BIM adoption reaches a high point, but ...
While Building Information Modelling (BIM) is becoming the norm in building projects, most construction professionals believe that BIM adoption still requires changes in workflow, practices and procedures. At the Ultimate BIM Summit in January, experts will be tackling these and other key BIM issues.
Report from – Tom Harvey
In its survey of over 1000 construction industry professionals for this year’s annual National BIM Report, NBS concluded that, “BIM adoption has reached a high point”, with 60% of those surveyed now using BIM and 95% expecting to within three years.
For the first time, most of respondents described themselves as confident in BIM – 55%, compared to just 35% in 2012. “To change a relatively static industry like construction in such a short period is nothing short of astonishing and is best in class at a global level,” said NBS CEO Richard Waterhouse in his introduction to the Report.
Not surprisingly though, the news is not all good. Most – in fact 90% – of the professionals surveyed said that BIM adoption requires changes in workflow, practices and procedures. For example, they want manufacturers to provide BIM objects – the detailed information that defines a product and its physical characteristics – and well-structured generic objects. They also want standards and specifications placed squarely in the BIM environment via BIM software tools.
These are some of the issues that will be addressed in seminars and debates at The Ultimate BIM Summit in London on 31 January 2018. Among those speaking at the event is Dr Ilka May, Co-Chair of the EU BIM Task Group, whose wide-ranging experience includes leading the development of a strategic BIM road map for Germany and a handbook for public sector clients in Europe. When interviewed by Building4Change recently, Dr May highlighted some of the problems of information provision in the current state of the market.
“A new phase of a project starts with the client requesting the necessary data during the design or construction process,” she explained. “This is known as the Exchange Information Requirements or EIR. The question is, how do clients learn to specify exactly what they need from the market, when they lack the necessary best practice experience, training and standards?
“Without these, the quality of the information in the EIR suffers – in fact you often find very unhelpful material in them. This causes problems further down in the supply chain, because EIR are part of the tender documents and the supplier needs to put a price against them and assess his own risk – a very difficult task if the information in the EIR is poor.
“There are similar problems with other core parts of the methodology, such as BIM execution plans or the processes for sharing data in a secure way – we lack the standards and best practice experience to know what good looks like. BIM is a great concept, but we still observe a massive challenge in building up capacity and capability in the international market.”
The lack of standardisation is one of the many issues that will be discussed by speakers at the BIM Summit, including BRE’s BIM Director, Paul Oakley. “Current BIM software providers use different standards, without offering a complete range of building elements from which the user can draw,” he says, “and are often not compliant with British and ISO Standards”.
Templater tool and DataBook
To address this issue, BRE has created a new Templater tool (using code from asset information management specialists, ActivePlan), to hold data templates that can be applied to any aspect of the built environment. They deliver standardised product information that is readily understandable to users and compatible with CAD or BIM software, or database technologies.
This will remove the confusion and lack of interoperability that has surrounded sharing standardised product information from BIM and associated technologies. The BRE Templater provides core building element definitions (like doors, windows, plaster board, roof tiles, etc) and is freely open to manufacturers wishing to add their product information, and to designers, builders, owners and operators wishing to access this information.
Leading on from the Templater tool, is BRE’s new BIM DataBook. A free-to-list and free-to-use Product Library, it allows registered users to link their BIM objects and associated data to a fixed manufacturers’ data source.
DataBook provides plug-in functions for authoring tools with options to not only link, but also attach data based on project stage and appropriate project roles. This will remove the liability and risk for designers and constructors from using editable BIM Library objects, whilst providing them with the appropriate manufacturer data that they need to respond to the project requirements throughout the project lifecycle.
“The new DataBook will provide a much-needed process to manage information flow during the design and build process, without the complex geometry that exists currently,” says Paul Oakley. This will help make BIM work for everyone, as currently too much manual object changing is required as projects are transferred between manufacturers, architects and contractors.”
Oakley will give a presentation on DataBook, which is currently in beta testing and set to launch in early 2018, at the BIM Summit. The event will also present other initiatives designed to make BIM a more valuable and readily usable tool.
The datacentric approach
Ilka May’s roles include that of CEO of LocLab Consulting, which specialises in BIM consultancy, 3D data modelling and gamification. “Clever data algorithms combined with an extensive global library of digital objects enable a quick-and-cheap-but-not-dirty way for producing ‘digital twins’ of the built or planned environment,” says Dr May. “Gamification applies technologies, such as Virtual Reality, used in computer games to make tedious tasks more engaging, and to simplify complex processes to enable users to perform them without extensive training.
“We are now bringing these technologies into the BIM world, for example, by producing a data model and then using that data to create visualisations of the project for stakeholder engagement and decision making - and then also as a basis for design and other purposes.
“Previously, the visualisation model has been something of a dead end. Having used the data to create it – perhaps as an attractive video of how the project will look – there has normally been no way of to re-using that data for other purposes. That is what we are changing – we gather data and then export it from our central data hub, either as a visualisation model or as a CAD model that can be edited for design and used in analysis. We call this the datacentric approach – it is totally software independent as we just use algorithms in our own tool chain, not a particular piece of software.”
Ilka May and Paul Oakley are among a wide range of prominent speakers leading seminars in two topic streams at the BIM Summit. One will focus on providing the knowledge and tools needed to help businesses adjust their business strategies to existing and emerging policy. The other will get attendees up to speed with latest standards, methods and procedures to improve operational effectiveness.