On Friday 6th June 2014, The BIM & Integrated Forum met again, this time in delightful surroundings overlooking a London skyline that shouts out the successes of the UK built environment sector.

Richard Hyams, an experienced architect (ASTUDIO) who has himself helped shape the London skyline, kicked off the day. His challenging presentation summarising how we had reached the current position on our BIM journey, the tendency we have to keep reverting to old ways and the need for a new generation of facilities managers who will drive change into the design and construction process.

This launched us into the first debate which posed the question “Are we still on the right road to Level 3”? Always good to get the wedge diagram out! There was a clear consensus on a need for humility and sanity checking in agreeing where we really are in terms of Level 1 and 2. Fundamentally we need to commit to creating models that can be openly shared, accessed and integrated by all project participants and at all stages. We are on the right road, but we must consolidate the first mile before setting our sights on exciting horizons. Without strong foundations, we are surely in the right industry to know what happens next.

The second debate considered whether “Integrated Project Delivery has been left on the bench”? The good news was that some projects were engaging the likes of contractors, owners and operators earlier and reporting benefits from doing so. At the same time, there remained a strong interest in traditional contracts and engagement practices. Those who are pioneering with early engagement and integrated project teams need to shout from the rooftops about the benefits they have achieved. Early engagement feels like a risk when it is highly likely that one of the key benefits from integrated project teams is a dramatic risk reduction.

The final debate took us into the world of merging BIM Models and the aspects of technology, ownership and adoption. Within the Level 2 environment, each discipline is most likely to provide their own model. Many of the opportunities unlocked through BIM flow best when models can be merged, clash-checked, reviewed, modified, cut, sliced, diced and built! The debate noted that model merging can be achieved in many ways. If models are created that only contain discrete elements (i.e. no items are duplicated in multiple models) then these can be merged providing the special coordinates align. Where there are duplicates, one model involved would win-out over the other and its elements would be retained where there were duplicates. Causeway shared work that it had undertaken to allow models to be merged around a central set of ownership rules – sometimes referred to as a responsibility matrix. This allows models to be combined so that ownership is maintained and where model changes from the rules can be reported on at the time of merging, much as with clash detection – but allowing the project manager to decide whether or not to maintain or change the ownership rules. The debate concluded that we needed to be able to merge models with increasing confidence which will be achieved through better adoption around levels of detail as well as of technology.

As always, The BIM & Integrated Projects Forum had provided an opportunity for people across the lifecycle of the built environment to share ideas, learn from each other and agree practical steps that will keep us moving in the right direction.

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