Image Capture - NBS 2017
Image credits: RIBA Enterprises Ltd © 2017

Over a year on from the BIM 2016 government mandate and what’s changed? Not much on first glance at the recent NBS National BIM Survey 2017. Dig a little deeper though and a quiet transformation seems to be taking place one year on. It appears slow, painful, taking two steps forward and one step back but the BIM revolution is quietly rumbling away ready to take the next push onward.

Key points to note from the survey include:

  • When asked what the key barriers are to BIM adoption, 65% of respondents stated ‘No client demand’. The survey doesn’t clarify whether the lack of demand is from Government bodies alone, but the industry media consensus at present very much suggests this applies right across the board irrespective of whether they are private or public bodies.
  • Over a third of those attempting to implement the process of BIM are not clear on what they have to do to comply with the BIM mandate. One issue came up repeatedly: clients are not sufficiently educated to allow the BIM mandate to flourish fully. This is not just among clients commissioning smaller works; it is among government departments too.

Nevertheless, positives can be gleaned from the study to suggest the mandate is heading in the right direction:

  • BIM adoption has reached a high point this year. This suggests the efficiency gains in productivity, accuracy and stakeholder/project team engagement for consultants and the supply chain are becoming clearer for all to see.
  • 70% of respondents feel that BIM will help bring cost reduction in the design build and maintain life cycle. Sixty per cent see that BIM will help bring programme efficiencies, reducing time from inception to completion.
  • BIM awareness stands at 97%, with 62% of practices now actually using BIM on some of their projects, up from 8% from last year. It should be noted that interpretations of what exactly defines BIM is not at all common/consistent across the industry at present. I’d imagine that some of respondents in this 97% consider using BIM authoring software in isolation as being sufficient.
  • BIM maturity (Confidence levels): a majority of respondents describe themselves as confident in BIM. Fifty-five per cent being confident and 23% are not.
  • Seventy per cent responded that they had reached Level 2; this is the mandated level in which 3D models are created and collaborated on through, for example, a federated BIM model. As per comments above, this figure is debatable in the absence of an assessment against full BIM Level 2 compliance.

Judging by some of the results emerging from this survey, the transition to BIM Level 2 will likely take place in a more ad hoc and piecemeal/learning-on-the-go fashion in the short-term. Adoption across the industry and Clients especially appears not as structured as the government and industry BIM protagonists would like. The confusion surrounding what BIM Level 2 compliance requires may be in part to do with the vast amount of documentation associated with achieving compliance and it requires those who are (or willing to be) specialists in Information Management to champion it forcefully right from the top to bottom(vice-versa) of organisations. Simply put, it could be argued that a lot of consultants and client representatives alike are not particularly enthused with the idea of taking on the information management (PIM & TIM) roles associated with the process; not to mention the time and costs associated with adoption whilst attempting to deliver a live project.

This is reasoning may be emphasised by the survey results showing 75% of respondents replied that they were learning about BIM adoption and implementation mostly from their colleagues and therefore not relying on published standards and specifications.

To conclude, adopting BIM Level 2 standards clearly is not easy. It involves changing workflow methods and procedures and a adopting a collaborative project culture. However, those that have taken on the challenge have found it to be beneficial and the survey suggest only 4% of respondents wished they hadn’t started the process of transition towards a fully BIM compliant workflow. I do believe that questions need to be asked, now more than ever, on how to make BIM Level 2 compliance more ‘user friendly’ for both consultants and client bodies alike, so the industry can deliver the truly collaborative, efficient process and end-user benefits intended.

For access to the full survey report please click here – NBS BIM Survey 2017

Lanre Gbolade, @LGboladeBIM Enthusiast, Architect & Design Management Professional


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