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Talking Point with Neville Glanville

Is BIM a business enabler or technology red herring? It’s the former and offers the opportunity to drive value

The government’s decision to require that all suppliers involved in public sector construction projects use Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools and techniques by 2016 is to be applauded. The intention is to drive better value from capital investment and realise a 20% reduction in lifetime costs, while facilitating a more integrated approach to design.

It is also about changing the culture between the client and the rest of the supply chain, replacing traditional, rather adversarial business practices with a collaborative approach.

The key to realising the government’s BIM vision is to create simple, effective cooperation among the design, construction and operations aspects of the infrastructure lifecycle. Overcoming these silos provides a chance to reduce duplication, minimise errors and streamline processes.

However, while the majority of new bids now demand some level of BIM compliance, requirements are often opaque at best.

“BIM, done correctly, is about information sharing enabled by information mobility”

Let’s set the record straight: BIM, done correctly, is about information sharing enabled by information mobility. It provides contractors and owner operators with access to design data that can be used to transform effectiveness throughout the construction and operations processes. It drives better use of 3D across the industry, but 2D data remains important, as does information in documents, spreadsheets, and other databases, which all contribute to a holistic BIM approach.

BIM is ultimately about creating an asset model from day one that can be used consistently throughout the project.

Indeed, BIM also encompasses information management as much as information modelling. It enables a contractor to feed design information into project planning tools and resolve potential conflicts before arriving on site. It also empowers the sharing of space information with facilities management teams before the building goes live, as well as the sharing of other crucial information that can later be used to help drive cost-effective operations decision
making and renovations work.

Leveraging a collaborative platform and technology to share and integrate information, within an incremental approach that accommodates all of the specialised design simulation and analysis software best suited for each project role, will best enable the industry to achieve the desired widespread adoption of BIM.

Government demands for Level 2 compliance by 2016 is pragmatic and achievable and promotes the very real promise of intelligent infrastructure that is better performing.

However, while industry adoption and interest are positive, it is essential that organisations take a step back and truly assess information requirements. BIM must be viewed as a business process rather than a technology.

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