I firmly believe that our industry will be revolutionised by the adoption of new technology and processes over the course of the next couple of decades.
Powerful new tools are finally beginning to put digital information at the heart of design and construction decision making, and the functionality provided by these programs is evolving and diversifying at an electric pace.
In parallel to this, the construction industry as a whole is beginning to embrace processes and workflows born of other industries that are leading to significant efficiency savings and quality improvements. Rightly or wrongly, the term our industry has chosen to attribute to all of these changes is "BIM".
What actually is "BIM"?
Building Information Modelling is the one size fits all brand for the disruptive digital wave beginning to wash across our industry. But the actual term "BIM" is very ambiguous, and can mean very different things to different people.
The UK Government has done a huge amount to develop some consensus of opinion on the subject which has helped to motivate our industry to change, but even this is a subset of all that is BIM and many aspects of how it can be applied are not included in UK BIM “Level” definitions. Despite a general lack of clarity regarding a firm overall definition, it has been clear for some time that BIM has the potential to effect huge change in our industry, but in order to observe this change we first need to define a baseline. This is the problem that a few of my colleagues and I sought to resolve for Arup towards the beginning of 2013.
Design and launch of the BIMmm
The BIM Maturity Measure (BIMmm) as it is now known (it was called the “Dipstick” whilst in development) is a simple tool for assessing the extent to which BIM has been used on a project. The criteria used in the measure is our attempt at breaking down the broader idea of BIM into all of its constituent parts, both in terms of how a project might apply BIM as a whole and how each discipline might also choose to use it. Measuring our BIM adoption in this way has provided us with a means of determining a company-wide baseline for continuously monitoring the progress of our evolving BIM maturity. The fact this this baseline is derived from our projects themselves means that this feedback is an accurate reflection of what is being done at the coalface across the business, thus making the feedback collected much more valuable.
Arup chose to roll out the tool globally within 6 months of its development, but at the end of 2014 we also decided to make the BIMmm freely available on our website for any company to download and use for themselves. The reason for doing this was twofold:
- the credibility of the tool can only be enhanced by other companies using it; and
- to promote the adoption of BIM by breaking down the term into criteria that everybody can understand.
Some in the industry will question why Arup would choose to give a tool such as this away for free, but I believe we all operate at our best when we are challenged by others, and encouraging our peers to assess their BIM maturity will in turn drive us all to continually improve our own standards and processes.
Taking the tool forward
BIM has come a long way since the end of 2013 and so have our ambitions for the BIMmm. Arup and Atkins, industry peers, have recently co-published a new version of the tool which incorporates feedback from Atkins that improves upon what was originally created. The new version of the tool has also now been made available on the ICE website , the BIM4sme website as well as through Arup. Working collaboratively in this way only reaffirms our original reasons for releasing the tool publicly and it has prompted additional discussions to expand our efforts in this area further. Watch this space!
To date BIMmm scores have been generated for approximately 300 Arup projects and Atkins are well under way with collecting scores from across their global business. If you think your business would benefit from assessing BIM maturity on your projects then please try the tool for yourself, and keep an eye out for more opportunities to shape its development.
About the author
Andrew is MEP BIM Manager for Arup. He has worked on a wide variety of new build and refurbishment projects whilst with Arup and has helped to deliver designs for buildings located all over the globe including the Middle East, South America, Far East Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom. Construction budgets for these buildings range from a few hundred thousand pounds to sites with a number of buildings costing upwards of £100 million.
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