Bouygues: “The state will be a driving force in the establishment of” BIM

Credit: Bouygues
Credit: Bouygues

In the first article as a result of our brand new partnership with French construction innovatino webzine, Innov2b, we are delighted to present to you an interview with BIM Coordinator at Bouygues UK, Ghislain Quenet.

Ghislain discusses the impact of Building Information Modelling on Bouygues, the positive outcomes for society thanks to the process’ implementation, and how important the upcoming French Government mandate of BIM for public sector projects.

Could you briefly explain what BIM is?

Simply put: The primary goal of Building Information Modelling is to model a building project (in my case) before construction has started, in order to anticipate the different design issues that arise too often on site.

As everyone knows, the more we advance in time, the more of a project is built and the harder it is to find a solution to solve a design problem. Often nowadays the money is less and less and the solutions are becoming increasingly expensive.

The idea was based on the fact that man always visualize things better in 3D than in 2D. So why not create a 3D model that would be a perfect copy of the project’s reality? Furthermore, how good would a model be where we found both the concrete structural engineering part for the model, dressing and fitting for the architectural part and the various networks (electrical, HVAC, plumbing) for the technical part? By joining them and modeling the specifics of each job, then one could notice some inconsistencies (for example, a ventilation duct positioned too high so it enters a concrete beam or a cable tray).

And then, when you have a 3D model that would be the exact copy of the real project, several applications come from this:

– Why not learn as much information about each element that constitutes the model as possible? One would find both the physical, chemical, acoustic, energy, etc. This is Information Modelling.

– From this information, why not submit the filled model in an acoustic calculation software package? Energy? Structural? This will therefore serve the section Studies.

– But if one has information on physical, chemical, structural objects or if you have information on the lifespan of the technical elements within the architectural model, why not be alert when they require an audit? This will serve Maintenance.

– But given that 3D is always better visualisation than 2D, why not create animations or even travel within the model to improve understanding? This is the Communication section.

– If we have information on the amounts of concrete, reinforcement, lengths, areas, volumes, why not export this model to have a cost estimate? This will therefore serve the Price Studies.

– Finally, if we can anticipate design errors, so we will save money and avoid being too wasteful, this is a fantastic example of Lean Construction.

Under what circumstances do you have the opportunity to use BIM in your work?

I work at Bouygues UK (a subsidiary of Bouygues B√Ętiment International which operates in the UK) as BIM Coordinator. Briefly, I coordinate BIM models. In other words, I get 3D models of various trades and I highlight major design problems which may affect the architectural, technical and structural parts.

When actors are kept informed of these problems, they must modify and update their model by proposing a variant that must be validated. If the solution to the design problem is considered admissible, it is validated and thus a problem on site has been avoided. If that is denied, however, another must find the problem and solve it. This work therefore requires both an actual ability to communicate with stakeholders but also with the construction teams to keep them informed of progress.

Why did you integrate BIM in your daily work?

BIM has revealed new aspects of construction: exponential evolution of high-performance software that enables an impressive time saving (moving away more and more of the good old days of 2D AutoCAD even if it remains essential), new technologies (augmented reality, virtual reality, automatic location of survey points, reconstruction of existing buildings with a simple overview of drone and video capture, 3D mouse, tables and collaborative screens). It may look all fun and games but it has an high added value in terms of communication.

Do you think that this tool has improved productivity or presented any benefit to society?

Of course! Although I admit that implementing BIM in my team has not easy because it requires to completely revise the working methods and establish an impressive amount of documents so all users communicate and work with a single voice. It is undeniable that BIM has helped the company to save time and money. But BIM also helped bring together the various actors through exchanges essential for the implementation of this new process. The first feedback of different companies using BIM in their projects agree with this.

Sylvia Pinel (French Minister of Housing and Territorial Equality) announced, “We will gradually make the digital model obligatory in public procurement state in 2017”. What do you think of this obligation?

It is always important to set a deadline because otherwise some would take their time when things could have been done much more quickly. Moreover, it is clear that even with such a deadline, all businesses are not completely ready and that’s understandable because, as I said, adopting BIM takes time.

There is no one way to do BIM, one way to model but every company must find its identity and the way to proceed that corresponds to its working methods and personality. The idea to start with the procurement of state can be good as they relate to all kinds of projects; it shows that the state will be a driving force in the establishment of this new process.

Read more content from Innov2b over at their official website.

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