On a warm November evening, I recently delivered a presentation on Building Information Modelling (BIM) to the Dubai Society for Construction Professionals. The temperature is relevant, as the event was held on an 8th floor outside terrace of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dubai’s Media City.

The event was very well attended and both the views and questions were excellent.

I shared an update on progress being made with BIM – covering activities within the UK and how BIM could be embraced in the Middle East region. With a growing number of projects in the Middle East using BIM, the relevance is becoming increasingly clear.

Only days before the presentation, Tony Douglas, CEO of ADAC (Abu Dhabi Airports Company), had reported on their use of BIM on the AED10.9bn ($2.9bn) Midfield Terminal Building project. This is not just a project using BIM – it is possibly the largest single shared model in the world.

The UK has become something of a pioneer in pushing the BIM adoption curve. Having been set as a requirement on Government projects by 2016, the industry has already transformed. The pre-BIM era is surely over. As well as touching on the recently announced 2025 Construction Strategy, I was able to share information as to how you know whether you are complying with Government requirement to achieve what is known as “Level 2 BIM”.

The final details and versions of these documents will hopefully be completed around Q2 in 2014, but the seven documents that collectively describe ‘Level 2 BIM’ have been shared within the UK BIM Task Group. I could not resist referring to these as the ‘Magnificent Seven’ even though this is perhaps a premature title. However, for anyone involved in BIM, this bounding of the requirement is a significant development. These are as follows:

  • BS1192:Pt2 - Managing the information
  • BS1192:Pt3 - Managing the information within a BIM Process
  • Digital Plan of Works - Plain language and technical definitions within project delivery stages
  • Government Soft Landings (GSL) - Early engagement and continuity through to operation
  • The BIM Protocol - Contract support -puts into place specific obligations, liabilities and associated limitations on the use of the models
  • COBieUK (May become BS1192:Pt4) - Physical asset information standard (Used for Data Drops)
  • Uniclass - Classification system

BIM success requires companies, or probably just a small number of key individuals, to understand the potential BIM offers and to take steps embrace and drive change. Those unsure of the value of BIM I hope will make early enquiries into the early adoption gains that are being reported. Although most people see the impact and benefits of BIM, I would encourage those who remain unconvinced to take a look at the growing adoption and evidence, such as the reports available on the UK BIM task group website www.bimtaskgroup.org.

Finally, I took my chance to underline the role played by collaboration and early engagement in achieving many of the benefits associated with BIM. I often hear BIM described as being a process, perhaps by those hoping to avoid stirring that underlying fear of technology.

I think BIM is better described as a ‘technology-enabled process that is built on collaboration and early engagement’. Take out any one of these elements, and the benefits are greatly depreciated. The truth is that most projects seem to find collaboration and early engagement harder to embrace than the technology. Our industry will truly gain if the need for early engagement is given a greater imperative than the delights of a 3-D walk-through model.

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