There’s lots of optimism about what BIM can offer – but it is far from being fully integrated in the industry yet


The BIM Show Live closed yesterday with, as you would expect, a resounding endorsement BIM’s role within the construction industry. The keynote closing address featured rousing BIM support from three big industry heavyweights each representing a key role within the construction process: Balfour Beatty design director Peter Trebilcock and BAM director of BIM Andrew Pryke represented the contractor and Gatwick Airport head of development engineering Rod Hulse represented the client.

Each had a slightly different take on the opportunities presented by BIM. Trebilcock spoke passionately about how BIM has enabled his company to maintain a competitive edge in a brutal market and cited a compelling range of benefits including increased design efficiency, greater client confidence, advanced productivity, sharper engagement and more effective asset management. He revealed that deployment of BIM had shaved an impressive £10m from the Heathrow Terminal 2B project.

Hulse explained the integral role BIM plays in Gatwick’s £1bn capital investment programme highlighting how top-level management engagement was crucial in ensuring that BIM’s benefits, amongst which he listed better design quality and document control, were realised.

Trebilcock revealed that deployment of BIM had shaved an impressive £10m from the Heathrow Terminal 2B project

And Pryke closed with a detailed analysis of the revolutionary role BIM is playing in data collection, asserting that the increased intelligence and operability this is providing for the construction industry in areas ranging from facilities management to safety increasingly enables the industry to match the efficiency and customisation present within in the car industry. Data collection, Pryke believes, will increasingly lay a greater role in the future development of next generation BIM.

All in all, these sentiments aptly reflected a conference full of optimism and excitement at what BIM still has the potential to achieve within the construction industry of the future. All manner of new software packages and processes were on display all ultimately designed to decrease waste within the industry and add value to both the client and the customer.

But, wisely, there was still some honest and robust acknowledgement that BIM still has a long way to go before it is universally integrated into UK construction industry and many speakers and delegates spoke guardedly of the wider “cultural changes” still required before BIM data, and the manifest benefits it affords, becomes accepted practice. 

Perhaps these trepidations were best summed up when Paul Shillcock, director at Operam who ingeniously compared BIM’s perceived uptake levels within the construction industry to the subterfuge commonly surrounding teenage sex: “everybody says they’re doing it and everybody feels as if they should be but when it comes down to it, how many people really are?”