For BIM to be truly an industry-wide platform it cannot be developed in isolation, we need the participation of as many of us as possible

Trevor Miles

Much has already been written about the benefits of BIM and the desirability of using it for a wide range of projects and clients. How can we accelerate the achievement of BIM at Level 2, while providing good foundations for progressing to Level 3 and beyond? Based on our experiences at IBM and discussions with major contractors and clients the following are needed:

1.        Collaboration – solutions need to be developed which break-down organisational boundaries to information transfer and enable team-based work (as Richard Saxon’s recent posting) and overcome the restrictions arising from certain procurement and contracting rules contained in some current public contracts (as identified by Mark Bew).  

2.        Federation – the ability to access, share and consume data needs to be independent of the format of the documents. Further this information needs to be structured and easy to find.

3.        Cloud based and mobile access – data needs to be accessible from anywhere on a wide variety of devices to meet the needs of professionals, whether in the office or out on site and be as device inter-operable as possible.

4.        Learning – we need to draw lessons from previous experience in other industries such as aviation and automotive that have used digital methods to guide design and product development for much longer than we have with buildings.

5.        Appropriate information – the support and information given needs to be appropriate to the building life-cycle stage whether that is at a point in construction or when the building is in use. To encourage “soft-landings” information requirements need to be identified up-front. This is an example of where we can learn from a systems engineering approach to requirements management, verification and validation.

6.        Analytic tools – should be available to add value to the information contained and help to optimise decisions based on it.

7.        Up-front investment – needs to be minimised to reduce the strain on budgets and to link the use of the tool to the value derived from it.

8.        Clear process – new tramlines are needed to guide the flow of our work at each stage and the technology needs to be able to support and streamline this.

9.        New legal constructs – this links to the first point. These should take into account issues of intellectual property and liability. This will be needed as we move from federation of individual models to collaborative working on the same model.

10.        Human dimension – the needs of us as individuals to be able to access training and to be helped through the inevitable concerns and changes in working practices should be catered for.

With this in mind, we see a widely supported industry platform for BIM as the way forward. Rather than being developed in isolation this should be created with the active participation of the industry and the world of technology focusing in particular on those areas and issues that will generate the most benefit.

If we can achieve a wide coalition then we really can make a step change in the way in which BIM is being rolled-out and stand a much better chance of reaping the supply chain-wide and building lifecycle-long efficiencies that BIM enables.

Trevor Miles is the smarter buildings, real estate and facilities management consulting lead at IBM Global Business Services, UK and Ireland