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CN Briefing: BIM Level 2; SMEs; construction methods

A good big’un always beats a good littl’un, so the maxim goes. I mean, just ask the dinosaurs right?

Ah… maybe not.

What history actually tells us is that it depends on the situation.

When it comes to adaptability and moving with the times, there are certainly occasions when the nimble firms can steal a march on the lumbering behemoths.

Yet when we start to look at BIM uptake in the UK, the picture isn’t as rosy as it might be for the smaller businesses, and subcontractors in particular. At least, that’s what CN’s survey on Level 2 uptake tells us.

The study of more than 150 businesses found that almost 70 per cent of main contractors, consultants, professional services firms and clients have either fully embedded BIM Level 2 standards into their business management systems, or are using Level 2 when a project dictates it.

But only half of the subcontractors that responded are currently using Level 2.

Now let’s be clear here: half of subcontractors being in the ‘yes’ camp is still a solid result for the industry, especially for firms that want to get involved with centrally procured public sector work now the 4 April government mandate has come and gone.

But there is, nonetheless, a gap. So why might this be?

Anecdotally at least, businesses that are further along the BIM road tell us that they know it’s a sensible way of working. They reference efficiencies ranging from cost and time, to materials, low carbon and even health and safety. But they struggle to provide evidence – there really are very few audits out there.

When we look at possible reasons for uptake-lag, there may be an issue of quantifying the benefits. Without an audit, it’s hard to measure how BIM de-risks the design and construction process, allows for more rapid and better-informed decisions, or stimulates innovation.

What we can say is few firms that really embrace BIM then go back to the old ways.

And speaking of dinosaurs, when Iron Maiden sang Be Quick or Be Dead for their 1992 album Fear of the Dark, they probably weren’t talking about technology in the construction industry.

However, in such a fiendishly tight-margined industry, being nimble and adaptable might just make the difference where it counts – in the pocket.

Go here to read CN’s report on Level 2 uptake for free– and get in touch. I’m keen to hear your feedback.

In other news

Shortly after the French government threw its weight behind Hinkley Point C, its economy minister admitted the final investment decision on EDF’s £18bn nuclear power plant will not be made until September. Jack Simpson has the story.

The Balfour Beatty / Vinci joint venture bidding for some of the £11.8bn High Speed 2 civils packages has named Mott MacDonald and French firm Systra as its design partners.

Transport for London will launch the first mini-competition for its property partnership framework in May. Robyn Wilson explains.

Dozens of workers on an Interserve energy-from-waste plant have gone on strike for two days over a long-running pay dispute at the £155m project in Glasgow.


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