Interview with David Robinson

David Robinson

We caught up with Managing Director of IBSECAD, David Robinson, for our latest ‘Interview with…’ – read on for the full interview.


Name: David Robinson

Company & role: IBSECAD, Managing Director

Employee numbers: 100+


Were you involved in the decision-making stage when your company chose to implement BIM?

We have been in business for 17 years and in the beginning, the service we offered was computer aided design (CAD), and BIM by definition still is Computer Aided Design to some degree. We have evolved from 2D design to 3D modelling about 10-12 years ago. As the software improved we were able to add additional services to our product such as planning (4D), scheduling (5D) and more recently focusing on the lifecycle of the building (6D). So although BIM is fairly new in name, we believe we have been doing it for many years and it wasn’t a case of choosing to implement it – it is what we do. 


How did your company make the transition in adopting BIM practices – have you had to change any internal processes or culture?

The only real change we have noticed with the focus on BIM is that we have had to grow the company to keep up with demand – which is great for us. However, there is now a need for just the BIM management role, so there has beccome two distinct categories: BIM Authoring and BIM Management.

If we are engaged to carry out the BIM Authoring, the management is included by default.

As the industry is just finding its feet with the whole process, there is a danger that the wrong people are being employed as BIM managers. This then becomes a clear additional cost to the project with little or no added benefit.


Can you identify some key projects the business has executed with BIM so far?

I can think of two milestone projects, in particular:


The Royal London Hospital – A major £1.1bn project. It was the first time in our experience a main contractor adopted this process, which involved us working alongside the design team and trades taking on a true BIM approach. It began in 2005 and due to the successful BIM approach we were engaged on two similar projects in the USA.


Davies Street, London– A much smaller scheme but where the Client and Main Contractor were heavily involved. This was the most collaborative BIM approach we have experienced, with all stakeholders involved. We were able to offer all our services, now available, with the improved software. We worked with the whole team from the client and client design team to the main contractor and trades. The significant difference was working closer with the client so rather than just the constructability aspect, it involved peripheral activity including lifecycle analysis and asset management.


What benefits are coming out of using BIM on these projects?

The benefits are predominantly cost certainty and ironing out all design issues at the right time in the design phase. Historically, this was sorted out on site. So BIM de-risks the project before it becomes an issue, meaning there is time saved, greater efficiency and cost savings.

Another benefit is that BIM allows you to go to market with robust information to get more accurate pricing for the project from the trades.


Who do you think should be the primary driver in the BIM implementation process?

I believe it should be the Project Manager initially, as BIM implementation should be done from day one. They should set all of the goals and rules and have responsibility for making them happen. Right now the responsibility lies with the main contractor so in my view without a doubt, this should be with the project manager in the future.


What do you feel are the critical factors in successful implementation of BIM?

First and foremost, it would be employing a third party BIM services provider to do the management and authoring at certain stages.

In the early stages of the design, the architects and engineers need to be doing their own modelling but the third party needs to be creating the federated model. At the beginning they would work with the client and then alongside the design team on the federated model as a facilitator. At a later stage, say Stage D/E, there is a real need to bring construction expertise into the process.This can be achieved by engaging a third party single source modeller with the relevant experience, like IBSECAD.

Another key success factor is as much correct information as early as possible. This is all about getting it right first time and you can only do that with the right information. I know this can be dependant on procurement strategies but getting the right people or manufacturers on board early can reap rewards later.


Has the adoption of BIM changed the design process and, if so, in what way?

Not as much as it should have done, yet! However it’s getting there. The process has only changed in the sense that is more collaborative. This has become much easier with 3D modelling and vastly improved software, ironing out many compatibility issues.

This change to the process will enhance the product that comes out of the design team. Working in a 3D environment means issues can be resolved earlier – in the design phase rather than the construction phase.


Have you any future trend predictions for BIM?

Yes – BIM currently is being carried out predominantly in the construction phase of projects. This needs to flip to much more design-side. Design teams will get the opportunity for increased scopes and have different skill sets added into the stage, or the main contractor would come into the process earlier. This allows you to get much more concrete information ahead of going to tender or construction.


Biggest BIM-related challenges to date?

By a country mile, the biggest challenge is convincing the client to invest the money in BIM upfront. It requires a different mindset for the industry to widely acknowledge that it is not an add-on cost – the money is already being spent further down the line. BIM brings huge cost savings and efficiencies, and there should be no extra cost to the overall project.

As I said earlier there are however all sorts of start-up companies offering BIM advice that does prove an add-on cost without bringing any value. This is a danger that the industry is currently facing as, although it will sort itself out in time, it muddies the water for those doing it properly.

The second main challenge is having the client understand that the process is not adding risk. Nobody is relieved of their traditional responsibilities, and it is not replacing anyone or taking away from what they are doing. It merely acts as a tool to assist and de-risk the project for all involved. 


Biggest business lesson learned to date?

Don’t be scared to try anything new but if it doesn’t work, be quick to act on it.


Your house is on fire – which three material items do you grab?

Phone, wallet and car keys.


Where do you see BIM in ten years’ time?

I see it very much the norm on all projects. I predict that it will sit predominantly with the design team rather than the construction-side as it is now, BIM is for everyone and it will be what everyone expects on every project. It’s here forever.


In another life, which career path would you have pursued?

Easy – a racing driver!…

But seriously I wouldn’t change a thing. I really enjoy what I do. I am passionate about our industry and am extremely proud of IBSECAD’s achievements. The industry is in such an exciting place for us right now, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else… Bring on the next 17 years!




IBSECAD offers a complete BIM solution within the construction industry, bringing design and people together. BIM is our only focus and our business services cater for all project BIM requirements. Founded in 1996, as a leader in our field, we work with Architects, Design Engineers and Builders from early conceptual designs through to project hand over and building life cycle.


We offer practical and viable tools for BIM implementation, to reduce uncertainty. Our skills and expertise create a BIM process with all the data and drawings required to allow major projects to run smoothly and cost effectively.


With 80+ employees, Ibsecad operates worldwide and has offices in London, Leeds, Brisbane, New York and Colombo. Information about Ibsecad can be found here:, @Ibsecad.