Experts more sceptical about Government’s BIM 2 deadline

BIMConstruction firms are increasingly pessimistic about the UK Government’s ability to meet its deadline for the adoption of Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) in centrally procured projects. According to the latest BIM survey by law firm Pinsent Masons, nearly three quarters (71.3 percent) of respondents believe the 2016 deadline is now ‘unachievable’ compared to around 64 percent last year. The survey found there remains a positive attitude towards the use of new technology in construction in spite of the fact that only half of respondents had even heard of the core Digital Built Britain strategy. Nearly all (94 percent) were aware of the BIM2 target and when asked about the implications of new technology for construction, 58 percent believed it would have a high impact, 29 percent thought it would be medium, while just 3 percent said low.

When asked about the impact of specific technologies, two thirds (67 percent) are expecting to see the widespread use of 3D printed components on site within five years, 59 percent expect to use drones, 58 percent expect  that Big Data will make an impact, and 49 percent thought that wearable technology would be in widespread use.

A third (33 percent) of those surveyed said that the largest barrier to Level 2 BIM capability is a lack of understanding of BIM among subcontractors and consultants.  A quarter (25 percent) believe the most significant barrier is insufficient experience of BIM within their own organisation. A similar proportion (24 percent) claim that the absence of collaboration in the construction team and its supply chain is a major barrier.

Nearly all (95 percent) respondents to the voluntary survey believe that BIM requires a more collaborative approach between the contractor and construction team although just 52 percent say they are witnessing more collaboration in the construction industry as a result of the uptake of BIM.

The survey was completed by a range of contractors, clients, consultants and institutions across the industry, including the CIOB, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, Mace, Vinci and UBS in the survey that was linked to Pinsent Mason’s recent BIM Conference.

According to the Government, its core BIM Task Group has been responsible for the delivery of the Government’s current BIM programme, known as BIM Level 2, and has already achieved 20 per cent cost savings in construction procurement. The Government claims to have put BIM at the heart of its sector strategy which commits to cut built asset costs by 33 per cent, and time and carbon by 50 per cent. Level 2 BIM applies to ‘the design and construction of assets through the sharing of traditional files and open data (COBie) to drive the use of technology and the sharing of high quality digital information. The Level 3 programme will build on this and will extend the Capex/Opex savings paradigm to a whole life process.’

Talking about the survey, Pinsent Masons infrastructure partner Chris Hallam said: “In combination, 58 percent of infrastructure experts surveyed believe that the supply chain’s lack of understanding and insufficient in-house experience of BIM are the main barriers to achieving Level 2 BIM capability. As a headline that doesn’t make great reading, but it’s not a massive surprise.  Over the last few years there has been a huge and very successful effort by early adopters in the industry and government to promote and encourage awareness, acceptance and use of BIM – to a stage where there is near universal industry recognition of BIM and widespread private sector investment in BIM implementation and technologies.

“However, awareness and investment is just the start.  It’s clearly going to take time for the wider industry to get up the BIM learning curve to really understand what BIM can do, and obviously with time comes experience.  That is the challenge for the next few years, as the innovators and early adopters turn their sights to Level 3 BIM, we are very optimistic that it will happen.”