the recipient of our BIM model doesn’t really know what he wants yet. And often we don’t know how the data will be delivered and in what format.”

“We simply don’t know in advance what we need to achieve and how we are going to get there.”

Lack of knowledge about BIM was the second biggest challenge, with 20% saying this was a major issue.

Confusion about the myriad software tools available was the third biggest area of concern, with 19% of those polled saying this was a problem.

The NCE poll of 268 engineers highlighted these key problems associated with adopting building information modelling
■ Myriad/immature software tools 18.66%
■ Lack of definition 21.64%
■ Overlap with GIS 2.61%
■ Data delivery formats 8.21%
■ Not all infrastructure is an object 5.6%
■ Knowledge 19.78%
■ Budget 7.09%
■ Senior management commitment 8.21%
■ Staff ability to change 5.6%
■ Supply chain abilities 2.61%

A second poll, also carried out during the webinar, revealed the extent of problems public sector clients face complying with the government’s mandate that all publicly-procured projects have a fully collaborative 3D BIM model as a minimum by 2016.

“Fully collaborative” means that all project and asset information, documentation and data is electronic and contained within a project’s 3D BIM model.

Yet the poll revealed that few engineers were up to speed, with fewer than 10% saying they were using BIM processes on “lots of projects”.

In contrast, a hefty 43% have not even begun introducing BIM into work practice while 24% are beginning to introduce it now.

Taken together, it means more than two thirds - or 67% - of engineers polled had no practical experience of using BIM.

Bosworth said this also was “probably not a surprise”. But he said that pressure from the government and from contractors who increasingly see the value of BIM for improving efficiency will act as “strong drivers” for engineers undecided on the merits of BIM to boost their awareness.

■ The webinar is free to view on NCE’s BIM hub. All slides can be downloaded via the same link.

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