Model buildings: how BIM is becoming business as usual



Building information modelling (BIM) continues to find traction in the Australian construction industry, just as it does worldwide. As part of Ecolibrium’s continuing coverage of the subject.

Sean McGowan sought an update from a panel of local and international industry leaders, including Wood & Grieve Engineers director Grant Holman, M.AIRAH; A.G. Coombs group engineering manager

Warwick Stannus, M.AIRAH; NDY’s director of information technology Frank Italia; ASHRAE board member Dennis Knight; and CIBSE technical director Hywel Davies.


Ecolibrium: What is the status of BIM? Has it become entrenched in the building industry?

Holman: I don’t think there is widespread adoption of the full functionality of BIM. Certainly parts are being used for various reasons, but we have not seen a fully cohesive integration of BIM to any significant degree. We have seen the larger developers/builders invest more heavily in the development and implementation of BIM. The smaller developers/builders have had little to no investment in BIM capability.  The design professionals have, for the most part, invested in developing BIM capability, with some further along the development path.

Stannus: In our experience, it is now unusual for major projects not to leverage BIM in their design and delivery, particularly as it relates to design and virtual construction coordination. Whilst the use of BIM for design of smaller and medium-size projects seems to be increasing, project teams rarely seem to leverage the design model with the aim of improving the construction delivery – the limiting factor in most cases would appear to be the investment in training and technology required.

Italia: There’s no doubt BIM has progressed over the past two years. The interest in BIM and application of technology across many market sectors has increased to the extent where it is considered business as usual in certain environments. This has facilitated a market for the development of additional tools to assist with implementation and management of BIM practices.

Knight: BIM is well entrenched in the US industry at this time. It seems as though the last five years has seen a substantial increase in BIM users worldwide. I believe this to be because BIM has moved beyond use in architectural and general construction practices and is now being used by nearly every consulting and trade discipline required to design and construct a building.

Davies: It is not yet firmly entrenched in the UK, but it is looming large and is not going away any time soon. Other industries have undergone a digital transformation – in the UK we now produce more cars than in the 1970s, but with only 10 per cent of the workforce. Construction and the built environment are taking their time, but they cannot avoid it.

Ecolibrium: What are some

of the barriers being confronted?

Stannus: Across all projects, the leverage of building life-cycle data is proving to be a challenge. A significant barrier to harnessing the value of building life cycle data is the lack of a cohesive and fit-for-purpose shared parameter scheme that meets the needs of designers, constructors, the supply chain and ultimately building owners and facility managers.

Holman: While there has been significant progress, BIM is still yet to fully embed itself into the industry. The critical factor to drive widespread adoption will be when construction techniques and methodologies are more automated, which in turn would rely upon a fully developed model. We are seeing significant developments along this path and envisage that the rate of progress will only increase.

BIM is about managing information more effectively, and evolving processes that enable better asset information management .. read more;

Click here to read this feature cover story from Ecolibrium magazine.


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