David Jellings, Managing Director of BIMobject UK, looks at some of the challenges facing suppliers, constructors, clients and estates managers as we enter the age of digital data management.
Of course, everyone involved in the professional construction and management environment has now heard of BIM (Building Information Modelling). Many have, with varying degrees of success, implemented BIM on projects. Others have continued to use traditional methods—possibly initially hoping that BIM was just a transient fad. The era of uncertainty is now over, BIM is entrenched globally. This article examines some of the key considerations that will ultimately lead to success or failure.
First and foremost, BIM itself. BIM is a business process, a collaborative way of thinking and working, that ensures all stakeholders have access to the information they need, when they need it.
BIM is not a technology, though technology is needed to drive the process. Believing BIM to be ‘just a technology’, will inevitably lead to failure.
For BIM to succeed it needs data—the fuel that feeds the process. BIM without data is like a car without an engine—it looks the part but is going nowhere. Data comes from many sources, including regulatory, legal, site conditions, products, building use, costs, design and planning to name but a few.
Taking a step back and looking at the basics, demonstrates that all construction is essentially an assembly of building components—from essentials, such as roofing, bricks and mortar, through to services, fixtures, fittings and finishing. These components/assemblies, or objects—provide a fundamental data source for design, construction and facility management.
However, there is a potential problem. In the BIM world there is a huge amount of data, growing at an almost exponential rate. If the data is not harnessed and directed; if it is poor quality; if it is unrecognisable/unreadable; if it can be corrupted; if it can be affected by any or all of these factors, then the best-case scenario, is that BIM will fail.
From its inception in 2011, addressing these issues was the raison d’être of BIMobject®. Originally started to provide building product manufacturers with a service to develop, host and distribute objects in a BIM environment, BIMobject® is now the global leader, by a huge margin—with a professional user base close to one million and much sought-after methodologies and opinions.
To have reached this position in such a short time is a clear endorsement of the proven benefits it provides to suppliers and users. Essentially BIMobject® is a cloud-based data management system that hosts multiple file types, (including BIM object models, designs, data sheets, assemblies, manuals etc.), in one unique location that can be accessed and downloaded into project models, from anywhere—without the need for expensive or complex software.
The data can be reconnected every time the model is linked to the internet, so from this unique location, providing a ‘Single Source of Truth’, which—unlike conventional files, where access is lost once downloaded—means that the data owner always provides the user with current and correct information. The content management structure also means that, if required, data can be restricted and access granted only by the owner.
This ability to control single source data access – increasingly recognised by suppliers, designers, engineers and constructors – has now been extended to client groups (including UK government estates), who need to manage their specific data in a secure, by invitation only, environment.