We spoke with Steven Eglinton, Director of GeoEnable about his interpretation of BIM and how it’s going to affect the construction industry in the next 12 months.
2016 is set to be a pivotal year with the introduction of BIM Level 2 in April, how do you think the industry is shaping up for this?
In general well, but it depends what we mean by ‘industry’. What I am an experiencing in the construction sector is a greater awareness of BIM and the opportunities and challenges this brings, particularly around organisational change and training. There is also a lot more BIM-centric events which all seemed to be well attended, which means there is an appetite for these.
Where I would say there is a lack of awareness, or more so clarity for the benefits of BIM longer term, is in the Facilities Management (FM) and to some degree Asset Management (AM) sectors, such as utilities. The Rail and Highways sector in the UK on the whole, are ahead of the curve and understand how BIM will add great value, there are some good examples to look at such as Crossrail. It is critical that more owner-operators and maintenance organisations are involved in defining the information requirements to be derived from projects.
BIM comes with a number of definitions and interpretations, what does BIM mean to you?
To me, BIM should be ensuring that information is contracted as a deliverable through the whole-life of physical assets – buildings and infrastructure – from design, construction, operation and beyond. My background in more in the Opex (operate and maintenance) side of things, so I can see that ‘whole’life’ is talked about a lot, but not enacted.
I am an Information Management and ICT Specialist by trade, but what I would dare to say is that technology issues are the easier part of the equation e.g. data / systems integration. The organisation change and effects on teams and people need to be understood fully. It’s about people, process, technology and information – NOT just technology, not only just 3D models, as you might see on some marketing materials.
If people would like to know more about the wider whole-life planning for ‘Asset Management’ and the context I would suggest people look to read about the standard ISO 55000:2004 ‘Asset management — Overview, principles and terminology’ (descended from the former PAS 55).
How is the introduction of BIM Level 2 going to affect the organisational structure of construction companies?
The short answer is greatly. Across the industry, but Tier 1 contractors more so, Tier 2 and 3 and the whole supply chain will need to feed-in also and this is where we are likely to see a skills gap (further down the supply chain).
How will the current skills shortage affect the implementation of BIM across the industry?
Specially, this is hard to answer directly, because as it depends on the size and type of organisation. It would be in one organisation the organisational structure does not change, but information management, for example, is part of someone’s role and existing people are up-skilled.
In other organisations, larger ones, it might be that dedicated roles are created with specific functions, such as a dedicated Information Manager. In all cases an assessment of organisation capability to perform BIM related activities and processes would indicate where any skills or capability gaps are.
I teach a training course for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) called ‘BIM Implementation – Putting People First’ that is focused on the organisational change challenges we face when implementing BIM.
What does 2016 hold for GeoEnable?
Training – We have been working with a few organisations on training, up-skilling and the organisational change side of BIM, so this is likely to be our ongoing focus.
Messaging – In addition, a lot of our work is helping people communicate internally what the specific needs are for BIM in the first place – getting the message in the right language to the right people, such as the Board, is something we enjoy helping our clients achieve. This is critical for buy-in.
Geospatial – Our roots are based in helping clients manage and use Geographic Information and Geospatial data (such as mapping, survey and CAD). As some aspects of BIM are dependant of spatial data and co-ordination, we are seeing clients ask more advanced questions about what is possible with ‘geospatial information’, which is a great. Geospatial and BIM and interlinked.
Dedicated ‘BIM’ brand – we are developing a division that will be focused purely on BIM. More details to follow on this soon.
April is shaping up to be a big month, not just with the introduction of BIM Level 2, but you’ll also be presenting at North England Build on the topic of “Creating BIM Objects that Help your Business”. How important are events like this to help provide essential knowledge and skills for people working across the construction industry?
Absolutely vital. The biggest challenge is just awareness in the first instance – awareness of what BIM and related concepts can offer and WHY people would want to know more.
In my experience, in speaking to people across many sectors and from all grades, I see huge differences in the strategic vision and reality is some organisation. Things are not aligned, or at least awareness is not aligned.
I think we need more compelling, real world case studies of how ‘BIM’ (collaborative processes, information governance and integrated technologies) have delivered real benefits. So, attending events such as North England Build give people the opportunity to mix with other disciplines and understand what is actually happening in the Construction Industry and where the challenges and opportunities lie.
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