The Fog is Lifting

2013 may go down as the year when BIM came of age and was accepted as the future of the construction industry.

Throughout 2013 there was considerable debate and discussion about standards, protocols and definitions. This debate is needed and has all been very positive. However the challenge for those embracing change and operating in the sector is how to continue to deliver projects in an environment of evolving thinking.


As an example, the digital plan of work was launched last year and the RIBA updated its plan of work to align with this new structure. After a consultation period the RIBA finally settled on new stages using numbers not letters and stages more aligned to contemporary construction and procurement. During the period of change, construction continued and projects were started. Several clients adopted the new stages however as the consultation developed there was confusion as several stages did not align.


The Level of definition also evolved through 2013. As the AIA definition was used on live projects it became clear that it provided insufficient detail to deliver a project. Several of us have grappled with this during 2013 to find an approach and definition with the appropriate level of detail.


We also have the ongoing debate about Uniclass 2 against CAWS which ebbs and flows. We mustn’t forget the debate regarding how New Rules of Measurement will align with Uniclass 2.


For organisations that are working on live projects, the evolving nature of these standards is a hazard. However if you are to be at the leading edge of new thinking it has to be accepted that this is an occupational hazard. The alternative is to wait until everything has settled down and is agreed before embracing change. This is a cautious approach but if you want to make a difference you have to accept some confusion and help to find the right solution.


It is not dissimilar to the cautious IT manager who does not implement new software until the first service pack has been released. At space group we want to be the first to benefit from new thinking so always use new software as soon as it is released. Our IT Director is keen to point out the risk but we believe it’s a risk we have to take.


During 2013 the evolving nature of BIM has made the delivery of some projects a challenge and at times may have been a concern to early adopter clients.


As we move into 2014 I see the fog starting to lift and standards starting to formalise. There are still gaps and discussions, and debate to be had – however there is now greater clarity than we have had for some time. We now have options and formats which can be selected at the outset of a project to suit specific needs. We also have experience from past projects as to what works and what doesn’t.


At BIM.Technologies we have launched B.T14 which is our suite of documents that we will use as our control across all projects. All previous standards and documents have been archived, so all new projects start with a consistent base line.


These standards can and will be adjusted for specific projects but we now review the changes and discuss the reasons for them. For example B.T14 adopts the new digital plan of work to define work stages. Some clients may feel the original plan of work is more appropriate so we are able to document and implement this change and communicate across the team.


As these standards are increasingly standardised, the early adopters must remember to quantify the value which we have theorised about for over the past few years. We must measure and report outputs so we are able to repay the trust of those early adopter clients who committed to BIM.


2014 will be the year when BIM becomes embedded into construction. There will be two types of company: there will be those who invest and who will move forward; and those who decide not to. Those who decide not to will fall behind and find it increasingly difficult to complete.


By Rob Charlton.


Read Rob’s previous article here: