Big BIM and Little BIM
—a significant difference
Since ecobuild, business has gone into overdrive. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its growth forecast for the UK to 2.9% in 2014, making it the fastest growing economy in the G7 and everybody we talk to seems to mirror this optimistic view of business for 2014.
Since then, I have attended two events which have served to illustrate the difference between established adopters of BIM workflows and those who are still looking in from the outside and wondering what, if anything, BIM can offer them.
The first session I attended was an update of how BIM is being incorporated on large projects. The session was hosted by David Philp, Head of BIM at Mace Group, and the Head of BIM implementation at the Cabinet Office. For David and teams like his, working on large, often Governmental projects, working with a BIM approach is assumed. The benefits of designing in 2D & 3D have been taken onboard and increasingly well-practised.
The major gain for these projects now is very much the “I” in BIM. The drive to efficiency and cost saving is now all about design for manufacture, enabling as much as possible to be manufactured/assembled off-site. It is about collecting the information necessary to help schedule materials and resources to deliver the 20% overall project cost savings that have been predicted by using BIM. To that end, a lot of work is ongoing to enable COBIE to become a comprehensive repository and reporting tool for such projects. As David says “COBIE is about what, not how.” The great news to architects and designers is that information demanded by COBIE is a subset of the wider IFC data that objects can hold. So anyone running an IFC compatible design tool already has a head start in providing this information. Certainly Vectorworks Architect users know that any of the architectural tools/objects they use automatically has an IFC record attached and they don’t have to worry about assigning the information. In addition, the NBS BIM Library is a great and growing resource for IFC objects pre-populated with the manufacturer’s information already in IFC format. We have many users who are already using this capability to collaborate with other users of other software on projects already.
However, while the NBS BIM survey 2013 suggests that 39% of users are already using BIM workflows and working in 3D, my practical experience of providing RIBA accredited CPD sessions to smaller Architects suggests that a large proportion of these practices are not on the road to BIM. Hence, the “BIM: the small practice perspective” session in Edinburgh was another event organised by RIBA to address this issue. The attendees, like many other practices I have met, are unsure of what BIM has to offer them. Currently they are working in a 2D only environment, with some 3D visualisation provided by products like SketchUp. However, as the day unfolded, with talks on how BIM is developing and the opportunity this presents, followed by demonstrations, the benefits of a BIM approach started to become apparent. For many, seeing how easily Vectorworks Architect could create a single model with information attached, was a revelation. The capability then of using the 3D model to generate 2D elevations, sections and plans showed efficiencies to be gained immediately, whilst automatic attachment of IFC records and data, indicated the way forward on larger multi-disciplinary projects.
For many smaller practices, a move to BIM is a source of worry and fear, but these sessions are useful for helping to dispel misconceptions about BIM and enable people to understand the true benefits. You can find us at two more of these sessions on May 1st in London and May 9th in Sheffield. We look forward to seeing you there.