Monday, 11 July 2011

2011 is the BIM tipping point

Will 2011 be the tipping point for BIM? Image from

Over the past couple of weeks there has been a growing amount of interest, discussion and debate about Building Information Modelling. The momentum was started in October 2010, with comments from Paul Morrell about the Government’s ambition to embrace BIM. The Government’s construction strategy, issued in May, formalised this view. As a company that has been evangelising about BIM for several years, it is nice that some of the views we have had are being embraced by others, views that we have been able to share with the industry, along with our learning, during our conversion to a BIM-centric organisation. There are still negative responses to the approach, however there are now a majority of individuals and organisations who accept that BIM is the future and they will have to adopt and invest moving forward.

What I have noticed over recent months is the pace of adoption. Over the past few weeks I have spent time in London and have met with a number of senior individuals from major constructors and consultancies. Many of these organisations have made rapid progress and are driving it through their companies and making it part of their forward strategies.

I believe that our professional institutions have been very slow to respond to these changes. Organisations such as the RIBA and RICS are still grappling with BIM, and this is a concern as they are seen as our industry’s representatives in the public realm. In order to adequately service us as personal and professional representatives, and highlight our position as an industry, these organisations must change their role very quickly, and embrace a position as representatives of a skill set within the whole life cycle of the design, construct and operate that our industry has.

Jack Pringle, the next present of the RIBA, made a great point in Building Magazine last week when he suggested that the Construction Industry Council was an excellent organisation to be the umbrella for the industry bringing together the complete cycle into a single organisation. The CIC has also had opportunity to influence the Government in a way which the professions have not achieved for many years, and this level of mutual respect and understanding is very important as it provides us with an intelligent, measured and coherent voice, particularly relevant at a time when the industry’s involvement public sector projects, such as BSF, have come under fire.

I am really encouraged that the life cycle of a building is now being understood and appreciated. The days of considering the design and construction of a building separate to its capital cost are starting to diminish. Progressive organisations have acknowledged that getting the requirements right in the first instance influences the process of design and construction is very important, and also has a huge impact on the operation and the revenue costs of a building during its life cycle.

_space group has embraced a ‘Big BIM’ approach with a four stage process that takes in this life cycle ( ), and similar models which adopt similar principles are used in other firms. There is no right or wrong approach to BIM. The important thing is that our industry understands the wider life cycle of a building.

There will still be architects, engineers and constructors who see their role in very narrow terms, rather than embracing this broad spectrum view. However at _space group, our openness to innovation and use of our skills has allowed us to get involved with a whole range of organisations throughout the whole cycle of a project. We are now providing support to sub-contractors, main contractors, other consultants and end users to deliver a more integrated approach which delivers less waste, less cost, less energy and less risk.

As the pace of adoption increases, it is clear that this year will be a BIM tipping point for our industry and those not on board will be tipped out of any meaningful work in the industry.