Setting a standard aims to avoid the delays, costs and conflicts which arise but some industry bodies are developing their own
The government’s BIM task groups have made efforts to set standards for the adoption of BIM. However, despite the aim of regulation, these standards seem to be coming secondary to a more diverse approach.
The start of this standardisation was BS 1192:2007, the British Standard that establishes the methodology for managing the production, distribution and quality of construction information. The subsequent PAS standards, such as PAS1192:2 & 3, contain the specification for information management, using Building Information Modelling and build on the BS 1192. These standards are applicable to all parties involved in the preparation and use of information throughout the project lifecycle and supply chain.
Setting a standard aims to avoid the delays, costs and conflicts which arise through poorly prepared and co-ordinated construction information. Through these standards the information is organised within a Common Data Environment (CDE) in which information is classified as work in progress, shared, published and archive. Another purpose of having an industry standard is to bring more consistency, rigor and uniformity to the dissemination of information whether graphical or non-graphical.
With these benefits in mind it may come as a surprise to learn that different industry bodies are developing their own standards based on these documents, changing the process to suit their particular business drivers. Even some significant public sector bodies have gone as far as either publishing or are about to publish their own suite of data sharing protocols, with some private bodies also adopting their own standards.
Some public sector bodies have gone as far as publishing their own suite of data sharing protocols, with some private bodies also adopting their own standards
I have no argument against a business adopting or developing their own protocols – however, it needs to be considered that this could potentially have the unintended consequence of diluting the quality assurance aspects of compliance with the BS and PAS. It also leads to a multifaceted approach rather than a standardised one, allowing the BS to become a reference document not a standard for adoption.
These potential consequences have been raised with certain government advisers as I don’t think this is what was intended when the standards were designed. However, it is headed in that direction.
This became very evident to me when a series of CDE vendors demonstrated different approaches to managing information, based on client led methodologies. They were surprised to learn that whilst they all intended to fully comply with BS and PAS standards, they had inadvertently strayed away from some of the core processes in meeting client needs.
Thankfully, each vendor stated their flexibility to adapt and change their system to suit particular compliance needs. However, surely the clients ought to be advised to adopt a core compliant recognised standard then add to it if absolutely necessary, but not dilute it?
The challenge for the BIM industry will be to understand how to work with a single standard which is being applied in many different ways. The challenge for the government may be in accepting and managing such a diverse range of applications.
Peter Trebilcock chairs Balfour Beatty’s UK-wide design community of practice and its UK BIM Steering Group