Building Information Modelling (BIM) is transforming how
large projects are being constructed the world over. With its
unparalleled capacity to improve coordination between design teams,
construction contractors and operators, BIM offers better results
at a lower cost.
Advanced countries in North America, Europe and Asia are already
benefiting from BIM in both project delivery as well as ongoing
asset management. In contrast, countries that are slow to embrace
the BIM revolution are at risk of falling further behind in the
global construction industry.
BIM has been identified by governments globally as a more
co-ordinated and cost-efficient way to build and manage assets over
BIM brings together all parties early in the project and
connects them into a virtual 'design' forum to review the
simulated structure, share information and raise issues. The
virtual information model is handed from the design team
(architects, surveyors, engineers, etc) to the main contractor and
subcontractors and then on to the owner/operator. Each professional
adds their own data to the single, shared model.
This improves coordination among the various stakeholders
(whether they are designers, contractors, fabricators) and allows
for scheduling or design clashes to be detected early. It also
reduces information losses that can occur when a new team takes
'ownership' of the project, and means fewer costly
misunderstandings between the design and the construction
participants, and the facilities managers.
BIM is evolving rapidly. While the current use of BIM is
generally limited to a 3D virtual walkthrough of a project as it is
built, new dimensions will soon be added such as time-construction
sequencing (fourth dimension), cost information (fifth dimension)
and facility management (sixth dimension). Each additional
dimension integrates more information about the project, boosting
the model's overall completeness and efficacy.
As more information or 'intelligence' is added, the data
can be "mined" to identify and monitor the project's
performance. Close tracking of performance means that intervention
can happen earlier if a project element is falling behind the
Data 'mining' of the model can also play a valuable role
in identifying the most efficient way to operate and maintain the
asset going forward.
However, BIM is not without challenges. A particular issue is
the preparedness of owner clients (whether public or private
sector) to appreciate how BIM affects project delivery structure
and the associated risks for project stakeholders. BIM demands a
more collaborative approach in contracts for projects.
A consistent approach towards contracting for and utilising BIM
is critical to generating the productivity and performance gains
that the modelling can achieve. In the United States (widely
recognised as the leader of the BIM movement) and Scandinavian
countries, governments are implementing national standards to
improve consistency and make it easier to use BIM in the
Similarly, governments in the United Kingdom and some other
parts of Europe have issued requirements for BIM on public
projects. The Building and Construction Authority in Singapore has
released the Singapore BIM Guide which provides a common BIM
standard to accelerate the technology's use and development.
Its use is also being promoted in China and Korea.
In Australia, the Australian Government (through the Built
Environment Innovation Council and Building SMART) released the
National Building Information Modelling Initiative (NBI) Report
which sets out the strategy for the adoption of BIM, and related
digital technologies and processes for the Australian built
This widespread implementation demonstrates that BIM is not
merely the latest trend in the construction industry but is a
fundamental tool transforming the way we develop new
infrastructure. Those who fail to embrace its capabilities risk
being unable to compete effectively in the global construction
For countries that are yet to develop BIM practices, the
experience of global leaders offers fertile ground to learn from
and tailor standards to suit the specific circumstances of their
own domestic construction industries.
A detailed paper on the state of the use of BIM globally and
legal and commercial considerations and some of the challenges in
its use in Australia has been published in the International
Construction Law Review July 2013 edition,
click here to view.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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