BIMcrunch Editorial: Embrace The Future or Embrace Defeat

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For today’s Editorial, I wanted to address an issue that is gaining ground within the Building Information Modelling community. However, there is definitely still room for improvement and by showcasing some of the best outlets available surrounding the matter, hopefully you and your company may consider following suit.

Whilst BIM is very much a future normality and is here to stay (especially due to the UK Government’s 2016 Level 2 mandate), there still seems to be a generational divide that is currently prohibiting the industry from capturing the maximum value of BIM. One reason for this divergence is a sense-of-the-unknown and a worry that it won’t be worth the time it takes to invest, which I have discussed in a past instalment of the Editorial. Today, I will address the other issue surrounding BIM – training.

It’s safe to say that a lot of experienced architects are apprehensive at the thought of being re-trained, or training new starters due to the potential cost of becoming technologically literate. To put it bluntly, the Government support the implementation of BIM and it is going to stay. Soon, BIM will be as much of a formality as bricks and mortar. Companies need to either embrace the future or embrace defeat. I know which of those paths I would prefer to take!

Blackpool-based engineering contractor Ameon are a prime example of a company that represent the perfect boundary-pushing ethos that is present within a large area of the architecture, engineering and construction sector today. The company is an SME, typically the type of firm that gets cold feet in regards to BIM adoption. Ameon didn’t. If a company are not heavyweight in-size, surely they have wrestled with the thought of whether BIM adoption would be beneficial. Ameon decided to train six of their managers in BIM and have never looked back.

Ameon’s Managing Director, Robin Lawson believes that the company’s risk certainly paid off. He recently stated: “We invested in BIM and adopted the technology at a time when market conditions were at their most difficult but I view that as a wise move and I see our investment in technology and training now paying dividends.”

Instead of resting on their laurels, Ameon took a chance, as did American architecture practice Tesseract Design. They described BIM as a “leap of faith” that paid off and encouraged other AEC outfits to stop being “very reluctant to dive in to BIM”. My sentiment exactly!

It’s not just architects or construction corporations that are dipping their toes into the proverbial BIM ocean. Product manufacturers are also seeking to expand their knowledge so that their products can be made available to the largest market possible. Although a popular option is to pay for specialist BIM object libraries to create content for a manufacturer (as they are also skilled in object creation), some companies have opted to create their own families. Dunham-Bush create BIM versions of their products on request for customers.

So, your company has decided to finally bite the bullet and use BIM on their projects. How do you become BIM-trained? Thankfully, there are many resources out there that will get you understanding everything from clash detections to IFC. For young upstarts, some recent developments requested by the Government have been praised and are strongly welcomed. The CITB-supported Trailblazer Group have had the go-ahead to create BIM apprenticeships for young people.

In addition to that exciting nationwide opportunity, a more localised training opportunity is available to those living in or nearby to the Midlands. Dudley College is currently receiving a £12 million overhaul as a construction training facility specialising in BIM is in development. Although only a small piece of the worldwide puzzle, this new start-up is incredibly exciting.

Another source of BIM education that students should make sure to check out is The B1M and their B1M University initiative. B1M University comprises of several workshops that are filmed across the UK and then uploaded onto the B1M website. Access to the videos is free and the resource is the ideal platform to visit to enable you to start your BIM journey.

For citizens who are unable to find work and who are not in any form of education, Space Group’s CAMPUS is a fantastic programme aimed at not only enriching the AEC community with BIM competent professionals, but also helps people get back into work. A positive initiative that stands out from the crowd.

If you are an architect that has already practiced in the industry for 20 years, what steps can you take to become BIM savvy? It’s not just newcomers into the industry that should study and operate BIM tools and systems. Recently, bimstore held a masterclass that taught manufacturers everything they needed to know about creating content. The sessions drew great feedback, with one trainee noting that the experience was “really informative”.

Another similar workshop series of events has been held in London at the University of Westminster. Tutors such as Digital Node‘s Rebecca De Cicco were on-hand to energise attendees and teach them how to use Autodesk’s flagship products, Navisworks and Revit.

BIM Academy is another outlet where interested parties of any age can participate in training to improve their employability, knowledge and skillset. An Autodesk Authorised Training Centre, BIM Academy are based at Northumbria University and recently launched their own asset and facilities management division after they carried out successful work on the Sydney Opera House. Once they knew they would effectively carry out the task themselves, they sought to share their knowledge with others.

Another company who were also inspired to drive change within the industry is Niven Architects. Niven engaged in a successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Teesside University alongside Innovate UK (who partly funded the project) to enable them to adopt BIM processes within their work. Following the two-year KTP, Niven set up a new company named BIM Strategy Ltd, a company whose work mirrors the tutelage that the KTP offered.

In closing, I hope more businesses like Niven Architects can motivate their customers to become BIM-enabled. bimstore create content as a business, yet still hosted a workshop that trained their potential customers how to create their own content and better themselves. This teamwork reflects the most important element of using BIM – collaboration. If more businesses who are ahead of the competition are sharing their knowledge and more SMEs throw caution to the wind, then the field will be a more competitive and fulfilled industry as a whole. Your team may have to become Autodesk certified or you have to spend a little to get the foundations in place, yet a little can go a long way. There are many ways to get yourselves ready for 2016; it’s now up to you to make it happen.

RELATED: BIM Voice: Connect Talk BIM Education – “Training That Pays”

Check out Jack’s past Editorial entries by clicking here.

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