05 November 2017
Digital integration is lagging in our construction sector.
The Australian construction industry continues to miss out on the productivity benefits of adopting BIM (Building Information Modelling). Estimates quantify this loss at $7.6 billion in savings over a decade (1).
According to Jack DeCandia, from Redstack BIM Services,
“Australia is being held back by the lack of a coordinated national strategy to stimulate industry adoption of BIM...
...The sector is missing out on the known cost savings potential and increased productivities gained from the use of these technologies and methodologies.”
Globally, other Governments have to lead the way in incentivising BIM technology use.
BIM mandates for all public projects and major contracts are in place in several leading international construction economies.
This has positively impacted BIM adoption rates and driven cost efficiency through the sector in these countries.
What is BIM?
Building information modelling (BIM) is a process supported by various tools, technologies and contracts involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places. Building information models (BIMs) are computer files that can be extracted, exchanged or networked to support decision-making regarding a built asset.
BIM software is used by individuals, businesses and government agencies who plan, design, construct, operate and maintain buildings and diverse physical infrastructures, such as water, refuse, electricity, gas, communication utilities, roads, railways, bridges, ports and tunnels.
Importantly, the existence of a shared digital model improves the accuracy of the information and the speed of information exchange particularly when inevitable changes are made to the design or specifications. Lastly, when the project is complete, the BIM model is a true representation of the built form and becomes the "As-Built" drawings and a full and complete repository of every component and system installed.
The concept of BIM has been in development since the 1970s, but it only became an agreed term in the early 2000s. Development of standards and adoption of BIM has progressed at different speeds in different countries; standards developed in the United Kingdom from 2007 onwards have formed the basis of international standard ISO 19650, launched in January 2019.
Australian Government fails to take the lead
Following a 2014 Productivity Commission Infrastructure Inquiry, however, the Australian Government’s position was that ‘impediments to adoption’ for BIM could be overcome by the market, negating calls to accelerate adoption through a focused strategy of Government participation.
The construction industry continues to advocate to change the Commission’s recommendation.
“Lack of a coordinated national strategy impacts on two levels,” says Jack, ‘creating uncertainty in the market and a lack of consistency and understanding in project BIM requirements and deliverables.”
Global BIM mandates drive increased productivity
While the Australian government is yet to mandate the use of high-level BIM in government projects, several countries throughout Europe, the UK, the US, and Asia (notably Singapore and South Korea) have BIM mandates in place that have continued to reap productivity benefits.
In the UK, for example, the government introduced a Digital Built Britain national strategy in 2011 with the objective to improve productivity, deliver procurement savings and reduce carbon emissions.
The strategy identified a target 20% cost saving across all government construction projects (an estimated £840 million has been achieved), with a requirement that all contractors be BIM Level 2 compliant.
As a result, adoption rates of BIM in the UK reached 54% in 2016 and recent survey results suggest that 80% of firms expect to adopt BIM. Further to this, the UK has now launched a Level 3 BIM strategic plan this year (2).
In the US, since the introduction of a National BIM Program back in 2003 mandating BIM adoption for all Public Buildings Service projects, it is estimated that 72% of construction firms now use BIM technologies to drive project cost savings (2).
Singapore is leading the world in BIM
Singapore has also been one of the leaders in the use of BIM technology and methodology since the government committed to a mandate in 2008. The Singaporean government-assisted industry with funding for training and technology prompted a rapid uptake in BIM adoption.
The Building & Construction Authority in Singapore (BCA) developed various training courses to assist the industry with education and developing skills and knowledge of BIM.
“Redstack was one of a few companies approached by the Singapore government to launch the country’s first pilot BIM project in 2008”, says Jack DeCandia.
“This pilot project has now evolved as the country’s standard for government-funded projects that are greater than 5000 sq.m in size.”
A change in mindset is required.
These mandated countries realise that BIM is not just about technology. It is also a process of how to deliver these projects using a proven methodology that is different to the traditional methods of construction.
“This requires a change in mindset from owners, contractors and subcontractors, which is often difficult when an industry has been using the same method for decades,” says Jack.
According to Jack, “When delivering a BIM-enabled project, it is critical the project is planned carefully at the very early stages of concept design and has early contractor involvement so the whole project team has a clear understanding of the project deliverables and the client’s needs and objectives.”
“It is also critically important for both the client and the contractor to have a project delivery representative (preferably independent experienced consultants such as Redstack) taking the lead to ensure the project plan is followed,” he says.
“Unfortunately, this is rarely the case in Australia and New Zealand as the BIM process is often misunderstood or not delivered in the way it was intended. This is usually because the client doesn’t understand BIM and leaves the process to be handled by the contractor or the architect who may not necessarily have the skills to manage the BIM throughout the entire project.”
“It is, therefore, fundamentally important to determine the BIM capability for each project stakeholder up-front and to identify any shortfalls.”
Benefits over the Asset Lifecycle
BIM has the potential to deliver significant benefits over the asset lifecycle from design and construction through to Facilities Management.
“Redstack are currently involved in some iconic global projects which have seen our BIM methodology evolve to deliver outstanding results to clients around the world,” says Jack.
“The world’s first Smart City, Lusail City in Qatar, is an example of how a government has embraced BIM to help build the world’s first ‘maintenance free’ city using proven BIM techniques and technology.”
“We are also proud to have provided full ‘Turn-Key’ BIM services on the National Cancer Institute in Malaysia, where we have not only assisted the client with the BIM project management but also the integration of the BIM into Facilities Management, a process that realises a major benefit from BIM,” says Jack.
“Haneda Airport Terminal in Tokyo, Japan and the Changi Airport Terminals in Singapore are also examples of successful BIM implementation”.
Redstack is a leading supplier of BIM services in Australia.
Jack DeCandia heads up their BIM Services division.