At the Bentley Conference in Sydney last week, BIM became the buzzword driving Bentley’s strategy in producing effective delivery strategies for major projects.
In the rail sector, the 118-kilometre Crossrail project linking London’s east, west and centre which is currently around 70 per cent complete and thus far on time and within budget has placed Bentley ahead of it’s competitors.
Technology was a key driver for the project. Given that the sheer scale of this project was such that virtually every major consultant in the United Kingdom was involved to at least some degree, a critical success factor revolved around the early development of a ‘single source of truth’ for all information which was considered to be important.
In sharing his experiences at conferences in Sydney last week, Crossrail head of technical information Malcolm Taylor said it was largely achieved through adopting basic principles which dealt with collaboration in a multi-disciplinary environment.
“It’s important to think carefully about the type of information which will be required over the life cycle of the asset during operations and maintenance as well as during design and building,” Taylor said.
“If you start with the end in mind, know what it is you need to collect and then collect it, you can be sure that you have got the right data at the right time.”
While the second half of the 20th century in terms of data collection and information gathering was all about using folders and personal computers, Taylor believes the modern way involves databases using modern tools to be as efficient as possible.
In terms of adoption of BIM specifically, Bentley vice president – ANZ Brian Middleton says Australia suffers from a lack of effective leadership. Whilst the level of focus upon the capabilities of BIM as a modeling tool have been adequate, he says there is insufficient focus upon how intelligence captured during the design and construction phases can subsequently be used in the operations and maintenance phases, which can account for around 80 to 90 per cent of overall cost of owning the asset. Too often, he said, use of multiple technologies and file formats during design and construction and the practice of different parties discarding information which was not needed from their own point of view resulted in a set of information at the end which was disjointed and not easily understood by facilities managers and maintenance contractors.
Middleton is particularly disappointed about references to BIM as a software tool in a report following a senate inquiry into use of smart information system technology in the design and planning of infrastructure, saying it should instead be viewed as a combination of people, process and technology to move information across the asset life cycle.
“There are two things that I see,” Middleton said when asked about how Australia and New Zealand are performing in terms of BIM adoption, “A huge appetite and a lack of leadership.
“There is a huge appetite in the supply chain amongst the contractors and huge enthusiasm on the part of owners and operators. But there is a lack of knowledge and understanding and leadership in terms of applying it and obtaining the benefit.”