BIM Progress – Is It the Future or Not???

It’s hardly news-worthy to say that the construction industry has been reserved in adapting to change, digital technologies and the digital era. However, I believe that BIM is and can be the catalyst in bringing the construction industry up to date.

Only 6 years ago, something like 13% of UK construction based projects used BIM, now surprisingly statistically an impressive 54% of UK projects are designed and executed using BIM, and continually increasing.

Admittedly these tend to be some of the largest Government led projects but this innovation has started a global trend. Personally, it makes me proud to know that other countries are piggy-backing on the UK’s early recognition of BIM’s potential, but are we being left behind???

More often than not, when referring to BIM the focus has been on the design team –  architects, engineers and M & E designers and clash detection.

However, the benefits BIM has for contractors, surveyors and project managers are often overlooked. I am in no doubt that BIM offers us enormous potential to eliminate waste, reduce cost and to accelerate build times together with numerous other benefits during the build stage of the construction process.

Working with Xella GmbH, one of our key manufacturing partners, using their Silka Element system has given us a great insight into the potential for BIM. We are now able to model the project at pre-construction phase to rationalise the build, eliminating clash detection and waste, and even design in and allow for all M & E containment routes eliminating the need for the expense and programme time for diamond drilling etc.

Without question BIM serves for collaboration and for information co-ordination. BIM brings together designers, engineers, contractors, and specialists to make the process from inception through to construction a much smoother progression. BIM can also highlight the risks involved with constructing a building early on, and if adopted early enough eliminate unwanted costs and delays along the way.

The transition of BIM into the construction industry is far from complete, in fact many would have said that the implementation has stalled.  It is fair to say that whilst we can quote that 54% of the industry is using BIM, 46% are not!!! The skills and learning that BIM constantly requires causes speculation about using it, and makes it hard to keep up-to-date. The focus and energy involved in educating people on BIM has been somewhat lost. Yet in every industry, skill requirements are evolving in order to keep up to date with the latest technologies, so what makes the construction industry any different?

Ignorance and laziness aren’t an option for us if we want to compete at the top level, as you can be sure that the top contractors will be using BIM.

More traditional disciplines are fading as we move towards a more 4D and 5D analysis. The future of construction is slowly evolving with the use of drones, robots, virtual reality and connected data.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to really embrace BIM, think of the bigger picture and how it can help your business grow in the long term. I am a firm believer that BIM is the future and is here to stay as we move towards a digitally built Britain, so it really is a case of keep up to date or get left behind. Who’s with me???

By Simon France, Design and Technical Manager – Masonry Frame Systems