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David Philp on mandate day: BIM is the 'Trojan Horse' that gave industry a kick

5 April 2016

The industry should be proud of itself for its response to a major change programme in the guise of the Level 2 BIM mandate, but needs to be aware that “traditional” non-digital construction methodologies will be steadily squeezed out of existence.

That was the summary of David Philp FCIOB, global BIM consultancy director at Aecom and member of the government’s BIM Task Group, speaking yesterday as the Level 2 BIM mandate took effect.

The mandate will mean that all central government clients, as well the agencies they control, must issue Employer’s Information Requirements setting out their BIM “deliverables” for all future projects and invitations to tender. 

However, implementation of the mandate is likely to be patchy – for more details, see the results of the Construction Manager/BIM+ online pre-mandate survey.

Philp described the Level 2 mandate, which originated in the Government Construction Strategy of May 2011, as a “Trojan Horse” that had indirectly brought the supply chain together in ongoing collaboration.

“It’s been as much about industry change and disruptive ways of working as BIM itself – it’s grabbed the imagination and been a catalyst for change,” said Philp. 

“The industry should be proud about how much it’s moved on in the last five years. And the government should be generally pleased, we really are on the ramp of realising a lot of the changes that have been predicted for the last 80 years,” he added, referring to the stream of reports critiquing the performance of UK construction industry that began with Alfred Blossom’s “Reach for the Skies” in 1934, to be followed by the Banwell, Latham and Egan reports.

On the mandate, he said: “We’ve arrived at a start line, we’ve now got a suite of British Standards, and have got an industry that’s changed a lot of behaviours. The challenge was to upskill the supply chain, so we’ve made the industry’s biggest client consistent about its requirements – if clients are repeatedly asking for things in the same manner, it becomes a lot easier to implement change.”

But he indirectly warned members of the supply chain that were failing to embrace new technolgies, saying: “In the last five or six years, we’ve seen traditional construction being quite squeezed, by BIM, by the likes of Laing O’Rourke working with offsite, by the digital construction economy. As we get closer to 2025, we’ll see a shift towards the digitised paradigm, without a doubt.

"We've now got a suite of British Standards, and have got an industry that's changed a lot of behaviours. The challenge was to upskill the supply chain, so we've made the industry's biggest client consistent about its requirements - if clients are repeatedly asking for things in the same manner, it becomes a lot easier to implement change."

David Philp

According to Philp, Aecom clients around the world are already embracing the opportunities opened up by the improved data flow BIM allows, and are asking their consultants and contractors to deliver “features of Level 3 BIM”.

“If you go back a couple of years, it was all about asking for design collaboration and detailed design. Now, there’s a growth in BIM requirements, clients are asking for real-time data exchange, information telemetry and real-time data analytics.

“It’s starting to drive real value in the operational stages of the project – clients are thinking about the amplified value of the asset. And clients are starting to imbue their assets with intelligence – such as live data feeds – to almost give them a pulse.”

Mandate day also coincided with the release of the 2016 NBS BIM survey, which measured the construction industry’s current adoption of BIM at 54%, up from 48% last year.

Almost three quarters (73%) agreed that BIM is the future of project information in construction and 75% agreed that they were clear that they needed to use BIM for public sector work.

However, in terms of being “BIM ready”, a significant number of those surveyed, 41%, said that they were not clear on what they have to do to comply with the BIM mandate, with only 10% believing that the construction industry is now ready to deliver on the government’s 2016 requirements.

More than a quarter of respondents (28%) feel they lack skills and knowledge, describing themselves as “not very” or “not at all” confident when it comes to BIM.

According to the survey, 57% believe BIM will help to halve the overall programme, from inception to completion. In addition, 63% agreed that BIM will help deliver the targeted reduction of a third in the initial cost of construction and the whole-life cost of built assets.

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