The U.K. mandate for the implementation of Level 2 BIM on all government infrastructure projects by 2016 is “unachievable.” This is the conclusion of an industry survey conducted by Pinsent Masons LLP, a U.K. law firm that provides advisory services for construction, engineering and other sectors.
The firm surveyed representatives of 70 different organizations in the U.K. infrastructure industry. The results are striking:
- 64% believe that the government’s 2016 target is unrealistic.
- 94% believe that the implementation of BIM requires collaboration between the owner and the construction project team.
- 27% believe that the lack of collaboration is the most significant barrier to the implementation of Level 2 BIM.
- 66% believe that current industry contracts and approaches are not conducive to BIM implementation.
- 69% believe that existing contracts fail to address project collaboration in the use of BIM.
Chris Hallam, a partner in Pinsent Masons’ Projects, Construction and Engineering team, cites construction contracts as the primary culprit in limiting the effectiveness of project collaboration:
“The overriding message from our survey points to greater collaboration if BIM is to be a success…The problem is that the majority of construction contracts are not very collaborative. Risk tends to be allocated in a binary manner, with each party incentivised to look after its own interests – rather than the wider interests of a project. Because the parties’ interests are rarely aligned, this tends not to create an environment where true collaboration is possible – at least not if things go wrong. BIM, however, by its very nature requires a more collaborative environment.”
What is Level 2 BIM?
According to the publicly available specification from the British Standards Institute (BSI) – PAS 1192-2:2013 (page ix) – Level 2 BIM requirements include “provision of a single environment to store shared asset data and information, accessible to all individuals who are required to produce, use and maintain it” and “the shared use of individually authored models in a common data environment.”
The Level 2 BIM specification also cites technology approaches to the provision of information models in a single environment, which include:
- “Web-based file sharing applications or sophisticated enterprise bridge software”
- “Disciplined-based software, with individual proprietary databases” and “associated design analysis software” that have limited or full interoperability
- “Single source platform software, with a single external relational database, and associated design analysis software that are fully interoperable.”
All of this sounds like BIM management and collaboration to us.
Can BIM Technology Influence Project Culture?
Chris Hallam believes that the U.K. construction industry isn’t collaborating effectively today, due to contract limitations on project team behavior, and that BIM technology could change that:
“Technology is driving change in the way we communicate with and connect to each other…It could be that BIM and associated technological advances are fostering a more connected, communicative and joined-up approach. This could be a catalyst that finally drives the construction sector towards a truly collaborative way of working. If so, it is inevitable that forms of contract will need to change to accommodate new ways of working.”
Martin Roberts, a partner in Pinsent Masons’ Construction Advisory and Disputes Group, corroborates this view:
“The benefits are clear and the construction industry acknowledges that it can achieve better efficiency and transparency on infrastructure projects. It is however inevitable that there will be some concern when adopting different approaches, particularly one which by necessity requires greater collaboration and connectivity between members of the construction team. But the potential benefits that can be gained from BIM should far outweigh the dangers, and in the round will probably operate to reduce the overall risk profile.”
Construction Collaboration in the U.K.
In our experience, the U.K. construction industry is no stranger to project collaboration. Here are a few notable examples:
- North West Cambridge Development
- Battersea Power Station
- London Trocadero Hotel
- Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
- The Savoy
- London Overground Rail network
- National Health Service facilities
- Pioneer Point
- Silverstone Wing
- IKEA Wembley
- Luton schools
- Victoria Square
- Altnagelvin Hospital
- St. Helena Airport.
In view of these cases, we can’t help but wonder whether Pinsent Masons’ comments on collaboration challenges refer to U.K. construction projects generally or U.K. BIM infrastructure projects specifically.
BIM Construction Projects: Reduced Risk, Higher Quality
Where we do agree with Pinsent Masons is in the power of BIM to improve construction project delivery. The firm’s industry survey ranks the three major benefits of effective BIM implementation as follows:
- Better design production processes (cited by 63% of respondents)
- Risk mitigation through better on-site clash detection and/or health and safety risk reduction (57%)
- Greater clarity and transparency for asset owners (46%).
We also agree that effective BIM implementation depends on collaboration between the different organizations that make up design and construction teams working together on projects.
And we believe that with the right construction management software, BIM collaboration for infrastructure projects is achievable – per the guidelines of the Level 2 BIM specification – not only in the U.K., but around the world.
Talk to Us about Your BIM Projects
For a broader perspective on the global state of BIM, check out McGraw Hill Construction’s SmartMarket Report, The Business Value of BIM for Construction in Major Global Markets.
If you’re still figuring out Level 1 BIM and what it means for your construction projects – before even thinking about Level 2 BIM – you can go back to basics at “What is BIM?”
And for insight into how collaboration can improve the performance of your BIM projects, download our free eBook – BIM: Breaking Down the Barriers – and contact us today for a demo of Aconex construction management software.
Pinsent Masons Logo Image: Pinsent Masons LLP
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