2nd May 2017

BIM: Laying the Foundations for the Construction Future

In a recent event hosted at Tangerine, Paul Surin, Head of Built Environment at Wienerberger, spoke on the importance of BIM for manufacturers in the construction sector as part of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG) seminar series. After attending the event, Jo Hart, Senior B2B Account Director, shares Paul’s words of wisdom…

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been lauded as revolutionary for the construction sector. With key projects like HS2 expected to make £250m worth of savings thanks to BIM, what is it about the approach that will make it so important to the industry in future?

“Every project is 2.5 times designed and 1.5 times built,” said Paul, suggesting that by having a greater insight into the design and construction process from the beginning, savings can be made down the line.

Mapping BIM against RIBA’s Plan of Work, Paul said it allows the supply chain to understand the needs of a project from “stage 0/1 even down to the last nail.” And critically, where the approach has been used, it has saved 30% on costs and has been 40% quicker on build times.

But as well as saving money and time, a major benefit of BIM is the greater insight and traceability it offers through more data. “A lot of businesses in construction are very primitive…[BIM] allows you to understand the consumer experience more…and track from factory floor, to site and use,” added Paul.

So, for BIM to work to its full potential for the supply chain, what are the barriers to its implementation?

Think of the bigger (BIM) picture
Because of the commercial opportunities of BIM and the intense focus given to it within our industry, sales teams and marketers have been quick to respond, and have jumped on the BIM bandwagon. Paul agrees with this assessment to an extent, saying that BIM has been used as a marketing tool when really it’s more operational.

By rushing to create things like BIM objects for example, manufacturers have lost sight of the practicalities. “There’s no digital language at the moment. Things can’t talk to each other and can’t handle the integration,” said Paul. Giving an example, Paul shared that for instance, an object for a single brick could be 6 MB so, when it feeds into a whole house or building design, it quickly becomes unmanageable.

The bigger BIM picture, Paul believes, is about collaboration, but right now, we’re still working in silos and many of the fundamentals are still wrong.

While bricks and blocks are still key to construction, for Paul, data: “is the raw material of the 21st century”. Importantly, manufacturers and the rest of the supply chain, need to be prepared to work to a shared standard.

Concluding, Paul said that the biggest barrier to the effective implementation of BIM is sharing of information. “If you look at Facebook or Spotify, for instance, sharing is the future.”