Best BIM Bad BIM: Brent Rees

Answered from either a personal or industry-viewpoint perspective, Best BIM Bad BIM sees a member of the #GlobalBIMCrew divulge their best and worst BIM experiences and what they have learned from both.

Following on from sharing his thoughts with us in audio format at Digital Construction Week 2015, today’s interviewee is Brent Rees, Senior Architectural Technologist and BIM Manager at Ridge & Partners. Brent, who is also BIM Champion at the Oxford BIM Region, discusses the AEC industry’s brilliance at creating platforms for professionals to share their experiences.

What does Brent think industry is practising Best at the moment?

I believe UK construction is excelling at a few things under the umbrella of BIM at the moment, but the standout aspect for me is the number of established platforms available to discuss, debate, promote, learn, and develop a digital culture for our multi-faceted industry.

Ranging from the numerous BIM 4 communities, to the BIM2050 Group amongst many others, these networks are fundamental to communicating new ways of working across our diverse range of disciplines, sectors, companies, and personalities. Social media platforms such as Twitter, and discussion threads on LinkedIn are also fantastic outlets to understand latest industry opinion, as well as exemplary videos by The B1M which offer clear and concise advice to cut through the technical jargon.

Add to this the near daily webinars made available by various academic institutions, product manufacturers, software vendors, and media entities; there is no shortage of opportunities to learn about a new aspect of BIM without moving from your desk. Events such as BIM Show Live, Digital Construction Week, and the RICS BIM Conference are further evidence of significant momentum in this space, which is much needed in the efforts to break down barriers and support disruptive technologies and processes.

On reflection, I should probably add BIMcrunch to the list above as well.

What does Brent believe the industry is doing Badly at the moment?

The eternal optimist in me is reluctant to point out anything the industry is doing badly. Although I would say the procurement of, and the overstated promises to deliver BIM, are areas in which the industry could perform better. In my view this stems partly from consistent misuse of the acronym BIM as a noun to describe only a 3D model, when it should really be used as a verb to describe the action, process, or workflow. This is closely related to mixed understandings of what a good L2 BIM process should really look like, despite the release of PAS1192-2 nearly three years ago now, which clearly states its fundamental principles. Not to mention the subsequent PAS/BS and other industry standard documents released in the interim.

The difficulty is encouraging all corners of a very busy industry to read, digest, and apply the contents of such technical documents. We’re certainly much further ahead now than the months succeeding the announcement of the government’s mandate, but there is still significant progress to be made before L2 BIM can be regarded as fully engrained into the working practices of our industry.

What lessons does Brent think can be learned from both Best and Bad?

For all the momentum and good work being carried out by the groups listed above, there is a danger of consistently preaching only to the converted. With all the information and support available to our industry, this really needs to percolate further. My simplistic view is that construction industry designers, some large main contracting outfits, and portions of the non-design orientated consultants are broadly adopting and understanding the nuances of what is required to comply with this year’s mandate.

There are inevitably small pockets within these that may never engage with BIM, and that’s fine, but I feel there are two areas where significant progress needs to be made. The first is the SME end of the supply chain spectrum, particularly those of main contractors, as this forms such a large percentage of the UK construction industry. The success of a fully collaborative process which extends beyond the primary design team would ideally have a BIM literate supply chain at construction stages.

The second is the way in which some projects, consultants, and contractors are still procured with a clear appetite to use BIM, even citing L2 BIM in some cases, but without reference to the staple TLAs – EIR, PIP, or BEP. This will improve, and is already improving, but we should all take ownership, adopt a proactive approach to try and evangelise these practices further.

The recent rebranding of the BIM Regions network has reaffirmed the vision of the group to address some of these issues, by providing an inclusive network to raise positive awareness of all things digital, and to disseminate a consistent and relevant message across the UK and Irish construction industry (and possibly even further). The low-to-no cost events provide an accessible entry point, with some fantastic speakers to learn from and embrace the ever evolving digital developments.

The new website will go live in March, and will provide a useful way-finding platform for the plethora of information available to us, as well as listing all the events taking place across the regions.

If you’re one of the aforementioned converted – get along to your local event and take a colleague/collaborator/client that couldn’t care less about BIM. Hopefully this will mean less preaching to the converted, and provide opportunity to deliver clearer and more consistent advice for the uninitiated.

Connect with Brent on Twitter and LinkedIn by clicking links attached to the aforementioned social media. To learn more about the Oxford BIM Region, visit the official Twitter account.

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