Excitement is building at the Construction IT Alliance as the date of the 2015 CITA BIM Gathering fast approaches.
By Cian Molloy
The CITA BIM Gathering is the annual key note event for all those interested in using Building Information Modelling (BIM) to increase efficiency and competitiveness or to learn how being BIM proficient can help win you business in Ireland and overseas. Building on the success of last year’s Gathering, this year’s event is strengthened by the fact that it takes place within the context of the Irish Design 2015 initiative, which aims to strengthen the perception of Ireland being a place of outstanding design ability.
In fact, the CITA BIM Gathering has a three-fold function, says Dr Alan Hore, one of the association’s founders: “It’s an international conference with international delegates and guest speakers. It’s primary function is to showcase Ireland as a place to do BIM business, where we have the expertise to construct modern buildings with cutting edge technology – examples of this would include the Kerry Food’s world class R+D facility in Naas and the new planned Children’s Hospital at St James’s in Dublin.
“Secondly, the role of the conference is to underline the importance of BIM and its application in the transformation of the Irish construction industry into a more efficient and cost-effective industry. Thirdly, the conference allows us to share and confer with the global BIM community about developments around the world and on new innovations in the way BIM is being used – there will be quite a number of international papers presented.”
Already a prestigious list of speakers has been lined up, including: Dr Bill East, who has been a champion of national BIM standards in the United States, especially Construction-Operations Building information exchange (COBie); Dr Frederic Bosche, a lecturer in construction project management at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University where he also researches sensing and information technology applications in the AEC sector; Dr. Arto Kiviniemi, Professor of Digital Architectural Design at the School of Architecture in the University of Liverpool, who has been has developing integrated BIM in Finland and the UK for nearly two decades; and Léon Van Berlo, who is involved in the Open Source BIM Collective and in BIM R&D at TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, in the Hague.
The overall theme of the Gathering is ‘An Integrated Future’ and is being held at the Gibson Hotel in the Point Village, Dublin, on Thursday and Friday November 12 and 13.
Smarter Building Series 2015
In the meanwhile, CITA’s programme of ‘Smarter Building’ breakfast briefings on the PAS 1192 set of standards being used in the UK. These standards have been arrived at by fast-track development by the BSI working with UK construction organisations in order to have the ground rules necessary to achieve the British government’s very ambitious target of having Level 2 BIM on all centrally-funded public construction projects from 2016 onwards.
Level 2 BIM is a managed 3D environment that can also use 4D construction sequencing and/or 5D costing information. The managed 3D environment is held in separate BIM tools by separate disciplines (architecture, engineering, quantity surveying, specialist subcontractor, etc) involved in a project, with each discipline attaching its relevant data to the 3D environment held in its own version of the 3D environment.
So far, CITA have held two of six ‘Smarter Building’ breakfast briefings at the Radisson Blue in Dublin by CITA, the most recent being in April on the ‘Information Requirements’ involved in PAS 1192 and one was due to take place on ‘Information Management’ on Wednesday June 17, as Irish Building magazine went to press. The next event after that is on ‘Execution Planning’ on Thursday July 16, followed by a briefing on ‘Contract Protocols’ on Wednesday September 16th.
While the Smarter Building meetings follow a logical sequence and build upon their predecessors, there is a growing interest in these events and a growing number of attendees at the meetings – there were more than 80 at the information requirements meeting where the speakers comprised Anna Thompson of Turner & Townsend, the UK construction industry consultancy, cost managers and quantity surveyors, who spoke on the ‘Key steps to a successful Employers Information Requirement (EIR) document’; Ralph Montague of BIM specialists Arcdox who spoke on ‘Why the EIR’; and Michael Murphy, BIM Manager with the BAM Group who spoke on ‘The CHAOS Theory’, or how a lack of agreed protocols in a BIM collaboration leads to disarray.
In a BIM project, the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) form part of the appointment and tender documents and the EIR defines what the information requirements will be on each stage of the project, plus the required level of detail on each stage of that project from tendering through construction to operation.
In his briefing, Michael Murphy of BAM Group explained: “In every project, BIM or otherwise, something somewhere will go wrong and you will need to be able to recover from that and ideally to be able to recover from it easily and speedily. If you are all working with the same data sets and the same file formats, then that recovery will involve less delay and less confusion. A good EIR prevents the creation of a chaotic situation!”
Ralph Montague of Arcdox said: “Anybody who tenders for design or construction services, needs to demonstrate that they have understood the employer’s information requirements, by producing a pre-contract BIM Execution Plan (BEP), complete with BIM capability Assessments, in response to the EIR. To help the client assess pre-contract BEP’s, we would highly recommend that a template is provided for designer and contractors to complete, otherwise you will get a wide variety of responses, from a single paragraph to a 50-page document, which will make it difficult to compare and assess.
“Once appointed, the project information manager, who will typically be the lead consultant, will assemble the post-contract BIM Execution Plan for design stage, together with the team, and maintain that for the duration of the design stage. We would recommend that the post-contract BEP for design stage, also gets included in the tender documents for contractors, so they have visibility as to how BIM has been developed up to that stage.
“In the end, the EIR has to carefully consider what is ultimately going to be delivered, how it will be delivered, used and maintained.”
Pointing people in the direction of the UK BIM Task Group website for guidance on what should be in an EIR document, Montague added that there were a couple of key points that should be remembered: “Some of these are obvious, but you may have to include reference to them in the EIR, to help drive good behaviours throughout the project, to ensure you get the outcome you want.
“One of the biggest challenges we have come across, is people not realizing that they were required to do something in BIM, because it was a single line or paragraph in a 100-page document. And then they say after they are appointed, that they didn’t allow for it, and doing it now will cost more or cause disruption or delay, which immediately puts the client under pressure to abandon the BIM process. In order to avoid misunderstanding, the client must be absolutely committed and clear, in all communications, that BIM Level 2 to PAS1192 is going to be used.
“Traditional practice is to leave the appointment of contractors/sub-contractors or specialists, to the very last minute, and then expect people to start delivering straight away, and in many instances we’ve seen contractors executing work on site, before that element of the model has been completed or checked against other elements. To counter this traditional practice, the EIR should make it clear that any appointments must allow time for model development before executing work on site. And this applies to client appointments as well.
“Over the years we’ve seen a lot of ‘Pseudo BIM’, where people produce design and construction documentation in 2D and then produce the BIM afterwards. Not only is this double the effort, but the models don’t necessarily correspond to the drawings, which are the contract documents, and because they have been produced separately, the model is not reliable. The EIR should state that all drawings/documents should, as far as possible, be derived directly from model.”
The three presentations at the EIR meeting were exactly what CITA required for its members, said Dr Hore, practical information of immediate use in real world situations. He said: “The Smarter Building briefings have proved a great success with people who have been to one returning to the next wanting more!”
A good estimate
The Irish construction industry is catching up with the rest of the world in its appreciation of the potential of BIM, says Damon Stevenson, Sales Director for Europe for Exactal, developers of software that integrates the estimating process with CAD drawing files and/or BIM models. Exactal’s flagship product, CostX, is in wide spread use amongst quantity surveying, construction, development, subcontracting and estimating firms, both large and small, around the world. CostX is also used by asset owners to figure out potential costs before going to tender seeking facility managers or other service companies.
Stevenson said: “BIM is a hot topic, but there are other IT technologies that can bring efficiencies to the industry. The way to assess the value of a technology to an individual company is to look to see does that technology provide a level of automation or increased efficiency and will it give a sound return on investment. However, any application or tool is only as good as its user – if an application is too complicated to be used effectively then it, on its own, is not worth investing in.”
There is online training available from Exactal for users new to CostX. Stevenson said: “There is a learning curve with any new software, however with appropriate training, you and your staff will be able to hit the ground running and more effectively take advantage of the many time-saving features that our Exactal products offer.”
The industry needs to look beyond PAS 1192 and Level 2 BIM to future proof its BIM investments against ‘next generation BIM strategies, says Prof Karsten Menzel of UCC’s Civil Engineering Department, where students sitting the MEngSc on Information Technology in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction are given access to BIMs relating to the university’s own buildings
Prof Menzel says: “By developing a more detailed understanding about areas like Facilities and Energy Management we learn about the ‘upstream information requirements’, as recommended in BS PAS 1192-2. This puts you in a better position to collaborate with partners from multiple disciplines expanding your client base. However, AEC-sector representatives need to learn more about how building information is structured and categorised in the Facility and Energy Management sectors. For BIM Level 3, the specification of the project flow and the definition of roles and responsibilities become even more important than for BIM Level2. Comprehensive Business Process Modelling, and subsequent re-engineering, is one of the key enabling technologies to support Lean Construction. Therefore, AEC-sector representatives need to be able to contribute in a structured way to Collaborative Design Environments.”
Over the next 29 years, BIM is set to revolutionise how construction is procured worldwide, says Dan O’Sullivan, a lecturer at Carlow IT. “While the transition from 2D CAD has been likened to the move from the drawing board to the computer, this does not really properly describe the potential of BIM. BIM is not just about creating a shared 3D model; its full implementation will mean that these models are richly populated with information that evolves continuously through the full lifecycle of a project – right from the initial concept to the demolition and recycling stages.
“To date, the roll-out of BIM has focussed on modelling for coordination purposes, with clash detection and reduction in abortive site operations featuring prominently. While these are essential and hugely useful operations, they only scratch the surface of the possibilities. Imagine a single, cloud-based model, shared by all participants; owners, funders, designers, cost & construction managers, contractors and O&M – the ‘holy grail’ of level 3 BIM. Despite the hype, this is some way off, with changes required to how the whole industry operates.
“Wherever BIM is going and however quickly it evolves, IT Carlow is already ahead of the curve. We started our BIM journey over six years ago, with students across the Built Environment Department now using Autodesk’s Building Design Suite as their primary software tools, including Revit Architecture, as well as Civil 3D. Anticipating the growing demands of industry for BIM-enabled graduates, we ensure that our students are both well prepared and skilful in the use of BIM software and are familiar with key BIM concepts. BIM will change the way we all work, particularly how we collaborate.”
The BIM Handbook. A Guide to Building Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers and Contractors, 2nd Edition.ISBN: 978-0-470-54137-1 (July 2011)