Blend BIM with prefabrication and building expertise and the result is a template that will, in all likelihood, rewrite building design, construction and maintenance methodology.
BIM allows building professionals to utilise a shared file that follows the entire life-cycle of a building from conception to demolition. This ‘bird’s eye view’ of the construction sequence seems almost tailor made to align with the ‘sum of all parts’ thinking behind many offsite builds. Earlier manual 2D CAD systems were geared towards producing work that relied on fixed characteristics and resulted in mass-produced units that didn’t offer much scope for flexible or innovative product development. Compare that with the frenzy of 3D CAD development in the automotive and aerospace industries and the possibilities for improvement are clear.
As if in response to those opportunities, the building sector now has BIM and the tools to rival those industries in its creativity, efficiency, and quality.
Essentially, the combination of BIM and offsite prefabrication improves almost all aspects of the build: design solutions, consistency in building and manufacturing processes, reduction of on-site errors, use of a dedicated and skilled workforce and significantly, safety for those working on-site.
Nathan Hildebrandt is a BrisBIM Committee Member and also the BIM Manager at Fulton Trotter Architects. As such he has a strong grasp of the challenges and the future of BIM in Australia.
Hildebrandt says the take-up of BIM is in the early adopters phase but adds that there are a number of market leaders who can rightly claim to have good knowledge and practice in BIM processes.
“There are a significant number of practices that lay claim to delivering BIM but aren’t really capable, but there is great interest in the industry in learning about what BIM is and how it can make a difference,” Hildebrandlt says.
“Architects led the way a number of years ago, now engineering practices and mainly Tier 1 contractors are working in BIM every day.” When looking to future opportunities Hildebrandlt says: “The Federal Government prior to the election earlier this year had a review and made recommendations on BIM deliverables on projects over $50M. That said, a number of the State Governments are currently investigating BIM mandates, with the Victorian Government and Queensland Government currently investigating their requirements, and in particular in QLD stating its intention to: ‘In partnership with industry, build Queensland’s public and private sector capability to move towards a mandatory adoption of BIM on building projects by 2020 and on major infrastructure by 2023.’”
Adding further weight to the adoption of BIM according to the Built Environment Innovation Council, a recent survey has found that using BIM is estimated to improve the productivity of the AEC (architecture-engineering-construction) network by a very significant 6-9% with an extremely high benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 10.
Concerted government support for the use of BIM by the notoriously fragmented AEC could increase usage in 2025 by 6-16% according to conservative estimates from industry representatives. This accelerated rate of BIM adoption would produce an economic benefit equivalent to $5 billion added to Australia’s GDP.
These compelling figures send a clear message to those who are prepared to invest in BIM and in doing so, receive all the dividends on offer from prefabrication and offsite methodologies.■