Analysis

Does GCC Construction Understand What BIM Means?

 

Earlier this month, the Bahrain Society of Engineers (BSE) organised a seminar aimed at improving the knowledge of building information modelling (BIM) in the Kingdom. Jointly hosted by Mercury MENA, an engineering services provider, the Digital Construction – Building with BIM conference was attended by BSE’s members, as well as construction and property development professionals from around the Kingdom.

Remarking on the decision to host the seminar, Masoud Ebrahim A-Hermi, president of BSE said: “We are pursuing the enhancement of local standards in engineering practice, which includes the use of BIM technology in architectural and engineering firms. Through this forum we would like to generate increased awareness towards BIM and promote its uses for the end benefit of construction managers, architects, engineers, and facility management personnel.”

A-Hermi’s remarks highlight the evolution BIM is currently undergoing in the region. Slowly but surely, the GCC’s construction professionals are taking their first steps towards the realisation of BIM principles in their operational structures.

Yet, a key obstacle towards greater BIM uptake remains the ambiguousness of its full extent and components. While it is often thought of as an all-in-one product, BIM, in fact, is “part data standards and part process standards”, as Stephan Jones, segment manager at Trimble MEP, tells Construction Week. Trimble, which acquired Amtech in 2014, has worked on projects such as Muscat International Airport, Yas Mall, Dubai Metro, and Zayed University in the region.

“Each part one acts upon the other,” Jones says. “Standards, such as buildingSMART International, apply to the production and storage of information within a common data environment. Among other things, they also reinforce specific standards for managing work in progress, including reviews, and the associate process of coordination and collaboration.

“By applying BIM standards, information becomes more consistent. It is recognisable, shareable, and filterable, and can therefore be more effectively used for coordination.”

Appropriate information input remains a frequently-overlooked aspect of maximising BIM’s potential on a project, Jones remarks. The period between design creation and on-site construction is a critical part of this process.

Project designs, be they 2D or 3D, are prepared based on architectural and engineering principles – these drawings then form the basis of actual construction work, and are later used for historic reviews during operation.

Bhupinder Singh, senior vice president of Bentley Software says the scope for communication at this stage represents a growth area for the deployment of BIM opportunities in the construction sector.

“The challenge is to decipher how to take a set of discipline-based data, re-factor it to be spatial and constructible, and then re-factor it back [for building operations].

“As a tech provider, we’ve done a lot of work over the last five years to solve this problem and build a common environment to allow for that process of changes,” Singh tells Construction Week.

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