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Private sector catching up fast on BIM's potential

The popularity of BIM and the demand for its inclusion on projects is increasing at an exceptional rate across both public and private sectors.

Within the past two months, Mace has seen a rise in requests for the optional BIM requirement within the PAS 91 construction pre-qualification questionnaire.

While this growth is a positive step towards greater BIM implementation, it has also revealed that BIM means many different things to different clients, especially within the private sector; this demonstrates that greater education is necessary to prove the real benefits it can deliver, particularly within the operational lifecycle.

As a result of the Government Construction Strategy and its mandate for “fully collaborative 3D BIM as a minimum by 2016”, areas of the public sector have come to reach a mature understanding in defining the data requirements of Level 2 BIM and the processes and protocols around it.

Private lag

The private sector has had no comparable directive; in comparison to the public sector it is a late adopter, but it is now making up time by fast-tracking implementation and making increased demands for its use. However, few are doing this without a thoroughly developed strategy in place.

“This poses a challenge, as there is a need for a consistent approach where we are all educators with the same message”

BIM has become a recognised construction buzzword within the private sector; the current requirement is to clearly demonstrate how real value goes beyond delivery into the operational lifecycle.

The principal benefits of BIM are more than just 3D modelling: BIM is about the management of information – to add value to clients’ assets – and its potential to unlock better outcomes throughout the asset lifecycle. When we tell our clients ‘We do information management’, they often say ‘Yes, but can you do BIM?’

This poses a challenge for the construction industry, as there is a need for a consistent approach where we are all educators with the same message. To counter this, we need to demonstrate the use of BIM and the value it can deliver when it is used to its full capabilities.

Client point-of-view

Although much has been written about BIM, few have truly considered it from the perspective of the client and how it increases collaboration, programme certainty and risk reduction from the outset.

The ultimate client reward is to use the BIM datasets for operational efficiency; this helps ensure optimal asset performance, as the ‘in-use’ data allows the measurement of what really happens when the asset is functioning and how the systems are operated in real time.

Modelling for better user outcomes and being able to feed this data back to the user to inform future projects is where the big client value proposition sits.

Private sector clients are increasingly exploring the value proposition of BIM, but many still need counsel on how to identify the outcomes they want to achieve.

Once we know what the outcomes are, BIM can be adapted, and as more clients become aware of its benefits they will no longer be willing to pay an extra for BIM but will want to see it as a standard offering within the supply chain.

If the fast rate at which the private sector is requesting BIM continues, the next couple of years will see a shift from current collaboration among clients, contractors, supply chains, architects and designers to a full BIM integration strategy.

This will be a cultural change as the industry moves away from its bias towards traditional ways of delivery and working, but we envisage this will happen in the short to medium term and is something the industry will need to keep up with.

David Philp is head of BIM at Mace

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