Sunday, 20 July 2014
Sunday, 13 July 2014
The term BIM or Building Information Modelling has been in "general circulation" since around 2006/7. The term has done wonders for moving the construction industry towards a digital revolution. We have benefitted from improving hardware and software and emerging generations who don't see technology as an add on but a necessity.
Whilst the term BIM was not first used by Autodesk they invested in the term and promoted it as it very effectively communicated what they were trying to achieve with technology. Clearly with a better understanding of the value of their software and its value sales would increase.
From someone who has spent a career fighting against many of the things considered acceptable in the construction industry BIM and all of the associated software was music to my ears. We bought our first copy of Revit parametric software back in 2000. This was even before Autodesk had bought the company.
The marketing of the term BIM pushed everything up a level with the final vindication being in May 2011 when the then Government Chief Construction Advisor Paul Morrell mandated that a 3D coordination and data or BIM should be included in government projects by 2016.
Coupled with the mandate the government invested in the BIM Task Group who helped to define the specific requirements and what level 2 actually means.
Within the public sector it is still work in progress however huge strides have been made within early adopter departments such as the Ministry of Justice.
The private sector has identified the value itself and has embraced new technologies and processes largely off the back of the good work carried out by government.
However now the term BIM is far too generic and can cause confusion. It is so commonly used now that it can lose impact. This is similar to the term Partnering which was adopted in the late 90s. Many people used the term but how many people truly understood it and worked in this way.
We have all heard people and organisations say yes we do BIM or can you do BIM. The term is now working against the vision and objective and we must be far more specific and less generic.
What BIM actually was, was the catalyst for change across the construction sector. We are now in the middle of a revolution to Digitise the Construction Industry. We have to be more specific about what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve.
For example we will author models or federate them. We may extract data which can be used in the operation of the building. We may use the federated model to extract quantities or link elements to the programme. All of this could be referred to as "BIM" if we adopt the term how it is currently used. We often end up with lots of debate about what is BIM and what isn't or is this level 2 or level three.
Who cares? This is all theory. We are digitising the Construction industry so we can improve our product, process and perceptions. We must deliver better value to our clients and demonstrate we understand their business and their issues and that we are able to respond intelligently and positively.
Friday, 4 July 2014
Sunday, 1 June 2014
There is a significant flaw in the BIM Show Live community however and that of the UKBIMCrew on twitter.
If you decide to pay money and give up time to go to an event such as BIM Show Live you are obviously committed to a different way of approaching things. This community has grown from around 100 to 700 paying delegates in three years. The flaw is that this is only one side if the argument. For those of us who attend we only see the positive aspects of change. We miss the issues or challenges because we believe so passionately in the fact what we are doing is right.
Im not changing my view in relation to BIM and I passionately believe the industry will benefit hugely in the future. However we do operate in the real world and 700 delegates at BSL it is only a tiny fraction of the industry.
The BIM technologies team are working on many live projects across the UK across a range of sectors with different clients, consultants and contractors.
The technology is straightforward, our issues are always with standards and consistency across a design team. Design businesses are used to having control of their own standards for their own purposes. Every consultant will have their own approach and expectations. When an Information Manager is appointed they are unhappy about using a project standard which differs from their own.
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
I believe the problem lies in the way the industry is organised and the way that its top managers think. The industry is divided into professions whose members are
Meanwhile, the contractors carry on with main contracting looking to make their profit targets by squeezing their supply chains and extending their payment terms by another 30 days. They spend almost nothing on research and development, and it seems that whenever something goes wrong, their only response it to throw another chief executive to the shareholders. The result of this are businesses like Balfour that are great when they’re riding a wave of public sector investment, but struggle when the bad times come.
Set up to fail
I should say here that I’m not blaming anybody. The fact is that the system is set up in such a way that people are encouraged to behave in a selfish way. True collaboration springs from a shared goal, and in construction we tend not to have that. If I’m the architect, my goal is to get my drawing out as quickly as possible and get my fee; I’m not really bothered about helping out the M&E guy because I just want to get my bit done. If I’m a contractor, my goal is to get the building up as quick as possible, while reducing the risk and making as large a margin as I can. And if I’m a subcontractor, all I care about is getting the next job and try not to take too many beatings from the main contractor. A subcontractor has no interest in a common goal; they just want to get through the process and get their last payment.
So, how to you break the cycle of boom and bust? How do you change attitudes and organisations in an industry renowned for sticking to what it knows, even though it also knows it doesn’t work? I believe the answer is to think in a completely different way. I believe we have to start with the product and then work out the process that will best deliver it. In an industry that is driven by costs, it means focusing on value.
The good news is that there are powerful drivers for change in the industry. The government has played its part with its plans to use regulatory and economic power.
There are other forces at work as well, though. There is a generational change, and that is bringing a different approach to providing a product. One part of it is technical. When Sir John Egan produced his report in 1998, I was using a Rotring pen to design buildings. He talked about technology, but most of it wasn’t quite there.