23rd October Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

I’ve spoken about my support for the development of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology before. And the Government seemed to agree with me when they announced the BIM Mandate, which states that all firms tendering for Government projects must be using Level 2 BIM technology by 2016.

The announcement meant that all firms had to start thinking about using the technology, especially if they wanted to be able to tender for Government projects. But with 2016 only two months away, I would expect all firms to have progressed a lot further than just thinking about BIM  … but it seems my expectations are a far cry from reality.

According to a survey by the Electrical Contractors Association, the industry is way behind in the Government’s timetable. Only 16 per cent of firms in the building sector are BIM ready, over half (57 per cent) aren’t fully ready and 27 per cent aren’t ready at all, despite the deadline being just months away.

The results show that awareness of BIM is high across building services, and although they are aware of BIM and the looming deadline, most firms still have a long way to go in order to meet it.

The results indicate that while some companies have already engaged with BIM, many more have yet to consider it. Although the advantages of BIM have been highlighted, more so this week, due to Digital Construction Week, there are still some SMEs that think BIM isn’t as relevant to them as it is for larger organisations, but they could not be more wrong.

BIM isn’t just about the software. The processes and systems used have just as much importance, if not more. Some of the SMEs I’ve spoken to in the past said this is what puts them off. However, it really shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether this technology is used or not, and you don’t really have a choice anymore if you want to tender for Government projects. All businesses need to do is ensure they have the process infrastructure in place that can help them deliver BIM and the technical capability to administer the correct information.

Don’t worry, it isn’t as complicated as it seems. BIM doesn’t require drastic change in the way things are currently done. Firms should take a problem-solving approach and pick just one area of their workflow they want to improve and then use BIM as part of the solution.

There are some great examples of organisations using BIM well and in the North East, there are numerous SMEs using the technology to their full advantage. So there’s plenty of evidence to show those organisations slightly wary of the next step that it’s definitely worth it.