BIM - Demonstration dispels disillusionment

27 February 2017

By Callum Rodgers

Aquenta: The idea of BIM has been around since the 70’s and anyone who has skimmed the literature that surrounds it will be aware of just how well documented and researched the concept is; often to the point of saturation. Having read Johnathan Brown’s excellent article about BIM’s much hyped adoption within Australia I couldn’t help but reflect on my experiences within the Hype Cycle.

For my final year dissertation, I researched barriers and drivers of adoption for BIM within South Australia. The conclusions I reached validated much of the existing research and many of the drivers discovered identified a substantial improvement to the ‘iron triangle’ of time, cost and quality. Despite this, my own qualitative research indicated how few businesses were utilising BIM due to barriers such as a lack of awareness, training or resources; which prevent or slowed widespread adoption.

Even with clear demonstrations of the value of BIM adoption, it is self-evident that there remains resistance despite the value that can permeate into the day-to-day function of a construction project. This is reasonable as commercial pressures predictably dominate decision making in the adoption of most new technologies, notwithstanding that an overarching and holistic approach to implementation is generally preferable.

Unsurprisingly, these economics influenced my initial experiences and, in spite of my research, played into my own reservations about the practical use of BIM in its current form. After some initial familiarisation, I found that even when only used to a limited capacity for cost management services, the evidence of efficiency was immediate. In a number of instances, using a model has allowed us to generate 80% building quantities in just a few minutes. This kind of productivity has immediate flow-on effects for client and designer alike and has enabled us to more predictably gauge design value, better analyse tenders and improve communication between all parties.

My more recent experience within a commercial contracting environment has highlighted how this can be further utilised. For example, these immediate quantities are being used as high-level inputs for project controls to evaluate the efficiency of expended man hours and to predict future productivity. This is then being used as the basis for contract extension and is providing an important avenue of analysis for prospective work output and evaluations of constructability.

One of the key findings of my study on the drivers of BIM is the desire for cost savings and with this kind of first-hand example of tangible productivity it becomes far easier to appreciate the potential of the technology. Certainly the implications for integrated businesses like Aquenta are already evident, as a multidisciplinary approach allows productivity to be maximised for the benefit of clients and project teams alike.

If it’s not already clear, my initial reservations have well and truly been dispelled by practical examples that match academic conclusions. In short; seeing is believing and at the risk of sounding evangelistic, it is clear this is only the beginning. As more people and businesses demonstrate and share what can be gained with this technology its uptake will also increase, in-turn leading to greater capabilities.

Whether the industry is currently in a state of disillusionment or enlightenment likely depends on perspective and for most people this is shaped by personal interaction. As someone who has had the benefit of this and seen the productive potential it’s exciting to see these ideas become reality – for myself as a professional at the beginning of his career and for the wider construction industry, as the long held dream of BIM becomes reality.




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