It is fair to say that BIM has been a topic of great interest within the construction industry over the last number of years, hailed as one of the core ways that we as an industry are embracing technological evolution, tackling inefficiencies, improving information quality and increasing design team collaboration. It is true that it offers a number of distinct advantages, and yet, as noted by John Hainsworth of Aurecon in his article, ‘The promise of ‘digital’ won’t be achieved by doing things the way we’ve always done things’, with an array of definitions and a lack of clarity surrounding BIM, its full benefits are yet to be realized. John points to the fact that its implementation is often carried out in a file-based, transactional manner, with a truly collaborative approach absent and ways of working essentially the same as they have been traditionally – just using the technology to do the same things and missing out on the potential benefits.
At Linesight, the lack of willingness to fully adopt is something that we see on a global basis, although the extent does vary somewhat from region to region. We have adopted BIM on a global basis and invested heavily in its implementation, both in hardware and software, and in continuous staff training, to ensure that we are up to date with the latest developments and at the forefront in terms of its effective utilization. Below is a summary of the key benefits that we see in the effectual use of BIM:
Speed and agility
The pace at which estimations can be produced increases considerably with the use of BIM, and this is one of the key advantages of its effective implementation. It enables the creation of option costs with greater speed, as well as the potential for live cost planning and modelling – introducing a level of agility with cost planning and estimating that has not traditionally been possible. Ultimately, this leads to faster decision making and thus, a faster speed to market.
Accuracy and quality
Information accuracy and quality has been a particular challenge for the industry in recent years, with the UK’s Get It Right Initiative finding that information errors cost the industry an estimated 5% of project value globally. In addition to the abovementioned speed and agility benefits, effective BIM implementation increases the accuracy with which cost estimating, planning and modelling can be carried out, by minimizing the risk of human error, as well as supporting a higher quality of information. This in turn leads to a more cooperative project, as tenderers are much less likely to recover costs incurred due to poor or inconsistent information.
While increased collaboration is often touted as a key benefit associated with BIM, this is not something that comes to fruition as often as one may think. The technology facilitates clarity, transparency and real-time sharing of information across the project team, coordinating information from various disciplines and eliminating version control issues, as well as keeping the lines of communication open. However, a proactive approach is needed across the team to actually realise these benefits, which is quite often lacking.
Managing and forecasting cashflow throughout a project is fundamental to its success, and traditionally, cashflow analysis is a lengthy and tedious process. From Linesight’s perspective, this is one of the biggest advantages associated with BIM – its effective adoption BIM facilitates more accurate speed forecasting by linking cost-loaded models and programmes, with more detailed models producing more accurate cashflow analyses. Ultimately, our early involvement in a project means that cash flow investment can often be deferred, which is particularly beneficial for projects with a large capital spend.
While benchmarking is not a new methodology, BIM facilitates it at a more accurate level as costs are broken down in more detail in the models, so by splitting the model, it allows us to benchmark specifics. However, by using BIM to its full potential, it pushes this further, to what we refer to as cost intelligence. With a deluge of complex data associated with projects nowadays, utilising the latest data visualisation tools brings this data to life in a meaningful way – illustrating trends and concepts in a quick and easy-to-digest format, allowing project teams and clients to draw conclusions from large volumes of data and inform effective decision-making.
While the benefits of BIM are often well-covered, these are not often realised to their full potential due to implementation or adoption issues. Ultimately, the technology is there, but not the willingness to take the leap of faith to truly adopt and trust the use of BIM. At Linesight, we believe that clients and design teams should consider this sooner rather than later, as the rewards are rich. We’ve made the jump and seen significant benefits in the built environment for our clients – are you ready for the leap?