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Events coverage

Promoting UK best practice in construction – BIM in action

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Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the future of construction, yet its implementation (particularly by the public sector) varies enormously from country to country.

The UK is a global leader; since 2016, only buildings and infrastructure designed in BIM can be procured by British government departments and agencies. Germany and other countries are following closely – whereas the Polish government currently has no plans to mandate the use of BIM in public projects.

Across the construction sector, architects, engineers, contractors, developers and facility managers – are increasingly turning to BIM to speed up the delivery of projects and lower construction and maintenance costs. Yet in Poland, the benefits that derive from the use of BIM are not being delivered in public projects.

Since 2013, the BPCC has actively been promoting UK best practice in BIM, organising several major meetings and smaller workshops around the theme, as well as visiting the Polish parliament to show deputies how using BIM brings greater value for money for taxpayers.

The latest BIM conference, held at the British Embassy in Warsaw on 11 January 2017, showed the latest developments from the UK public sector, drew on case studies from major projects in the UK and Sweden, demonstrated how investors gain from deciding on BIM, highlighted barriers to implementing BIM in Poland and covered the chief IT issues.

The keynote speaker at the event, Professor David Philp is AECOM's global head of BIM, had twice previously addressed BPCC BIM events at the British Embassy in Warsaw in his former role as head of the UK government's BIM task group. Prof Philp – whose flight to Warsaw was cancelled because of a forced landing at Chopin Airport – delivered his presentation via a telephone link. He showed how the UK had successfully met its own deadline to make BIM the standard for all government-procured construction projects, and set out the next steps. He explained that the UK had settled for BIM Level 2 – the use of 3D models with non-graphic information such as specifications, instructions, guarantees, and maintenance schedules. Now, the UK is aiming for BIM Levels 3 and 4 – linking new technologies such as Internet of Things, distributed ledger and smart sensors with the 3D models. He explained how in the future, the models will gather information flows in real time, learning constantly to deliver better environmental and social outcomes.

Mateusz Nettmann from AECOM gave a real life example of the Stockholm Bypass, updating the presentation he gave in October 2014 to show how the project has progressed from plans to reality using BIM from the outset, and demonstrating the benefits for all parties – most important of whom are the Swedish taxpayers.

Dagmara Ćwiek and Maciej Iwaszko from BIM Engineers showed some more examples from the private and public sector on UK market highlighting macro and micro benefits of using BIM – the firm's stand featured a pair of virtual reality goggles with which users could go on a virtual tour of Finsbury Park station on London's Underground. They also showed how laser measurement technology now allows for scanning existing buildings, as data clouds, allowing owners, architects and engineers to retrofit or modernise them with the help of BIM.

Bartosz Jankowski, a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and a board member of Rewitech, focused on the regulatory and legal barriers that are holding back wider-scale implementation of BIM in Poland. In particular, he identified the lack of any legislative work intended to mandate the use of BIM in public procurement as a major shortcoming.

Renate Kremer from Aconex considered the IT issues surrounding BIM, in particular interoperability between different software packages – those focused on project management, 3D modelling, cost management functions and facilities management. Ms Kremer highlighted the importance of an open format platform, in which all parties can add and share data and collaborate data on different devices in an open, scaleable and secure environment.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion during which the presenters returned to the barriers to the wider-spread use of BIM across Poland. There were concerns about the training of architecture and engineering students in BIM, would enough young people be graduating from Poland's technical universities to ensure a good supply of suitably prepared people. The local skills shortage would be exacerbated once the German government makes BIM mandatory. 

Next steps would to move forward with meetings with Polish parliamentarians who 'get BIM', and to suggest a text of draft legislation that could be discussed in Sejm. More meetings will be planned as a follow-up to this conference, to ensure that BIM is not overlooked by Poland's law-makers.

Prof David Philip, AECOM, former head of the UK government's BIM Task Group - BIM & Beyond: Digitisation and a Modern Industrial Strategy – a UK perspective

Mateusz Nettmann, AECOM – BIM in infrastructure – case study: Swedish road projects vägplan

Dagmara Ćwiek & Maciej Iwaszko BIM Engineers - BIM in the private and public sectors – benefits to the investor

Bartosz Jankowski, MRICS, Rewitech - Implementing BIM in Poland – the regulatory and legal barriers

Renate Kremer, Aconex - Interoperability – common standards in BIM

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