Interviews

Nuclear BIM & Digital with Philip Isgar

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From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 3

From BIM Journal Issue 03 – here

In terms of the Nuclear sector then when it comes to all things BIM and strategy we should look no further than Philip Isgar (Sunbeam Management Solutions). Chair of the Nuclear Institute Digital Community Special Interest Group, an organisation that embraces his previous work with the BIM Delivery Team and BIM Task Group, set up specifically to fully engage with the nuclear sector.

Keenly contributing to many strategic documents, as well as working with Innovate UK and being a key player when it comes to the nurturing and fostering of Knowledge Transfer Networks, Philip is also a member of the Construction Industry Council (Council and Project Panel) representing APM as well as being a member of the Constructing Excellence Nuclear Theme Group and Manchester Executive, North West Nuclear Forum and the immediate past chair of the ICE Manchester Branch Committee.

What is the most exciting thing about working in the sector?

The nuclear sector is over seventy years old. Clash detection was used over thirty five  years ago so it has been around a long time. I joined the BIM Task Group in 2013, the vision was in a sector that was spending over £3bn a year already on decommissioning, with the potential of a new build market in 2016 embracing conventional reactors and the Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s). This was a sector to be encouraging with passion.

On a personal level I joined the nuclear industry as a student in 1975 (a period in railway project management) and my journey has been fantastic. The government of the day in the mid 1990’s said “no more nuclear for a generation” well I am still here, along with many others.

How would you describe BIM in the Nuclear sector today?

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On a journey from a standing start toward a fully Digital Nuclear Community embracing Engineering, Manufacturing, Construction and Operations. I currently Chair the Nuclear Institute Digital Community - Special Interest Group. The membership are the major client organisations such as Innovate UK / KTN's, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear AMRC and the New Build promoters along with consulting, manufacturing and construction organisations. Cabinet Office and BEIS are also supportive, so I would say that the sector is fairly healthy at the moment.

Have companies yet to engage with BIM made a mistake, or have they been sensible to wait?

Some are watching what happens, others are looking to work collaboratively, most are understanding of the government's mandate on centrally funded projects. When tenders / contracts start to show a clear requirement for an understanding of Asset Information Requirements and Employer Information Requirements then the supply chain will respond.

What would your advice be to all companies large and small seeking to implement BIM in their business operations today?

Take the time to look at what you do already, 3D Modelling isn’t new, work out with your people a structured way ahead. Always communicate your intentions both internally and tell your clients and supply chain, it's amazing how much feedback and support you will get. There are positive examples of early adopters at Sellafield Ltd, and Edf are already embracing the principles at Hinkley.

Many clients, even public sector, are reported to be either wary of BIM adoption or not fully understanding of its benefits. Do you agree with this/ why do you think this is?

There is excellent work being done by the UK BIM Alliance Group to get organisations along to Level 2, the aspiration to move to Digital Built Britain and Digital Level 3 is to be applauded, nuclear is very much on that journey.

What do you feel would help improve and encourage greater collaboration in the built environment?

Innovative forms of contracting - where cost isn’t the main issue, but with more reliance on delivering world class solutions as a single team where people are at the heart of it. Teams that have clearly defined roles and responsibilities across client and supply chains will benefit the most.

What have been the biggest disappointments or frustrations, personally and publicly, on the journey to BIM implementation?

Too much reliance on the supply chain grasping the initiative. Leadership can come from a number of directions, it is out there and it is fantastic to see the development of the Construction Leadership Council. Well done! There are many senior organisations that are already supporting government, plus there is tremendous talent in the world of SME's that can support as well. By way of example, Waldeck Engineering are already working on Enterprise Management Initiatives and the development of a Digital Twin strategy for the industry.

What do you say to people that insist COBie doesn't pair naturally well with infrastructure assets?

In Nuclear the key is to develop the most informative 3D models as as soon as practicable. The 3D model developed along with 4D programming and 5D cost is also heavily reliant on the operator being positive up front with the Asset Information Requirements (AIR) and Employer Information Requirements (EIR). This is an absolute must. If the models are consistently used and approved, BS1192-4 becomes a model pass through, archived at handover, with an operations lead on using the same model for the life of the asset through to disposal. Governance throughout the entire process is really the key.

Where can people go to learn more and what events are on the horizon?

The Nuclear Institute has a list of Special Interest Groups (SIG's) and Digital Community is one of them. Take a look at the website and register your interest, there are others which have an alignment and absolute relevance to the journey ahead. The next Digital SIG (DigSig) will be in Bristol around September '

Also, I am sitting on a panel at Salford University on the 14th of September for the 4th Annual Construction Summit North and I will also be speaking at Digital Construction Week in October in London. I've also been invited by the University of Bolton to share a number of Master Class lectures, and Digital / BIM in the Nuclear Industry will be one of them. Also in early 2018 I will be presenting with the ICE NW - Cheshire Branch.

From BIM Journal Issue 03 – here

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Nathan Hudson

Hello - Please feel free to drop me a line (especially if you're in Training or Academia - huge developments going on for you here). I am also the editor of BIM Journal.

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