Interserve is the first contractor to achieve the BRE’s Level 2 accreditation. National BIM manager Alex Jones explains what was involved.
What did the certification process involve?
It was much more intelligent and sophisticated than expected - not just a tick-box exercise.
There is a prequalification - which covers things like existing company policies - at which point you quickly learn if it’s worth carrying on and going through the full certification process.
Then there is a two-day study which looks at how BIM has been applied in the business.
But that is only the assessment - behind that, we have had to do a huge amount of work changing company procedures to become compliant.
Central to that is embedding the BIM processes in our management system.
This is one reason we’re glad it has been certified by a third party. It means that if I get hit by a bus, then the company knows how to use my knowledge.
What needed to change in Interserve to be accredited?
We’ve organised training across the business. Those who win work need to be articulate about BIM.
Project managers need to know how to use it, and 80 per cent have been trained so far. We’re now taking it to site workers and looking at training the supply chain.
“We’re glad it’s been certified by a third party. It means if I get hit by a bus, then the company knows how to use my knowledge”
As a construction management company, our requirements are different to designers.
We aim to give project managers and site staff an appreciation of BIM in half a day, but the key is retaining and applying the knowledge.
So we have a BIM guru who sits with them and provides support on projects.
We also have a BIM hub with training videos to provide a refresher.
Has there needed to be a culture change?
One of the best investments I made was £40 on a glass trophy to reward BIM innovation on Interseve projects.
It has bred friendly competition among project managers and teams and means they come to me with information about how they’ve used BIM on our projects. We can captures that best practice and put it in our prequals.
What about IT investment?
It’s been significant - hundreds of thousands. We’ve upgraded hardware and moved away from using local servers and now everything is in the cloud.
Staff can log in from anywhere to access BIM. It has meant a lot of investment in the past 12 months, but this will have a positive legacy.
“Talent is increasingly global; we want staff to be able to access what they need, wherever they are”
We’re also now realising that this is a much smarter way of working in other parts of the group, not just for BIM users.
Talent is increasingly global; we want staff to be able to access what they need, wherever they are.
Do you have a preference for any BIM software?
No - we don’t wed ourselves to any one provider, it limits our options in the supply chain and with our clients. We like to be open platform.
Ultimately the client is king and if they want to use particular software, then we use it. Hopefully in time different packages will become more interoperable.
How does your supply chain respond to BIM?
It’s fair to say clients can see it as an extra cost, and it is for the industry to educate clients about BIM. But we use it irrespective of client demand.
Some clients are starting to appreciate the benefits - even the low-hanging fruit like clash detection saves £3,500 per clash on average.
“Sometimes project managers come back to say the lead designers are charging extra for working in 3D, which is not on”
We are trying to make our project managers appreciate how important their conversations are with lead designers.
Sometimes project managers come back to say the lead designers are charging extra for working in 3D, which is not on.
We are still asking for the same output requirement, just on a different platform.
So BIM capability is starting to influence our choice of supply chain partners.
What is next on Interserve’s BIM journey?
It is important to note that the compliance is not just an end in itself. And adopting BIM is not an isolated process; it fits in with our aims to improve productivity and be more sustainable.
Construction as an industry has been very good at generating data, but not so good at using it.
We are a cradle-to-grave business, so we need to be harnessing data from our FM business and pumping it into the design processes at the front end.
A digital arms race is about to happen, and we’re looking forward to it.