Louis Khoury explains why BIM is now mandatory on some UK projects
The UK government is to begin phasing in mandatory application of BIM from this summer, following in the footsteps of Finland, Singapore and Jordan. How will this affect the construction industry in the UK? Both in positive and negative terms
Research carried out at the end of last year by the National Building Specification (NBS) revealed that the number of UK firms using building information modelling (BIM) had more than doubled from the previous year (from 13% to 31%). Of those not yet using BIM, 48% said that they needed to “get through the downturn” before considering BIM. Yet, others felt that, on the contrary, this was just the right time to adopt this way of working.
There are so many carrots to encourage the adoption of BIM, that it may be superfluous to mention the stick. However, the UK government has mandated the use of BIM on all of its projects over £50 million by 2016 and this is bound to have an impact. Already many larger contractors insist that sub-contractors are BIM-enabled. Whether or not there will be a knock-on effect on smaller businesses and projects remains to be seen.
Using BIM can generate a number of benefits, both business and practical, all with different levels of value. One of the most prominent benefits to using BIM is the ability to integrate workflows which can help optimise internal processes and the collaboration with other stakeholders in the project. This enables decisions to be made much earlier in the project, reducing costly errors and allows more options to be included in the work.
Could this have wider ramifications for other geographical construction markets?
Architects, contractors and building owners are growing more informed about BIM and the advantage of utilising data that will help them to understand the project better and enable faster business decisions to be made throughout all stages of the build. While it is impossible to accurately predict how fast AEC in the UK will embrace BIM, the current market trend for efficient, cost–effective design and environmental sustainability is increasingly forcing the hand of remaining sceptics.
As a region that is often cited by BIM professionals as one that doesn’t fully implement construction IT, could these changes mean the Middle East falls behind in terms of construction technology and work place skills?
The good news is that many BIM tools are becoming more intuitive and easy to use (and accessible through the cloud), so the learning curve for BIM tools isn’t very steep. As we continue to see adoption of BIM in the region, and as projects become more global with teams spread across multiple countries, it will become even more important for architects, designers, contractors and engineers to become proficient in BIM tools. Professionals in design, architecture and engineering should consider starting with the free services offered through Autodesk 360. Autodesk 360 Documents, Autodesk 360 Mobile and AutoCAD WS are free tools that will enable easy collaboration, sharing, viewing and editing of files in real-time.
What needs to be done for the industry to enhance its understanding and use of BIM in the Middle East?
One of the most important things to be done is reaching out to the consultant community and to build a successful relationship for the benefit of consultants, their customers and their businesses by discussing the benefits of BIM.
This can be done through providing BIM training services to the Middle East CAD industry professionals following an increase in demand for the software in the world. New BIM-based training courses will give architects, consultants and design based companies the insight for creating and managing building and infrastructure projects faster, more economically, and with less environmental impact. Autodesk BIM software includes a comprehensive portfolio of solutions for design, visualization, simulation, and collaboration that uses the rich information in the intelligent model to inform better decision-making and break down the barriers to better business.