Whether you’re a BIM evangelist or more cynical about the benefits digital construction can bring, a new eBook seeks to promote practical understanding of what remains a complex area where communication between individuals and different countries could prove key to success.
This month, the German Government’s Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Alexander Dobrindt, announced BIM will be mandatory for all the country’s transportation projects by the end of 2020. Almost simultaneously, the UK learned that the planned completion date for the country’s £50 billion High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project may have hit the sidings.
"National Audit Office (NAO) found 37 of 106 Government projects due for completion over the next five years to be at risk of failing to meet targets in both time and cost."
The UK Government’s BIM Task Force were dealt a blow when a New Year report from the National Audit Office (NAO) branded over a third of UK public infrastructure projects ‘in doubt’ or ‘undeliverable’. Blaming a history of ‘unrealistic expectations and over-optimism’, the NAO found 37 of 106 Government projects due for completion over the next five years to be at risk of failing to meet targets in both time and cost.
It’s not known which of the 149 developments in the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio have been issued either red or amber warnings but speculation is rife that the controversial HS2 development is unlikely to stay on track with its ambitious targets.
Meanwhile, in updating Germany’s BIM mandate, Dobrindt advocated a cautious yet proactive approach. Until 2017, Germany will engage in a preparation period where it identifies pilot projects and ensures education and training is carried out. It will also take the time to clarify legal issues and to develop guidelines for BIM in planning, building and operation.
“We want to make BIM standard nationwide,” said Dobrindt. “The public sector must lead the way as a great builder and drive this cultural change. We have launched four pilot projects to test BIM and developed a phased plan for the future,” he added. “We want to be a pioneer but catching up with other countries around the world is also necessary”.
Whether or not it’s a victim of a more recklessly optimistic inclination, HS2 was always intended to be a showcase for BIM 2 maturity throughout the supply chain. With the UK’s mandatory April 2016 BIM deadline fast approaching, a delay to HS2 would signify a hugely disappointing uncoupling from government objectives.
Although a full BIM derailment is unlikely, any shortcomings would surely signal a need for change in the way different industry stakeholders approach sharing information and knowledge. As things stand, among many, there is a growing perception of a widening gap between those who ‘do BIM’ and those who – as yet - don’t.
"A survey by NBS last year revealed that two thirds (67%) of respondents believed that ‘the industry is not clear enough on what BIM is yet’."
While enthusiastic Architects and Quantity Surveyors have been quick to acknowledge and embrace the philosophical benefits of BIM adoption, there remain a large number of professionals, often working further down the supply chain, who are yet to fully see or experience the practical merits of adapting to a new way of working and thinking.
Although BIM evangelists naturally want to address this and are keen to share the many positives of BIM adoption, their target audience, particularly within the MEP sector, increasingly want to see empirical evidence of time and cost savings before investing in technology and training.
It is perhaps ironic that a process and philosophy rooted in advanced concurrent working and collaboration should prove such a difficult and contrary concept to describe and discuss. However, the fact remains that, across Europe, BIM adoption has not been as rapid or far-reaching as hoped.
In stark contrast to the ‘over-optimism’ cited by the NAO, a UK-wide BIM survey, conducted by the NBS last year revealed that two thirds (67%) of respondents believed that ‘the industry is not clear enough on what BIM is yet’. Although the vast majority of those who have already adopted BIM have seen considerable gain across the board, including time, efficiency and cost, three quarters of total respondents could not agree with the statement: ‘I trust what I am told about BIM’.
In Germany, where pragmatism and caution have helped sculpt the Government’s BIM mandate, cynicism among a significant proportion of stakeholders is just as high. As Tobias Schmidt, director of BPS Technology and BIM project coordinator in the German region, says: "If investors from abroad talk to German architects and engineers, they are told that BIM is not a work standard between project parties and that BIM is expensive or at least not compliant with established local processes. Some Germany-based architects or engineers understand that BIM is about much more than a virtual model but that essential fact is often forgotten or ignored.”
What such commonality of opinion, despite such differing government approaches, does make clear is that there is a global requirement for more clear, practical and unbiased information and discussion about what is set to define AEC working practices in the very near future. Furthermore, it also demonstrates how sharing knowledge and experience internationally could also prove instrumental in shaping opinion and overcoming objections.
In bringing together the views, tips and insights of a wide-range of commentators from a number of different countries, each with professional experience of BIM implementation, Trimble hopes to offer the industry a clear, concise and unbiased overview of some of the key issues affecting BIM adoption at all levels of the industry today. It also hopes to play an ongoing role in promoting the role of open discussion and knowledge sharing about what is, undoubtedly, a revolutionary development in the way the AEC functions, thinks and evolves at a time where technology and innovation have combined to create manifold opportunities for everyone involved in the design, development and lifecycle of each and every project.