29 Oct 2012

Benefitting from BIM (London event)

Fiona Frost, Director of Communications & Events at the British Council for Offices and NextGen Coordinator writes...

On Friday 26 October over 80 delegates joined the NextGen Committee in London to discuss the benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM). As technology advances in every aspect of life at a rate of knots, we wanted to find out if this tool can really “aid” the design team and consultants or if it is just a fancy piece of technology that will have 15 minutes of fame?

Our panel, chaired by Simon Rawlinson (EC Harris and chairman of the BCO Research Committee), consisted of experts from the modellers (Rob Charlton _space group), consultants (Mark Walker WSP) and clients (James Pellatt Great Portland Estates). They were set to explore:

  • The impact that the adoption of BIM will have on the development and construction industry?
  • How the office sector can reap the benefits?
  • What the future will hold?

Rob Charlton, described by Simon Rawlinson as a chameleon (architect by trade, BIM technologist by profession), is chief executive of _space group. As an organization _space group have been advocates of BIM for over 10 years and have pioneered its use in the UK. In Rob's words the driver behind BIM is that "it's not about the technology, it's all about the output and the flow of data from day one until the end".

Marc Walker, UK BIM Development Manager at WSP, picked up on this thread using case studies of the Bulgari Hotel, London Bridge Place and London Bridge Station Redevelopment. These projects were able to demonstrate the benefits of BIM in a variety of areas from the early resolution of critical issues to running simulations and identifying inactive areas on site, thereby increasing efficiency.

Like Rob, Marc agreed that BIM is not just about the technology & software. WSP consider BIM to be a socio-technological system – a way of working that involves people, processes and tools. Marc emphasised that software can only go as far as highlighting the issues. It will always take knowledge and skills to come up with the right solution.

James Pellatt, Head of Projects at Great Portland Estates, continued to enforce the message that BIM doesn't magically work on its own, it needs creative input from everyone involved in the project. James called for the client to take the lead, after all if you are able to iron out problems at the start then there is great potential for less cost, less time, less risk and most of all less waste.

It does sound a bit like I’ve been employed by the Government (who are mandating BIM level 2 by 2016 for the public sector) to create a piece of BIM propaganda. I haven’t, I promise, but for an industry so keen to reduce waste, save time and money surely this is the way forward.

As Rob stated, it's not about the designers and engineers showing how clever they can be, and he doesn't blame people for thinking this way, in reality it's the move from BIM (Building Information Modelling) to BIM (Building Information Management) that will offer the real value.

Overall the key message throughout the morning was collaboration, collaboration and more collaboration! BIM is here to stay and when used correctly there are genuine benefits to be gained in all elements of design, build and occupation.

Still not convinced? Simon Rawlinson challenged our speakers to come up with an Elevator Pitch that could be used on the occasion “you bump into your CEO in the lift, & have 30 seconds to provide them with a business case for BIM”.
"It will save you time & money if all elements of the process work together." James Pellatt, GPE 
 "It's about pulling all the data together for the entire project rather than focussing on individual elements." Rob Charlton, _space group
"Simply say to your chief exec....If we don't buy into BIM then the client won't come to us. The industry is moving forward." Marc Walker, WSP
So what happens next? Will everyone jump on board and how will the industry engage with the end user?

Footnote (29/10/12):
The BCO is currently in the process of commissioning a new research project on BIM as James Wates’ Presidential Project. The report is due to set out the BCO’s view on this subject, provide guidance on best practice and identify the value of BIM to stakeholders across the membership. To keep up to date with news on this report, sign up to the BCO newsletter.

kindly supported by        
Benefitting from BIM?
Friday 26 October 2012 (08.30)
CBRE, Henrietta House, Henrietta Place
London W1

Interested in finding our more about BCO NextGen? Click here to visit www.bco.org.uk