“BIM – A thought, or two . . .”



David E Morton BA(Hons) Arch. B.Arch(Hons) Dip.PPM Dip.Hsg. MSc. Urban UDG CIAT ARB RIBA PGCertAPL FHEA
Associate Professor Northumbria University Newcastle.

Richard Humphrey FCIOB, FCMI, FIoD, FinstLM, PGCertAPL, FHEA
Managing Director “Constructing Professionals Ltd”,visiting Industry Teaching Fellow Northumbria University; and Visiting Lecturer Salford University.

The impact of CAD on the construction world was huge; it allowed the accurate realisation of the brief through the Architects design, drawn in a format that allowed each design team member to take a slice of the design cake and serve it up into a different dish. The key here is that the information is from the same source. It is, hopefully, not replicated but used from the original GA drawings for other parties to embellish with further useful and user friendly constructional information. However, this is a perfect world scenario and the “real world” version of this is more akin to “A mad hatters tea party” where the original cake (architects drawings) is served up without checking who or what each design team member “really” needs. The end result is often a mixed bag of information that requires each design team member to disassemble the in formation they have been given and more often than not redraw some information in order to complete their own work packages. As the mad hatter surveys his rather messy table, with cake, tea and biscuits now mashed into the cakes… the contractor surveys his working packages wondering why items simply don’t fit together.

Enter stage left BIM, the saviour of this rather messy tea party; it is the holistic cake that will stand proudly at centre table from which everyone around it will be served.
Both the architectural and construction industry is undergoing a significant shift away from the use of two-dimensional CAD for design and towards three-dimensional, data rich, digital models. This type of approach is referred to as Building Information Modelling (BIM), is being used in some form by an increasing sector of the construction industry. A survey by McGraw Hill Construction found that in 2008, 45% of architects, engineers, contractors and building owners surveyed used BIM on 30% or more of their projects. That was almost ten years ago, so what’s happened during this time? Has the usage of BIM increased as was forecast? It has grown, but by how much? And will it to continue growing sharply in the coming years?
There lies the challenge for us all. As an industry we rely heavily on collaboration to achieve our common and communal goals, to build buildings to time and budget that are designed to meet a quality and enrich those that use them.

Remember BIM is not a tool but a process and we should not become software snobs akin to those who frequent coffee shops with certain well known “fruit” hanging on the back on their laptops. The main challenge that faces SME’s in the construction industry is to use the BIM tools more effectively. BIM is most definitely NOT the new CAD.

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