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What's next for BIM?

Source: PSE Feb/March 2018

After some mostly positive findings in last year’s National Building Information Modelling (BIM) Report, PSE’s Luana Salles considers what the future holds for the industry.

In 2017, just a year after the government’s BIM mandate took effect across the public sector, the NBS discovered that BIM adoption had reached a high point in the UK: Level 2 was already well established in the industry, slowly but surely becoming the ‘new normal’ for carrying out design work.

In its National BIM Report, the organisation’s chief executive, Richard Waterhouse, proudly wrote in the document’s foreword: “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.”

The findings were indeed astounding. A majority of respondents thought the government was on the right track with BIM, awareness of the tool is near-universal, and adoption is up – with a whopping 62% of practices using BIM on some projects, marking an 8% year-on-year growth.

“The 12 months preceding this report have seen the most rapid BIM growth since 2014, suggesting that the UK Government’s BIM mandate is having the intended effect,” the report explained.

Almost two-thirds of those questioned also believed BIM will help bring time efficiencies to the construction industry, reducing time from inception to completion of projects, while 70% were confident in the potential for cost savings in the design/build/maintain lifecycle.

The survey, which was the first national look at BIM adoption since the mandate came into force, was, however, not wholly positive. It concluded that the government’s vision of making the UK the world leader in BIM has not yet been realised – at least not according to the design community. But this does not necessarily mean we are lagging behind.

“Only 19% agree that we are the world leader. Perhaps the government set the bar a little high? The UK is certainly one of a handful of countries that is leading BIM development and implementation,” the report explained.

“Other countries are looking to the UK to learn what we are planning, doing, and have done, to inform their own BIM strategy. So if not the leader, the UK is certainly a leader.”

Nevertheless, and despite early signs that the mandate was having the desired effect in ensuring widespread Level 2 adoption, a majority of respondents thought the government was failing to enforce the directive properly. A third were not clear on what they had to do to comply with the mandate, while many cited a lack of client education limiting the effect of the mandate to reap the intended rewards.

And while 55% described themselves as confident in BIM – compared to just 35% in 2012 – 90% said its adoption requires changes in workflow, practices and procedures.

Collaborative living

But the mandate itself is just a step along the journey of implementing BIM. Like Waterhouse explained in his foreword, as the mandate becomes embedded across the UK, “thoughts are naturally turning to what next” – with potentially significant future technologies including robotics, 3D printing, future cities and machine learning.

“Through social media and web use, we are starting to get used to ‘collaborative consumerism.’ As we come to give more and more information about ourselves in the future through our use of tomorrow’s buildings and cities, will we see ‘collaborative living’?” asked the chief executive.

“That’s for the future, a future that is now assured to come through BIM.”




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