Established industries are changing beyond all recognition.
Digital transformation changes the way that we store, manipulate and communicate the information around us. Information has always existed and it has been subject to continual transformation due to new inventions and evolving technologies. Each new information technology, from the printing press, to the fax, to the personal computer and the internet has spawned new and ingenious methods of using information.
The construction of new buildings requires large amounts of information. From the details of how the building should fit together, the materials to be used, the people and organisations involved in a project, the manuals of how the building works and when everything should happen, all the way through to the details of the actual construction.
Monitoring, controlling and guiding a construction project while understanding all the available information requires a special sort of person, with dedication and skill. But, expecting individuals to be able to access, disseminate and fully understand the implications of such large amounts of information is a risky approach.
Digital transformation of design and construction through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), moves project information from being diverse and isolated to being coordinated, centralised and accessible. The information becomes connected, a change to an internal wall instantly changes the data and the effects of that change can be easily understood.
The physical components of a building will always be physical components, but the way that we store, understand and manipulate the information that is required to deliver a facility will continue to change, BIM is just another change, albeit a change that will provide massive benefits.
Facilities are managed and maintained in the most effective way they can be with the information available. Currently, information isn’t intentionally withheld from users and maintenance teams, it just isn’t provided in a useful and accessible way. If relevant information is provided and made accessible, then better, more informed decisions will be made.
The UK government had a large part to play in driving BIM forward. Its BIM mandate required all centrally procured government projects are delivered to a minimum Level 2 BIM maturity from April 2016, providing a push for a lot of organisations to implement the requirements.
The BIM Level 2 guidance documents gave us structure, it required projects to have an Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR), the details of a clients BIM deliverables and a BIM Execution Plan (BEP), a statement of how the BIM requirements will be delivered. It also gave us a common vocabulary. The new tools that BIM offered required new words, although many of these new words are acronyms and there are plenty of acronyms in the world of BIM. The new words enabled us to communicate effectively, we understood what was required when someone requested a MPDT (that’s a Model Production and Delivery Table).
The BIM Level 2 guidance consisted of a largely untested set of procedures and guidance announced in 2012 and released in 2013, developed by a large team of experts, using the best information available at that time.
As an industry, we have now had the opportunity to test and implement the requirements of BIM Level 2 through thousands of projects. This has given us a greater understanding of what works and where improvements are required.