Around the world we are seeing construction in a state of transition from analogue to digital. This is reshaping what we think of as traditional construction and rethinking how projects and programmes are delivered and operated. This shift is mainly being enabled through game-changing processes and collaborative technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), which internationally is seeing strong uptake, be it through regulation, industry best practice programmes or by clients seeking to procure digital asset data.
We are seeing supply chains digitising their processes, irrespective of client pull, as they seek more rapid innovation cycles and better efficiency. Many are also seeing BIM as a way of de-risking with the ability to virtualise programme and cost in a digital environment where scenarios can be simulated and tested.
On 4th April 2016, one of the key ambitions of the UK Government Construction Strategy will be realised with Level 2 BIM being required on all centrally procured government projects. This essentially means that Level 2 BIM will be embedded in the procurement process with the inclusion of Employers Information Requirements in tender documentation. By this date the British Standard for Level 2 will also be complete and BSI will have launched a new static website as the home of these documents (level2bim.org)
These standards will ensure that there is consistency of approach for information management and data exchange across the project lifecycle, with the backdrop of a secure environment. The Level 2 standards also include, through BS8536, a soft landing approach to projects and ensure operational considerations and testing are a golden thread throughout the CapEx stages.
In my neck of the woods in Scotland, in response to the Scottish Government Procurement Review, BIM Level 2 has also been targeted with a current 400-day landing plan. Whilst this strategy aims to achieve Level 2 across the public sector it also ensures that there is appropriateness in terms of BIM maturity. Underpinning this consideration has been the creation of an online grading tool and return on investment calculator to help determine appropriate direction for the procurer. There is a published BIM Implementation Plan, BIM Working Group and pilot projects are now commencing.
Europe has also begun alignment on BIM with the EU BIM Task Group launched in Brussels on the 29th February (www.eubim.eu) The vision of this group is to foster a world-class, digital, open, competitive European public works and construction sector, optimise the full lifecycle of public works and improve the efficiency, effectiveness and value for public money.
So what does all this mean for the industry? At the heart of it is digital working, but what should not be played down is the focus on information management, the ability to meaningfully interpret data and, perhaps most importantly, the need for and value of purposeful collaboration.
This is my focus on the CIOB’s Policy Board, ensuring that industry is equipped with the skills necessary to take forward the challenge. The CIOB, through its BIM+ portal (www.bimplus.co.uk) and training courses are playing their part too.
The 4th April BIM level 2 deadline should not be seen merely as a regulatory challenge to overcome – instead it presents an enormous and unmissable opportunity to tackle head-on the technological and cultural changes generated by the digital revolution.