Singapore’s BIM Mandate Raises Questions About Similar Measures in Australia
Singapore’s BIM Mandate Raises Questions About Similar Measures in Australia
Building Information Modelling has taken the industry by storm. What BIM is not is a simple process that you can learn. It requires massive internal change. But many countries, including Singapore, now mandate its use.
You’ve probably heard of Building Information Modelling (BIM) before. It’s not a new concept. In fact, many firms believe that it’s the way that they’ll do business for many years to come.
Despite this, it’s yet to achieve the full-scale adoption that you might expect. While many firms have made the switch, many more hesitate. There are several reasons behind this. Some firms believe that they don’t have the resources to make the change. Others may be so set in their ways that they’re actively resisting it. Some may want to switch, but don’t think they need to start planning for it just yet.
Unfortunately, you can’t wait around. Building Information Modelling isn’t an idea to toy around with for a little while. It’s becoming the industry standard. You can see this when you examine just how many governments now mandate its use on major projects. Firms that don’t adapt risk placing serious limitations on themselves in the future.
Some Australian states are already in the process of making BIM mandatory for some projects. But several countries are well ahead of us. Take Singapore as an example. In 2014, the Singaporean government mandated BIM submissions for building projects of more than 5,000 square feet. It has a two-fold goal for this move.
Firstly, it wants to use Building Information Modelling to offer faster building permitting. It sees BIM as a means to streamline applications. This leads to the second goal. Singapore believes that faster permitting leads to more construction activity. In fact, the government estimates that productivity increases by up to 30% when using BIM.
Australian state governments see similar benefits. That’s why some have introduced similar mandates. For your firm to adapt, you need to know what BIM is and why it’s become so popular. This article explains why Building Information Modelling will dictate your firm’s future.
What is BIM?
That’s the big question. Surprisingly, many firms still struggle with it. This is despite the fact that the Building Information Modelling concept has existed since the 1960s. Of course, the industry couldn’t use the concept back then. The technology wasn’t available. However, advances in digital design software and cloud computing made BIM plausible.
So, what is it?
BIM allows you to create a digital model of a building. So far, that makes it sound like any digital design software package. The difference lies in how BIM helps you to achieve this.
Traditionally, architects silo themselves away from other project stakeholders when designing. They create their models and concepts. Once they’re accepted, they start making adjustments based on the information they get from other stakeholders. It’s a long and drawn-out process that causes many inefficiencies.
Building Information Modelling changes all of that. It gets every stakeholder involved from the very beginning of the project. With BIM, you create a central database that contains all of the relevant project data. Everybody involved, from clients through to designers, has access to this database.
Here’s why this is so important. This access allows all stakeholders to share information and data. This shared data then informs the model building process. Architects don’t have to create a model and then adapt it to the data later. They have access to the information that informs the design from the very beginning.
In essence, Building Information Modelling creates a more collaborative project environment. It also allows for the creation of graphical models that link directly to the data. Changes to the data cause changes in the model. Moreover, you can use the model to access the data. For example, highlighting a pillar in the model may show you important data about that pillar. This could include the cost of building it and the materials used.
The end result is a more accurate model thanks to more efficient information flow.
There are also several levels of BIM. You can use these levels to figure out how close your firm is to adopting Building Information Modelling. They are as follows:
- Level 0. This relates to any firm that uses very traditional methods in their work. Often, such firms only create 2D CAD drawings. They may not create 3D models. Plus, they won’t collaborate with other project stakeholders throughout the project. Very few firms fall into the Level 0 category in the modern age.
- Level 1. This is the level that most of today’s firms are currently at. There’s more collaboration at Level 1. Plus, you’ll create more models and use digital design software more extensively. However, each stakeholder manages and shares its own data. It’s not all in a single database for everybody to access. As a result, work can get delayed if one stakeholder fails to share information at a critical point.
- Level 2. This is the level that most think of when they think of Building information Modelling. Level 2 doesn’t necessarily mean that you have one shared graphical design. But it does involve the use of a central database. All stakeholders have access to this database and can add or edit information as needed. At this level, all stakeholders also make the effort to ensure the accessibility of their information. This usually means using common file formats and leveraging cloud computing.
- Level 3. This is perhaps the gold standard of Building Information Modelling. At Level 3, you have a single model and complete sharing of project information. The information informs the design of the model. This sharing also means that conflicts don’t become a problem. Every change gets reflected at every level of the project. Plus, every stakeholder can see the change and its effects as soon as it’s made.
At minimum, a firm should aim for Level 2 if it wishes to adopt the BIM methodology. However, it’s Level 3 that the industry appears to want to work towards.
Why Make the Change?
So, that explains what BIM is. But why has the industry started pushing towards it so heavily? And why do so many national and state governments want to mandate its use?
There are several benefits of BIM that explain this. Here we’re going to look at some of the reasons why Singapore mandates the use of BIM. Hopefully, this will also explain why other nations want to do the same.
Benefit #1 – Faster Permitting
This is one of the main benefits of BIM that Singapore wants to take advantage of. Every building proposal must go through a regulatory phase. This is when various regulatory bodies assess the information. They do this to confirm the building meets their standards.
Traditionally, this meant pulling information about the proposed building from different sources. Regulators have to wait until they gather everything together. This means that the project team also has to wait.
But the single model and central database used in BIM change that. Regulators have access to all of the information that they need in one place. This allows them to streamline the permitting process. The use of BIM can save weeks, or even months, worth of time that would otherwise get wasted.
Benefit #2 – Improved Productivity
The improvements that BIM offers to productivity work on two levels.
Firstly, let’s come back to the permitting issue. Faster permitting means less dead time between submitting a proposal and getting it approved. The end result is faster design and construction. A firm could theoretically build more structures per year thanks to BIM. In fact, the Singaporean government estimates that BIM increases construction activity by up to 30%.
Building Information Modelling also improves productivity at the project level. Having access to all the information needed in one location also gets rid of waiting times.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you’re designing a building but need information about the electrical setup. Without BIM, you have to request that information. Somebody has to send it to you and you have to enter it manually into the model. This takes time and creates the risk of you making mistakes.
With BIM, you already have that information available via the database. As a result, you’ve built your model with that information in mind from the start. There’s less waiting and a greater degree of accuracy in your model. Again, this means you produce work faster.
Benefit #3 – Less Reworking
You’ll usually create several models to account for the different building disciplines. Each of these models demonstrates one subset of the information that you have available. For example, you may create a model that shows how electrical circuits run through a building. Another model may show the plumbing or the structure’s thermal properties.
Doing this requires a lot of reworking. You have to create several models, all based on the same base model.
BIM eliminates all of that reworking. The information gets pulled into a single model. Moreover, most BIM software packages allow you to filter the information so you only see what’s relevant.
That’s not all. The graphical model’s links to the database’s information also allow for less reworking. Any update gets reflected immediately in the model. This allows for automated component counting and configuration, which means less reworking.
Benefit #4 – Better Collaboration
Every building and structural project is a collaborative achievement. It’s not all the work of an architect or engineer alone. You’ll work with several professionals, as well as your client, to achieve the end result.
The quality of that collaboration affects the quality of the end product. BIM provides you with the tools needed to communicate more effectively with project stakeholders.
Again, it comes down to that central database that everybody has access to. Everybody can see as soon as somebody makes a change. At Level 3 BIM, informational changes have a direct effect on the model. This allows each stakeholder to check the work of all other project stakeholders. Edits and adjustments get made quicker and conflicts get caught out. Nobody has to wait around for somebody else to tell them what’s happening. They can see for themselves and provide their own expertise immediately.
Benefit #5 – Better Presentations
Building Information Modelling doesn’t just offer operational benefits. It can also help firms to attract more clients.
The use of BIM results in a more accurate model. That’s likely what the Singaporean government wants to achieve with its mandate. It wants to see pitches that offer an accurate reflection of the end result.
Your private clients are the same. Presenting a model doesn’t mean much if the final structure changes upon the introduction of more information. BIM creates better presentations because of its higher degree of accuracy.
It’s Not Just Singapore
As mentioned at the top of the article, it’s not just Singapore that wants to see more BIM. Other governments have issued similar mandates.
The United Kingdom is a good example. In 2015, it told firms that all centrally-funded work would have to follow the BIM framework from 2016 onwards.
Australia has been a little slower to adopt BIM on such a wide scale. But it’s happening. Queensland recently released a similar mandate. It wants the use of BIM in all major state infrastructural projects by the end of 2023.
The point is that the use of BIM isn’t really a choice for many firms anymore. You need to adopt the methodology if you want to work on public sector projects. It’s likely that private firms around the world will adopt similar requirements in the coming years.
This international shift to BIM presents two issues. Firstly, it means that firms and current professionals have to adapt. They must learn what BIM is and how to work within its framework. If they don’t, they’ll struggle to attract work in the future.
However, it also means that universities have to change the way they teach. A focus on digital design software is no longer enough. To prepare students properly for the industry, you have to teach them about BIM.
Unfortunately, many universities aren’t equipped to do that. That’s why you should contact Archistar Academy. We’ve created a range of courses that teach the essentials of BIM. We also provide courses related to the software used in BIM projects.
With us, you’ll improve student outcomes and have a lesson framework to work from. To find out more, contact an Archistar consultant today.
If you would like to share your thoughts on our blog, we’d love to hear from you!
Get in touch with the ArchiStar Academy community via Facebook.
Posted on 15 Nov 2019