Delivering value

Callum Tasker takes a look at Business Information Modelling and discusses how the industry is entering the era of collaboration

The construction industry has firmly entered an era of connection and collaboration, with technology radically changing the way buildings and products are designed, managed and used. It is also helping to shape everything from planning processes, to project supply chains – enabling greater productivity, reducing costs and encouraging an age of information sharing.

Business Information Modelling (BIM) is an example of this in action, supporting collaboration at every stage of construction and at all levels of the build supply chain; from initial design, to execution and maintenance. Seventy-seven per cent of construction and engineering companies now believe that BIM will play a significant role within the industry in the future (National BIM Report, 2016), and along with benefits ranging from cost savings to improved safety processes – does it signal a new digital age for construction?

Driven by demand
BIM is a technology which promotes more efficient and collaborative working practices, changing the way buildings are planned, constructed and managed. In brief, it focuses on producing an intelligent 3D model, accessible to all those involved in a build – from the architect and engineering teams, to contractors and facility managers – allowing them to work collaboratively and efficiently on a project from beginning to end.

Its initial uptake has been assisted by the Government’s plan to modernise the construction sector, with a ruling that Level 2 BIM must be employed on all Government projects of £5 million plus. Alongside the Government’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment by 50 per cent, BIM is expected to play an integral part in all major future UK builds.

Its digital design holds more information than any other drawing or CAD system, going beyond basic measurements, providing complex data on every aspect of a building, from its fire rating to its energy outputs. Adopting a BIM approach can not only bring predictability to a project, but can also save time and money, by removing wasteful processes and providing detailed information to allow for more informed decisions to be made at the right time.

It allows users to see the full scope of a build, making details of every building component available in one shared place; this includes data on spaces, systems, products and sequences. It can even detect potential conflicts, preventing build errors, while allowing for better risk management and planning – avoiding costly mistakes and build delays.

Building with BIM
In the UK, BIM is not a new concept – however, it is only in recent years, and with the Government’s support, that adoption and awareness of its benefits have increased. A recent survey also revealed that in a year’s time, 86 per cent of construction professionals expect to be using BIM on at least some of their projects; a figure that soars to 97 per cent in five years (National BIM Report, 2016).

An example of its success has been demonstrated by water management systems firm, ACO; one of the first to market in the drainage sector to deliver its product data via BIM. The team committed to BIM in 2013, and today, BIM files are downloaded daily by its users, accelerating the business by up to two years ahead of companies that have been slower to respond. And whilst the UK is led by its government directive, ACO’s global sister companies are now also requesting files; a direct result of an increase in demand.

Being BIM ready
BIM is unlikely to dramatically alter the build landscape overnight, with the software – which requires a major initial financial investment – meaning that adoption amongst small businesses remains minimal. Its relative newness also means there are limited experts in the field, making investment into staff training and education essential if BIM is to be accepted and adopted by all within a business or project; a vital component if it is to be used to its full potential.

Arguably, BIM is not just a modern technology; it is a better way of working, creating value from collaboration and data sharing, and for it to be successful in practice, adoption is needed from all those involved in a build supply chain. Its widespread use could signal the end of projects running over budget and over schedule; two of the biggest hindrances in construction.

The process of designing a building collaboratively using an intelligent, 3D model-based process, rather than a set of drawings, is hailed by many as the future for mainstream project delivery. By cutting out long work processes, and by providing greater clarity over a project, BIM has the power to deliver value at every level – right through to the customer.

Callum Tasker is Operation Director at CMO. As the launch site for CMO, Roofing Superstore (first to market in its field), is today recognised as the UK’s largest online roofing merchant. This business model has since been replicated for subsequent sister sites, Drainage Superstore and Insulation Superstore. By combining its successful model with trusted, bespoke, web-based application, a proven track record in the business of construction and over 47,000 building supplies products across specialist construction disciplines, the company satisfies modern consumer demands for a smarter, online solution to purchasing building materials.

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