How new tech changes way we build infrastructure

3D modelling, geographical mapping and measuring performance is revolutionising the way we think, design, pay for, construct and operate our buildings and infrastructure. Picture: Emma Mitchell
3D modelling, geographical mapping and measuring performance is revolutionising the way we think, design, pay for, construct and operate our buildings and infrastructure. Picture: Emma Mitchell
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BUILDING Information Modelling gives industry key tools, says David Philp

Within our daily lives, technology helps save us time and money, either when we come to buy our weekly online groceries, reserve accommodation for a weekend away or book flights online.

These computer-aided transactions enable instantaneous data collection, analysis and often personalisation of the experience. Essentially, our everyday life has been transformed by how we interact with digital data, which in the vast majority of cases saves us more time.

This same digital concept is transforming the world of construction where the use of computer-based modelling coupled with collaborative working practices are revolutionising how we create and care for our buildings and infrastructure. Whether it’s hospitals and schools or major roads and railways, we are seeing a move towards a digitised construction process.

Under the title of Building Information Modelling (BIM), BIM gives industry the tools to align robust data management with sophisticated computer analysis to inform the evaluation and modelling of design solutions. This improves the efficiency of projects, during both the construction and operational phase of a project.

BIM essentially lets project teams build twice; firstly in a digital environment where the design can be analysed, co-ordinated and optimised before secondly, being constructed on site in the knowledge mistakes have been removed during the simulation of the model.

Construction is witnessing the growing importance of using data for 3D modelling, geographical mapping and measuring performance which is revolutionising the way we think, design, pay for, construct and operate our buildings and infrastructure. This change is being enabled by the BIM agenda which is being implemented across the globe and is offering the outline of a construction industry that buys their data once, builds right the first time, has good productivity and has the ability to create buildings and infrastructure that gives society the added value we all want.

So what does this all mean for the Scottish construction sector?

In October 2012, the Scottish Government launched a review of public sector construction procurement. Published in October 2013 the report identified the benefits in adopting BIM and made recommendations to how Scottish Government and procuring authorities should adopt BIM, including the reference that “BIM will be introduced in central government with a view to encouraging adoption across the public sector. The objective should be that, where appropriate, projects across the public sector adopt BIM level 2 by April 2017.”

The recommendations of the report were endorsed by Scottish Ministers and supported by six supplementary BIM recommendations.

The implementation of the recommendations is being conducted by a team, comprising the Scottish Futures Trust and Scottish Government. A Scottish BIM Delivery Group has been established with a remit to lead, manage, co-ordinate and deliver a BIM implementation plan on a day-to-day basis. The BIM Delivery Group will help Scottish Government meet its objectives for a move towards a digital built environment, with BIM featuring as a key part for the future of the Scottish construction industry.

The BIM implementation plan will go through a series of defined stages to support the Scottish public sector in their adoption of BIM. This will include pilot projects where certain strands of the strategy, or specific information exchanges, can be tested before it is refined and published as final guidance.

The BIM Delivery Group is encouraging industry to engage with the programme and get involved as soon as possible, so it is ready for the programme’s implementation. There will be opportunities for industry to get involved through the BIM Supplier Group Scotland (BIM SGS) which will be a forum of supply-side organisations, institutes and other bodies.

The BIM SGS will provide a vehicle for the Scottish BIM Delivery Group to deliver updates on progress and information on a regular basis. Forum members will be tasked with providing feedback, disseminating information through their organisations and acting as a communication platform to the Scottish supply chain.

A formal launch event is taking place in Edinburgh on 8 October, by which time the first stage will have been reached and the programme and its core objectives can be shared with industry. In the meantime, a series of launch workshops are being facilitated to determine BIM capability and capacity within the Scottish public sector.

This is an exciting time for the construction industry and its clients in Scotland. The digitisation of our built environment will ultimately help re-shape the industry for the better, and will help attract new entrants into a more innovative and advanced virtualised sector.

• David Philp MSc BSc FICE FRICS FCIOB FCInstES FGBC Chair of the Scottish BIM Delivery Group www.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk

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