Build June (2016)

Build Magazine 48 et me take you back to the 1998 Egan Report, which was about ‘rethinking construction’ by improving quality and efficiency. This report was written 18 years ago and yet in my opinion the topics, drivers and ambitions are the same for the UK construction industry then as they are today. The report set out five key drivers for change which were to set the agenda for the construction industry at large: committed leadership, a focus on the customer, integrated processes and teams, a quality driven agenda and commitment to people. For me the term ‘integrated processes’ is still a work in progress. Though each of the drivers merit their own article, I would like to focus on ‘integrated processes’. Egan used this term to explain that it is a process that utilises the full construction team, bringing the skills of all the participants to bear on delivering value to the client. It is a process that is explicit and transparent, and therefore easily understood by the participants and their clients. That’s a great driver, but how did our industry respond? Well, there were a number of approaches and concepts that were identified, developed, introduced and tested to provide solutions, which in time led to a Government term ‘integrated practice’ in construction. This was a response to reduce the fragmented nature of our industry through partnering and frameworks, etc. Ironically, this approach already existed as early as the 1970s, however it was never recognised as a robust tool to provide this type of approach until the early noughties in the UK. Today, we might best recognise integrated practice as BIM or Building Information Modelling. This is an approach to design, construction, and facility management in which a digital representation of the building process is used to facilitate the exchange and interoperability of information in digital. It requires a different way of thinking and working with a shared information format. However, in the new build private sector the adoption of this different way of thinking and working on projects is still a hit and miss affair. Some clients still view the BIM process as nothing more than an unnecessary cost premium that protracts the design programme. Yet, there are some clients who instead see the numerous benefits BIM can offer and are prepared to deliver their developments in this way for both themselves and their customers, but to what end? A recent example was in the delivery of DP World London Gateway’s Logistics Centre by Savills New Build Project Management team, where BIM was used from start to finish. By undertaking the design process in this way, the whole design and project team were able to provide a higher integration of all the different design packages involved, allowing clashes to be identified earlier, which resulted in minimal changes and a far smoother construction phase. This isn’t however, where it ends. The data rich BIM model can also be used in the operational phase of a building for owners and occupiers alike. DP World Estate’s team now use the BIM data in the management and maintenance of their building. Their facilities team are able to access data to provide accurate information on maintenance regimes and output data on the life cycle of equipment and assets. This in turn informs DP World’s planned preventative maintenance budgeting for their building. More and more people are starting to see the benefits, so much so that the RICS has recently launched a BIM Manager certification which is seeing the first wave of Chartered Surveyors using BIM in cost and project management. This is responding to the UK Government’s construction strategy that requires all centrally procured public procurement projects to be built using level 2 BIM by 2016. Large scale infrastructure projects, such as HS2 are now taking BIM from 3D to 5D, by adding cost and time into the BIM process. The Egan Report and the government strategy is really about the industry working smarter. Those in the industry who have embraced BIM see the wider value add. Those clients who will hold their assets once developed can use BIM to inform decisions based on long term performance and how that can be optimised rather than look at the most economic solution. We’re seeing an increasing number of consultants and designing contractors with BIM capability. However, in the new build private sector, BIM is not yet business as usual though the future is definitely digital. Building information modelling – James Kelway L