With major architectural firms already firmly on the BIM bandwagon, we thought it was time to look at some of the initiatives, products and organisations that are helping make BIM a less disruptive, more affordable alternative for the rest of us, starting with the mighty UKGov BIM Mandate…
The BIM Mandate
The UKGov BIM Mandate has been established by the UK BIM Task Group, and has been driving BIM adoption across the UK construction industry. The government intends to require collaborative 3D BIM with a completely electronic document trail on all its projects by 2016, and is also using the initiative to drive a 20% drop in the sector’s carbon emissions.
A significant number of larger companies have fallen in line with this already (nothing motivates like the thought of suddenly finding yourself ineligible for contracts) but we’ve not seen the same level of uptake among SMEs – the small-medium enterprises that most jobs rely upon for completion. And, given that so many projects rely on them, it’s essential that this sector of the industry gets behind the initiative.
Regional BIM Workshops
The Government itself has been very proactive in providing information and direction to the industry itself. UKGov have set out their delivery requirements and are working with the industry to develop standards to ensure we can achieve these within the timescale set out.
Under the auspices of the Construction Industry Council, they have set out a series of BIM Focus events around the country to promote the initiative to a wider audience. These free half-day workshops are designed to educate attendees on all things BIM, with presentations on Government policy from members of the BIM task group, advice on how to get in touch with the new ‘BIM Hubs’, local case studies which show how BIM is impacting your region and of course the chance to network with BIM-positive fellow professionals and take discreet notes on their best practices.
The events are also your chance to find out more about your nearest BIM Hub. These 11 centres were set up by the CIC in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Wrexham, Nottingham, Cambridge, Coventry, Exeter, Bristol, Cardiff, Northampton, London and Belfast in order to spread the word about BIM in their area and drive adoption of best practices. The BIM Focus events are part of this, but they’re also a chance for you to find out more about how the BIM hubs will work in your area and get involved with shaping their future.
The BIM Focus events are effectively the inaugural meeting of the BIM Hubs. The attendees of the Focus events are invited to volunteer to form the management team of the Hub, which becomes a local self-help/knowledge sharing/collaboration group with information links to the UKGov BIM Task Group, and will become the local information source for BIM information within different regions.
Open BIM and the rise of affordable software
BIM adoption amongst SMEs has been held back due to the perceived cost of investment in the technology around BIM. Whilst BIM is a collaborative process, it is expected that adopters do invest in 3D information modelling solutions to communicate their designs.
Collaboration within the industry requires interoperability between different modeling tools, and an Open BIM solution where we can transfer data between different vendor solutions is essential. The level of investment required is quite significant for smaller organisations and the choice of vendor solution is crucial – no-one wants to adopt the “Betamax” solution. Without interoperability we won’t know which horse to back and we can’t make an informed decision, so we tend not to do anything.
However, recent developments in software have reduced the investment level so that it is now easier for smaller companies to get started with BIM. Autodesk have released an entry level BIM solution, Revit LT, that is aimed at the smaller companies and is pitched at an affordable price point. Revit LT does not enjoy the collaborative tools of its big brother, but the modelling functionality of Revit LT and the competitive price will hopefully encourage many more SMEs to get on board.
Another vendor, Nemetschek Vectorworks, have recently released their new 2013 version of Vectorworks Architect, which offers their architectural customers access to many more BIM tools than the previous version. Unlike Revit, Vectorworks runs on both Windows and Mac platforms, and can be an effective, low cost CAD and BIM solution for cross-platform environments.