Less than one in six building services firms servicing the public sector are ‘BIM ready’ and the industry is way behind the Government’s BIM timetable. That’s the widely reported headline from the latest major industry survey by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA). At face value, it’s certainly a worrying statistic.
While we should now be turning the final corner in a concerted effort to meet the 2016 deadline for the mandatory use of ‘BIM Level 2’ on all Whitehall-procured contracts, you’d be hard-pushed to find a commentator who doesn’t think the industry collectively still has many challenges to overcome.
We at SES strongly believe it’s time to instead dedicate our collective efforts to inspiring, educating and enabling firms of all sizes to see the true business benefits of BIM.
It’s already clear from the ECA’s report that ‘awareness’ of BIM is high with nearly two-thirds of respondents saying that BIM Level 2 will be ‘good for the sector’ and 57% acknowledging it will shape the ‘future for building services’.
One project on which BIM was invaluable for SES was the circa £4m contract to deliver full M&E services on the Centre for Process Innovation’s National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) in Darlington – a scheme led by Interserve.
Object based modelling allowed the complex MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) systems to be co-ordinated, pre-fabricated and installed with exceptionally high levels of accuracy in collaboration with all project stakeholders; optimising efficiency and maximising value for both SES and the client.
Through our commitment to the use of BIM on the CPI NBMC project, we estimate that, in terms of true value, the BIM process actually paid for itself through the mitigation of risk and improvements to business process efficiency.
The 2015 NBS National BIM Report identified two of the main barriers for uptake of Building Information Modelling (BIM) as cost and client demand.
It could be argued that the two are inextricably linked. Until the construction industry supply chain embraces new processes and technology to maximise business efficiency, reduces costs and increases profitability and value, our clients will not demand BIM.
Now that BIM processes are fully implemented on all SES projects, we are able to save several thousand man hours per annum, a figure which has been measured and quantified to demonstrate return on investment.
As a direct consequence, SES are able to deliver:
- Enhanced interoperability and early collaboration of all project stakeholders
- Incorporation of best practice engineered solutions prior to arriving on site
- Maximised opportunities for offsite manufacture leading to less waste, increased safety and reduction of on-site labour and programme
- Reduced profit leakage through minimising rework and redesign, loss of productivity, late procurement decisions, snagging and defects
- Maximised time on site to manage health and safety, quality, labour, productivity, main contractor relationships and Soft Landings
Our message is that the benefits of BIM are manifold and as we have seen at SES the adoption of new technology, process and culture does bring about increased efficiency and value. However, until there is widespread and uniform adoption across the whole supply chain, our industry will not be able to realise the true potential of BIM.
With this in mind we need advocacy from those who have made the transition, clear case studies showing return on investment and continued support and guidance from Government. With this in mind, our industry should set its sights on the long term goal with April 2016 as the starting point for our journey towards a Digital Built Britain.