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BIM Implementation in Australia (And the Mistakes to Avoid)

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BIM Implementation in Australia (And the Mistakes to Avoid)

Australian firms have been slow to take up Building Information Modelling (BIM). Nevertheless, they’ll have to do it to meet recent government mandates. This article examines what BIM is and the mistakes to avoid when implementing it.

The architectural and engineering sectors are changing. New technologies have had a massive effect. The rise of 3D printing changes how you create prototypes of your models. More advanced digital design software packages allow you to create more realistic designs. And virtual reality gives you new ways to showcase your models.

But that’s not all that’s changing. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become more popular in recent years. Many major firms now work within the BIM framework. Even so, Australia is a little behind the curve when it comes to Building Information Modelling.

To see this, you need only look at the government mandates. Australia has, for the most part, yet to mandate the use of BIM in major projects. Queensland bucks that trend. However, it’s most recent mandate doesn’t come into full force until 2023.

Compare this to the mandates in other countries. In the United Kingdom, firms have had to use Building Information Modelling for centrally-funded work since 2016. The United States has prepared itself for Building Information Modelling since 2003. And South Korea has gradually increased its BIM-mandated projects since 2010.

So, Australia is slightly behind the curve. The good news is that this gives firms and universities more time to adapt to the BIM framework. To do that, you need to know two things. Firstly, you need to know what BIM is and the levels of BIM that you can attain. As importantly, you also need to understand the BIM mistakes to avoid. This article covers both.

The BIM Levels

At its core, Building Information Modelling is a simple concept. It involves the centralisation of all of the information that’s relevant to a design project. This allows for greater collaboration among project stakeholders.

Here’s how it works. You create a central database that all stakeholders have access to. This includes designers, clients, and construction crews. Any professional whose work affects the project should have access.

This database stores two things – the model and the information relevant to the model. The key here is that the model has a direct link to the information. This allows you to create a single model that displays all of the project-relevant information in one place. As a result, you don’t have to rework the model every time you need it to display something new.

The information in the database also has a direct impact on the model. If somebody changes a piece of information, that change gets reflected instantly in the model. This saves time that you would have spent making manual alterations. You achieve this through the use of special BIM software, such as Revit.

The end result is greater access to project information, which results in the creation of more accurate models. You also save time, which results in cost savings.

There are also different four levels of Building Information Modelling. These are as follows:

Level 0. This involves practically no BIM at all. Level 0 firms often don’t even use 3D models. They don’t collaborate directly with other professionals and usually produce little more than 2D CAD drawings. Very few firms operate at this level.

Level 1: Most of the firms in Australia operate at this level. Level 1 involves some collaboration between professionals. But it doesn’t pull all of the information into a single database. Instead, designers keep reworking their models as new information becomes available. Each professional involved manages the distribution of their own data, rather than sharing it with everyone.

Level 2. This is the level that most think about when talking about Building Information Modelling. At this level, all parties share information openly via the central database. It’s not perfect BIM though. Usually, each party will have its own 3D model that it works from. This means that there’s still some reworking involved at this level.

Level 3. The gold standard of Building Information Modelling. This level involves complete information sharing and a single model. The model reflects all of the information stored in the central database. All stakeholders can access and alter this model.

The Mistakes to Avoid

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As you can see, the simple concept of BIM isn’t so easy to execute. The different levels complicate things. Moreover, firms must adapt their working processes to fit within the BIM framework.

This change period can lead to mistakes, especially if you try to do things too quickly. Here are six BIM mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1 – Thinking That It’s a Tool

Here’s what BIM is not. Building Information Modelling is not a new software package. It’s also not a new tool that you can integrate into your current business processes.

It’s a complete change in the way that your business operates.

This is something that many people don’t realise. They say that they’re going to adopt BIM in the mistaken belief that it will only take a month or two to adapt. But then they find themselves confused as the true scale of making the switch becomes known. In the end, they lose money and time because they don’t know what BIM actually is.

You can’t send somebody on a week’s worth of training and assume that’s all they need. Switching to BIM requires change management. Your people need extensive training. Plus, you have to collaborate with clients and business partners to ensure they’re on board.

Speaking of which…

Mistake #2 – Not Communicating Your Intentions

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Building Information Modelling is a collaborative methodology. So, how can you expect to collaborate if your clients and business partners don’t know that you’re making the switch?

You need all of them on board if you’re going to successfully implement BIM.

This requires active and thorough communication. Don’t start making the switch until you’ve spoken to all of your partners. Discuss BIM with them and help them to understand their roles in your new system. Most importantly, they need to buy into the BIM methodology. You’ll have to explain the benefits of the framework and help them understand how they work within it.

The same goes for clients. Some of your clients may feel wary about working within the BIM framework. They may have heard horror stories of escalating costs caused by firms that didn’t implement BIM properly. You may have to assuage those fears. Remember that your clients are collaborators too. Getting them on board makes the transition smoother. It also means that everybody’s ready to go when you start your first BIM project.

Mistake #3 – Copying Your Old Methods

As mentioned, BIM requires a massive organisational change. So, why are you trying to base that change on your old methods? Too many people try to use their old CAD drawings as the basis of their new BIM framework. This is a mistake because your models completely change when you implement BIM.

Remember that you’re now working from a central database. If you achieve BIM Level 3, you’ll also work from a single model. Many of your old methods go out of the window.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t port over anything from your previous processes. People still serve similar roles in the BIM framework. Your designers still need to know how to create detailed and high-quality models. But their methods will change. Designers get access to more information from an earlier stage. Plus, they’re not reworking models as much to demonstrate different subsets of information. If they copy their old working methods, they’re eliminating the time savings that BIM creates.

Mistake #4 – Poor Training

There are several issues that can lead to poor Building Information Modelling training. Failure to understand what BIM is before you start the training is one of them. So too is using a poor certification program. You may not dedicate enough time to the sessions and you may focus on the wrong topics.

This is an understandable issue. BIM is a brand new concept for many, so it’s difficult to build quality training sessions straight away.

Here are some of the things that you can do to provide better training. Firstly, understand that some of your people need different information than others. Your designers must focus their training more on model building. But project managers need to know about the technicalities, such as how you handle contracts in BIM.

Also, ensure the people carrying out the training know what they’re talking about. Their lesson plans must have specific learning outcomes and must focus on relevant topics. Your people can’t learn if their teachers are barely a step ahead of them.

Finally, vary your sessions. A series of dull lectures may convey the information that people need to know. But it’s unlikely that this information will stick. Plus, you’re not giving people a chance to apply the theory in a practical manner. Each training session should confront new topics and provide varied teaching styles.

Your training is the base from which you’ll build your entire BIM framework. Not giving it the attention it needs leads to major problems with your first BIM project.

Mistake #5 – Starting Too Big

You may want to jump right into working with BIM. That’s admirable, but it’s also often a mistake. Your people need time to adapt to the new processes and systems that the methodology introduces. Asking them to do that while working on a huge project is a recipe for disaster. They’re trying to learn on the job while delivering a project that meets the client’s requirements. This is how many firms end up going over budget while using BIM. They don’t fully understand it yet, which causes delays at various points throughout the project.

Stagger the transition. Work on some smaller projects before moving onto the major stuff. This gives you a chance to reinforce all of your training and nail down your processes. Once your team develops that practical understanding of how to use BIM in a work environment, they can handle the big stuff.

Mistake #6 – Delaying Too Much

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This is a problem that affects both firms and universities.

For firms, delays tend to come in the form of new work. You get a new project, which means you divert your attention away from learning BIM. Training sessions get delayed and your people go for longer periods without applying what they learned. When you finally get back to BIM, you find that you need to retrain people. This is because they couldn’t keep their skills sharp thanks to the delays.

It works differently with universities. Delays come because many universities don’t understand the importance of BIM in today’s industry. They see it as something that students can learn when they enter the workforce. Or, they don’t realise that firms want to make the switch as soon as possible. As a result, they focus lessons on other topics and neglect BIM. The end result is that students don’t have the knowledge needed to work within the framework.

Think about the Queensland mandate mentioned above. A first-year student in Queensland will graduate into an environment where almost every firm uses BIM. If universities keep delaying the creation of BIM courses, they do a disservice to their students.

Conclusion

Building Information Modelling is not some methodology that you need to worry about in the future. It’s something that’s happening right now. Many countries already mandate its use for major projects. Australia may be a touch slower in doing so. But the recent mandate from Queensland shows that it’s happening here too.

Firms have to adapt. More importantly, universities do too. Failing to prepare students for working within the BIM framework today means they’re not ready for the industry when they graduate. This means you need teachers who understand the subject and lessons that achieve suitable outcomes.

That’s not always possible. Many universities don’t have teachers who understand BIM well enough to create a strong course related to it. That’s where Archistar Academy can help. We provide several pre-created courses relating to BIM and BIM software packages. With us, you can implement a course that offers proven learning outcomes without placing a greater burden on your teachers.

Do you want to find out more? If so, talk to an Archistar representative today to learn about the courses that we offer.


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Posted on 28 Mar 2019



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