BIMBeing: The Journey #47
#47 – BIM is for the Journey…
Photograph by Pixabay of Pexels.
To appreciate any benefit of the implementation of BIM on a project, you really have to do it from the start. Sure, you can try to ‘retro-fit’ BIM in the middle somewhere, but it will never quite be the same. It’s like fitting a new engine into an old car; yes, it can be done, given a significant amount of time, money, experience and pain, but it will never quite be as slick and refined as something that rolls fresh from the production line, something that was planned and well executed from the beginning. By the time you’re half way through a design and/or construction project, too many decisions have already been made, contracts have been agreed, some sort of process is in place and people are set in their ways. Shoe-horning entirely new processes and practices in at this point is going to cause a lot of trouble, and cost a lot of money. Still, it is usually better than nothing, half-way BIM is not really my issue today. What you certainly should not do is implement BIM at the very end of the project; seriously, what are you all thinking?!
“I want BIM” or “we need to do BIM” – these are comments often made by the same people that think you can just start delivering BIM at any given moment in time, usually when they’ve suddenly realised that it’s a client deliverable. These are the people that think that BIM can be conjured from thin air at the end of a project and it will still be successful, even if it hasn’t been mentioned up until that point in time. BIM isn’t just a thing that you nip to the shops and pick up, whilst wearing a face mask of course – you’re going to achieve nothing significant by dropping it in at the end. This really is locking the gate once the horse has bolted; the opportunities have been missed, so it’s as good as pointless.
Anyone with any understanding of what BIM sets out to achieve knows this, so I do feel a little like I’m ‘preaching to the choir’ here. Nevertheless, we need to spell this out for the rest of the industry in an effort to change its ways, and I really need to get it off of my chest. A recent project I’ve been involved with is suffering this very issue, and it’s frustrating to say the least. Some BIM processes have been employed and there is, in old terms, a BIM Level 2 delivery requirement. Most major packages of work have been modelled to an appropriate LOD/LOI to facilitate ongoing design, coordination, construction and the delivery of asset information. However, many smaller packages have been missed in the production teams’ efforts to just build everything as quickly as possible. Entirely new systems and packages have been procured and installed on site, all without consulting the design or BIM team. Nothing was coordinated beforehand (which on a complex project is a huge risk in itself), there is no scope or fees allocated to providing useful information and now we have ‘record data’ that consists of unreliable sketches, at best. It appears that at this point, where a lack of information for said packages has caused an untold number of issues throughout the project, is when the package managers have realised that “we need BIM”.
IT’S TOO LATE.
Any opportunity to improve the design, coordination and construction processes have been missed. We have little to no record information and, at this present time, nobody has been paid or contracted to deliver ‘BIM’ for these packages. As always, nobody wants to spend any money to resolve these issues either, so where do they turn? Oh yes, “hello BIM Team, why don’t you do it?”.
BIM Managers and Coordinators working for a main contractor are not there to model, nor are they there to patch up scope gaps and odd modelling bodge jobs caused by pure incompetence. This isn’t through a lack of ability, nor is it an affront to helping out, it’s a deeper issue than that. You model it = you take responsibility for it. This is the primary issue, especially for a main contractor, and it sits alongside an array of other problems too. Why would you want to absolve a sub-contractor of their liability? Why take on the additional risk for the sake of saving a few thousand pounds? Why run the risk of missing information? Why not just get this right at the start, instead of creating unnecessary panic with the afterthought? Its entirely nonsensical, and it has to stop.
From my time working for and with them, I still firmly believe that the greatest risk to a Main Contractor is the Main Contractor themselves. Mismanagement, poor communication and a lack of shared knowledge between teams and departments appear to be the root of almost all evil. In this instance, it isn’t the sub-contractors fault that you didn’t scope them to provide BIM. The blame lies solely at the source of procurement – the problem is in-house. It really isn’t that difficult to get these things right, in fact it’s a lot simpler than doing it all arse-about-face.
Plan – Implement – Deliver, it should be that simple.
Know exactly what information is needed before signing contracts. Better still, know what’s needed before going out to tender; are the sub-contractors capable of delivering to these requirements? Do they know, in detail, what needs to be provided and when? Knowing means everyone, internally and externally. There’s no point in the BIM team knowing what is required if they aren’t sharing that with the procurement team, and vice versa. Plan exactly what’s required, and ensure everyone is on that very same page.
Implement clear, robust processes for the production of information. Ensure all parties know how information should be produced, how they should coordinate/collaborate and how success will be measured. Clearly define and employ tools and processes to assess models and information, set targets and KPI’s, monitor progress and report issues early – this is real BIM management.
With clear processes and good management, delivery is simple! The expectations are known, progress has been monitored and dates are in place; we’re living the dream, right? This is exactly how it should be.
I understand that projects don’t always go to plan, but surely by planning what is already known we could free up a lot of time and energy to be used for dealing with the remaining unknowns? BIM really can deliver efficiencies, but it has to be done right, and it has to be done from the start. If you’re sat there saying “BIM is nothing but additional time, cost and hassle”, you’re definitely doing it wrong.
Plan – Implement – Deliver.