Working in a BIM Environment in 2018

Cranes in the Snow - © Shirley Radford 2018Despite the snowy weather last week we visited RIBA to attend an event they were running in regard to using BIM in 2018. As we all know the government has stated their requirements for BIM level2 on public sector projects but the expectation is that we will all start using BIM to design and deliver projects that will, eventually, save the market billions of pounds by providing better, safer designs. A tall order? We think not.

The discussions on the day highlighted that BIM modelling was a great collaboration tool that facilitated better client buy-in and, most importantly, facilitated safer designs. Interestingly it is not yet the 'norm' but perhaps should be as we need to evolve our way of working. We need to have more champions of BIM as it facilitates a better way of working and quality designs. Scandinavia have been using BIM as a creative and collaborative approach to Building Modelling and have been very successful in doing so. From an architects point of view the BIM model is very rich, highlighting gaps in the design and allowing the re-use of libraries of information, including manufacturing and product information, which saves time in the long run.

BIM modelling also allows a client a better perspective on 'how' they will be using the space and the feedback aids in better design and therefore a better end product for Engineers, Architects and Designers alike. BIM allows you to grow your own repository of design information, for example, wheelchair access requirements, which can be stored and reused in various other projects / building designs. Additionally complex geometry requires 3D technical functionality to show all design issues and special requirements which are fundamental in design.   On top of this BIM supports design coordination when multiple disciplines are involved in the overall design with Management Information standards that everyone understands.

On the day the panellists all agreed that BIM should not be considered more expensive as savings will be made in the longer term, the aim being that you can deliver a project on time and within budget. Other benefits include the highlighting of structural risks involved in a design, something that all parties need to be made aware of. With BIM modelling you will also know exactly what products are needed due to the detail in the model and you will know when you need to order materials and when they need to be delivered on site. Another benefit of this approach for your next projects are lessons learned from the feedback you obtain and the data you store.  A question was raised in regard to 'who owns the data'. The panel agreed that the information management is the role of the Lead Designer and that the ownership of information in a model was the Client.

One issue that was pointed out about the repository of product and manufacturing information is that, obviously, it will change over time and it's going to be difficult to keep update.  Work needs to be done on getting regular updates from supply chain manufacturers but how this will be managed was not discussed. That said, when defining your cost of supplies you will be more accurate with BIM Modelling and therefore the chances are your project will be on budget.

BIM Modelling seems to be the way forward for our future design process and final advice from the panel included keeping it simple if you are asked to do it by your client and that it's probably better to do it anyway for your own benefit as there are efficiencies to be made. One of the main benefits is time – then you should use that time to make each design project better.  BIM should be seen as an enabler and it was generally agreed by the panel that digital systems will help us evolve our processes and improve end product and delivery.

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