Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Background to the Construction Industry
The Economist on August 19, 2017, (at pages 8 and 9) discussed the notoriously low productivity in the construction industry, and reported that the construction industry profit margins were the lowest of any industry except for retailing. It said that the building trade was worth $10 trillion each year or 13% of world output. The Economist (p8) stated that the highly cyclical nature of the industry meant that firms did not invest in capital, because this raised its fixed costs, and rendered a firm vulnerable in a downturn. It was better to employ workers, and then in a downturn cut the workforce.
These statistics are alarming, but it appears as if no one has the energy or political will to change the status quo. The construction industry remains in a state of inertia.
Newton’s First Law of Motion, which is also called the Law of Inertia, provides that an object remains in a state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an outside force. One possible outside force is government insisting upon businesses implementing measures to improve efficiencies on their projects, and BIM is reputed to do so.
BIM and Government
Whilst there are a wide variety of definitions of BIM, dependent upon a participant’s point of view, from the readings conducted by the author and his assimilation of the factors, it may usefully be described as:
A management process utilising digital models that facilitate cooperation between project participants from a client’s initial concepts, through detailed design, and then construction to hand-over within a common data environment.
BIM has progressively emerged in the construction industry worldwide. Some countries have embraced BIM wholeheartedly, and others are lagging. For example, since 2016, the United Kingdom requires that level 2 BIM be implemented for all projects involving public money, and France and Singapore also require the use of BIM.
Australia is somewhere in between, and currently the major driver of BIM, apart from a few exceptions, is the marketplace. Our defence industry contracts now require the use of BIM, and this is a significant shift in government thinking.
A bit more on BIM
The level 2 BIM referred to earlier as required in the United Kingdom requires that each participant within a construction project must ensure that whatever digital models they may utilise in carrying out their activity within a project life cycle, they must ensure that their model can export data to the common data environment, sometimes called a federated BIM model, which can then be read by other models used by other participants. This allows each participant freedom to utilise their own model, but these models must be able to translate into common file formats such as IFC’s or COBie, so that others may be able to make use of the data.
Interestingly, in Australia, the construction industry participants who appeared to be the most advanced in the use of BIM are the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Contractors (“MEP”).
Chris’ paper and presentation at Society of Construction Law Australia (SOCLA) August 2018
Here is the the link to the paper Chris presented last year.
There is no doubt that BIM is part of the future and contractors, clients and subcontractors must climb on board that the BIM train. The author has completed a certification course in BIM management and would be delighted to assist you. Please call (07) 3220 0299.