Sep 20, 2017 Last Updated 11:00 PM, Sep 10, 2017

Collaborative BIM workflows for BIM Level 2 exemplar education scheme

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As an innovative SME building contractor and local authority committed to sustainable building, best practise and value for money, Speller Metcalfe and Worcestershire County Council are working together under the West Midlands Contractor Framework to deliver a BIM Level 2 exemplar education scheme in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.

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The Framework, which came to a close after four years in 2014, delivered projects between three contractors on a rotational basis; however due to the size and scope of Habberley Learning Campus the £24m scheme was tendered in 2012 under mini competition with Speller Metcalfe beating off two national contractors to secure the project.

The Campus is set to complete in 2015, and brings together three schools onto one site, which is currently occupied by Baxter College and St John’s Primary School and is soon to encompass the Wyre Forest Special School.

Both Speller Metcalfe and Worcestershire County Council (WCC) recognised the benefits BIM workflows can bring over traditional building practise, implementing collaborative BIM working four years ahead of government stipulations in 2012. Habberley Learning Campus was acknowledged as an opportunity to:

  • Meet central Government requirements;
  • Improve quality, consistency and efficiency of design and construction information;
  • Enhance collaborative working;
  • Integrate the supply chain early on;
  • Provide value for money;
  • Position the team as industry leaders;
  • Meet the holistic needs of the project.

The initiative – Delivery of Level 2 BIM Workflows in the Public Sector – is based on the Government Construction Client Group’s ‘Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy Paper’, The James Review and AEC Revit Standards, which provided guidance on bringing workflows together for BIM-enabled projects. For the team, it has provided a future model for delivering BIM on both local authority and lower value projects, with wider benefit implications to an industry that is made up predominantly of SMEs.

BIM implementation

The initiative itself has been successfully implemented because of the whole team buying into the ethos and aims of BIM at the project start; ambitions were harnessed with a series of BIM workshops defining an agreed BIM Protocol document to enhance collaborative working, with BIM Champions identified to define which elements of Autodesk REVIT and Navisworks were applicable to individual staff.

In total, 46 Speller Metcalfe and 18 Worcestershire County Council (WCC) staff were trained across:

1. Introduction to REVIT Architecture
2. Introduction to REVIT MEP
3. Advanced REVIT training
4. Introduction to BIM (bespoke to site teams)
5. Navisworks for Collaborative Working

All members of the design team from Speller Metcalfe and WCC used collaborative working platform Autodesk REVIT design suite to ensure coordination of BIM workflows without the need for Navisworks coordination. The architectural model was then distributed via the SharePoint portal, with M&E and Structural design then progressed within the model to avoid infrastructure design clashes with the building fabric.

This model has also been used during public and stakeholder consultations to save time in generating drawings for planning submissions, with Speller Metcalfe using it to identify buildability issues including site logistics and development of the airtightness strategy. The building team also linked the Revit model to the construction programme using Navisworks to create a 4D sequencing of works.

Through this collaborative process key supply chain members were also integrated into workflows – window, external cladding, sprinkler and timber frame sub-contractors have all used the model to develop designs and exact quantities.

During construction, BIM workflows have been implemented using Autodesk Vela software to firstly allow real-time access on site through handheld tablets; drawings, room data sheets and 3D visualisations of service and building infrastructure routes are all examples. Secondly, to ensure workmanship quality control in achieving Passivhaus airtightness standards and thirdly, assisting as a key tool in the quality control process; work tasks will be assigned throughout the defects period using the 3D model, which combined with photographic evidence will remove any ambiguity.

Tangible benefits

The project is now two thirds complete with both the Wyre Forest Weekly Boarding Unit and Science Block handed over the summer following initial handover of an extension to the Primary School, refurbishments at the College and a new floodlit Astro Pitch.

The team has now been able to identify key benefits of working to BIM at this project stage; as well as those previously mentioned, construction programming, accurate quantities during building take offs (including BREEAM), energy assessment measures (e.g. daylight analysis and building performance) and the ability to alter and update the model throughout the design process are simply a few.

Accurate structural and M&E design has also enabled clash detection cost savings and by understanding how to apply BIM working, the team has been able to pick apart the model without the limitations of working to specific architectural drawings, schedule with ease and scrutinise any discrepancies.

In the longer term the use of as-built 3D drawings will enable ease of facilities maintenance for Worcestershire County Council, with life cycle cost benefits including the ability to modify building elements easily, therefore enhancing their long-term flexibility.

Simplifying BIM adoption

Put simply, this initiative provides a model for the adoption of BIM workflows on public sector projects – tying this in with best practise collaborative working. While aimed at local authority level, it can be modified to meet the specific needs of local, county and national authorities and provide a platform for learning at Level 2; Worcestershire County Council (WCC) has been involved with presenting the findings, design and analysis to several County Councils to show how BIM workflows can have a significant positive impact on local authority contracts.

It also provides a strategic training model for private organisations looking to adopt BIM for collaborative working and a valuable case study of lessons learnt to inform wider industry.

Both Speller Metcalfe and WCC have ambitions to continue with a more holistic approach to BIM implementation – from design stage through to construction and beyond, pushing boundaries as they go. While the financial investment made has been significant, their joint commitment to improved environmental design, stakeholder and public engagement and willingness to further and improve knowledge is what has made this partnership a success.

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