Stimulating BIM take-up by specialist contractors

Promoting the adoption of BIM by specialist contractors — David Frise.

The Cabinet Office has endorsed practical guidance on the use of building information modelling (BIM) developed jointly by the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group and the National Specialist Contractor’s Council, in collaboration with the University of Northumbria’s BIM Academy. The guide is published as ‘First steps to BIM competence: a guide for specialist contractors’. It can be downloaded free from the links below.

David Frise, chairman of the working group and head of sustainability at the Building & Engineering Services Association, explained, ‘We have reached the stage in the adoption of BIM where the specialist contracting sector has a key role to play in system design and integration.

‘Both public-sector procurers and private-sector clients are increasingly demanding that BIM be used on their construction projects, in order to achieve efficiency savings through the elimination of waste.’

However, he warns that BIM is simply a tool and would become a somewhat blunted tool unless other issues are addressed.

He explains, ‘The tangible benefits associated with BIM — especially those that reduce design risk and facilitate faster delivery — can only by fully realised when procurement and contractual mindsets change and the construction supply chain learns to work collaboratively, with all members of the design team ensuring the integrity and reliability of the BIM models from the outset.’

David Frise also emphasises that in addition to its application to specific construction projects, the use of BIM by contractors could also lead to increased efficiency and savings within their own firms.

In a foreword to the guide, David Philp, head of implementation at the Cabinet Office, acknowledges that BIM is ‘significantly altering the way in which the construction industry creates and cares for its assets’.

His view is that constructing buildings ‘virtually’ enables organisations to identify and resolve problems before they occur. He adds that the benefits of BIM are not ‘anchored to a particular project size’ and that small and medium-sized firms are ‘well placed to implement BIM’.

BSI has published a standard (PAS 1192-2) which is designed to eliminate the problems caused by firms using different BIM systems and software. Compliance with the standard will be mandatory on all public-sector projects from 2016.

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