It has been vital to make BIM an integral part of our processes to meet and exceed government 2016 targets.
We have also introduced annual internal BIM awards to recognise and reward those embracing and influencing our shift from analogue to digital.
In the M&E world, we have been producing 3D CAD and models for a number of years in isolation from architects and steelwork contractors.
However, by creating a standard approach, we are able to work together collaboratively on live models, enabling the team to identify interface issues, overcome potential clashes and drive through efficiencies before we set foot on site.
Early collaboration gets results
To obtain the best results, we have to engage with our supply chain much earlier than has historically been the case.
For instance, rather than placing orders for plant and equipment just before they have to be installed, we select our preferred suppliers at the design stage so that a specific piece of kit is designed into the scheme.
This ensures it fits, can be maintained and that the systems are all working in harmony together.
“These results far outweigh a few pence saved in the old traditional way of procurement”
Some who have not bought into the principles of collaboration might say this risks losing a competitive advantage.
But early engagement ensures systems are designed together, which drives out material waste and duplication of effort while encouraging front-end engineering.
These results far outweigh a few pence saved in the old traditional way of procurement.
Today we operate comfortably in a multi-discipline, co-ordinated Level 2 BIM environment aligned with PAS 1192-2 (the specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using BIM).
Our collaborative working standards produce BIM execution plans written specifically to meet the digital needs of both our delivery teams and our clients before, during and after construction.
For clients, this approach leads to leaner internal processes, better whole-team engagement, smarter project outcomes and de-risked projects and bids.
Over the past two years, we have reduced materials waste by 20 per cent on projects that have used BIM.
This result has been achieved partly through offsite fabrication, which enables us to reduce ordered quantities significantly and minimise waste.
All of this results in improved efficiency on site with significant advances in complex modularisation, saving time, money and significant hours working at height.
For example, on a project completed recently for a major car manufacturer, instead of installing high-level pipework, ductwork, busbar (electrical conductors) and electrical containment, early involvement and BIM allowed us to have 244 modules manufactured off site.
Moreover, the installation team required just four workers over eight weeks, saving 11,129 hours of at-height working.
Other recent BIM projects for us have included the HMYOI Cookham Wood, West Yorkshire Police PFI and more latterly Birmingham Dental Hospital and UWE student accommodation.
The key to future success is clearly early engagement to drive through real value across the whole supply chain.
Mike Knowles is MD at Interserve Engineering Services