Autodesk : BIM for FM: A Bird s Eye View


July 06, 2015

A buzzword in the realm of construction for many years now, building information modelling (BIM) has quickly become the norm. Yet, while each passing year adds new names to the long list of construction projects using BIM, the number of FM company adopters remains small. Hoping to gain a better understanding of the factors limiting FM's buy-in to BIM, fmME reached out to some of the industry's software developers for input.

For the uniformed, BIM is a process that involves the generation and collaborative use of digital models of physical and functional characteristics of projects. Packets of information, known also as data drops, can be pulled from the model at various points of the delivery stage of a project, and utilised in a variety of functions.

This can be anything from managing costs, to the exchange of information such as operations and mainteance, service-level agreements and key performance indicators. This is all managed through the use of building information models and the respective software, which is produced by a wide number of software developers.

One such company is Autodesk, an American multinational software corporation that specialises in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Though primarily known for its AutoCAD design suite, a software package that the company has offered since 1982, Autodeskhas focused its efforts over the past few years towards the development of BIM programmes.

The first is the company's Building Design Suite, which supports BIM and CAD based workflows, and the second is the Infrastructure Design Suite. Both have sparked great interest in the global construction and FM market.

In fact, Autodesk's BIM packages have been used on a number of iconic projects across the globe. These include the Shanghai Tower in Chinaand Freedom Tower in New York, USA.

Within the GCC, the software developer's BIM suites have been deployed on projects such as Qatar Rail and Doha Express Way inQatar. In addition to the adoption of its software, Autodesk's team has remained attached to each respective project, providing consultancy and advisory services. Ultimately, its goal is to help decrease overall time and cost on the development of the railway project through the reduction of rework and miscommunication.

"BIM is changing the way buildings are designed and constructed, it is also changing how they're operated and maintained," explains Suhail Arfath, head of Autodesk Consulting, Middle East.

According to the head consultant, the utilisation of BIM is quickly gaining traction across the region, spurred on by strong economic growth and a heightened interest by government bodies to create economic diversification within their respective economies. Large infrastructure spending is also a critical factor, driven by upcoming mega events, such as the UAE Expo 2020 and Qatar 2022 World Cup. Growth in social infrastructure, which includes housing, education and healthcare, is also driving the adoption of BIM.

Another contributing factor that has prompted further adoption in the region was done through government decree. Following in the footsteps of the European Union back in January 2014, the UAE was one of the first countries in the GCC to introduce a mandate that called for the compulsory use of BIM on specific projects.

For the uninformed, the circular 196 which went into effect in January 2014, states that the utilisation of BIM is mandatory on projects that meet certain prerequisites. These include structures that are higher than 40 storeys, sites with more than 300,000 square feet of built-up area, as well as specialist facilities, such as hospitals and universities. Foreign companies aiming to establish a presence in the UAE are also obligated to use BIM in the construction of their respective facilities.

"Once international construction companies adopt BIM in one country, they will soon rollout to other countries and that factor will also force an increased adoption here by all contractors," asserts Arfath.

"The decision by Dubai Municipality to make building information modelling technology mandatory will lead to better buildings built on time…We have Korea, the UK, Finland and the US which have mandated BIM for sustainability and to drive waste out of construction. The UAE,Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the big drivers for BIM."

Yet while Arfath rates the adoption of the system as high within the GCC, he is quick to point out that comparatively speaking, it still falls short of the international standard. Pointing to figures produced byMcGraw Hill Construction's SmartMarket Report 2014, widespread BIM use is felt more in the design and construction process of projects inAsia, North America and Western Europe.

According to the report, feedback from three quarters of participating construction companies reported the start of positive return on investment (ROI) from their respective BIM programmes. Similarly, contractors expect that within the next two years, the percentage of projects involving BIM will increase by 50% on average. Finally, the ROI on BIM is expected to match the rising expertise and experience of contractors engaging with BIM.

Outside of the design and construction environment, the utilisation of building information modelling is also gaining traction in areas of sustainability and facilities management.

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