Collaborative & Multidiscipline Working - From Theory to Practice in 48 Hours: A Case Study from BIM Region Northern Ireland

Collaborative & Multidiscipline Working - From Theory to Practice in 48 Hours: A Case Study from BIM Region Northern Ireland

David Comiskey (Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK), Mark McKane (Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK), Eóin O'Shea (PIM Smart, Enniskillen, UK), John Hughes (Semple & McKillop, Belfast, UK), Sean McNiff (WDR & RT Taggart, Belfast, UK) and Robert Eadie (Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJ3DIM.2016040104
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Latest statistics would indicate that the policy related to Building Information Modelling (BIM) implementation is working, with awareness and usage figures for both the UK and Ireland going over the 50% mark for the first time. However, whilst these results are positive, there is a realisation that there is still a distance to travel before BIM use could be considered comprehensive. This would suggest that there is still a need for a greater number of case studies to promote collaborative working practices, the BIM process and the benefits and challenges associated with its use. This paper intends to assist in this regard by documenting the outcomes from a 48-hour BIM competition in which the authors participated. Although the project was hypothetical, it allowed for collaborative working via a cloud based platform, simulating real world practice and many of the working methods required to deliver BIM Level 2. The paper will focus on providing critical analysis of the challenges faced and the lessons to be learnt from the implementation of BIM processes on this project.
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1. Introduction

According to recent research figures from the NBS (2016), BIM awareness within the United Kingdom (UK) construction sector is close to being universal at 96%. The report also indicates that 54% of organisations are now aware of and using BIM. This represented a growth of 6% on the previous year. Findings of a survey jointly undertaken by Enterprise Ireland and CITA (2015) showed that the Republic of Ireland has now overtaken the UK, with 67% indicating that they were confident in delivering BIM projects and 85% indicating an awareness and use of BIM. This is a large increase from a previous survey conducted by The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in 2011, which showed adoption levels of 16% (see Lahiff et al, 2012). The NBS (2016) report also indicates that Northern Ireland leads the way in the UK, with 72% considering that they are BIM adopters in contrast to the East of England with 38%. The Republic of Ireland figure of 67% is similar to the adoption rate in London (66%). This correlates with the findings of the McGraw Hill (2014) report where 68% of owners require BIM in the UK but this suggests that BIM has plateaued in the UK and needs a further impetus.

Construction procurement policy in Northern Ireland (NI) is a devolved matter. That said, the NI BIM policy which was published in the Department of Finance and Personnel Procurement Guidance Note (PGN) (2015a), “broadly aligns with Cabinet Office’s policy to implement BIM Maturity Level 2 in all centrally procured construction projects by 2016.” The NI policy states that; “from 1 April 2016, all Government centrally procured construction projects with a value greater than the EU procurement threshold for construction works (currently £4.35 million) shall, where there is potential for efficiency savings, be delivered to BIM Maturity Level 2.”

Studies, albeit small scale, such as that undertaken by Eadie et al. (2014) demonstrated a growing awareness that BIM will have a major impact on the construction sector. This has resulted in firms involved in the design and delivery of central government projects realising that BIM working processes are required and have undertaken the necessary investment in training, software and hardware to up skill accordingly. Indeed, many are now reaping the benefits of such investment through successful tenders at a UK wide level. The publication of the PGN 03/15 in November 2015 (DFP, 2015) has also accelerated change and challenged those involved, or wanting to be considered for such projects, to become competent in BIM processes.

The small population of NI, slightly over 1.8 million (NISRA, 2015), and the rural makeup means that the majority of construction related firms would be considered to be relatively small scale. Indeed, publications by the Department of Finance and Personnel (2015b) and the Federation of Small Businesses (2009), would suggest that the majority would fall under the European Commission definition of a Micro Enterprise, in terms of annual turnover and number of employees (see European Commission (2015, p.14).

Even though the adoption figures for Northern Ireland in the NBS Report (2016) appear quite high, there is a caveat in that the respondents to the survey from Northern Ireland were low at 3%, with those involved in BIM related work most likely to undertake the survey. However, it shows that the UK and Ireland lead Australia in relation to BIM adoption. Newton and Chileshe (2012) indicate that 83% of South Australian construction companies have not adopted BIM in any form. Monazam et al (2016) indicate that this is still around 52% in 2016 indicating a need for examination of smaller organisations. Furthermore, McGraw Hill (2014) suggest that in the United States that only 25% of owners require BIM on their projects but do not segregate the findings by organization size.

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