Event review: BIM Breakfast

Around 150 people attend the first of a new series of CW seminars

The panel discusses the best way to take advantage of BIM.
The panel discusses the best way to take advantage of BIM.

From the beginning of this year, architectural and building services consultants working in Dubai have had to employ BIM (Building Information Modelling) on major projects to obtain Dubai Municipality approval.

The implementation of DM Circular 196 means a more rigid code of practice from the initial drawing up of designs through to a completed project must be adopted using the technology.

BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building. But it also goes further, by enabling a virtual 3D model underpinned by enriched data to be handed from a design team to the main contractor and any subcontractors working on a building, and then on to the owner and the operator as work progresses. At each stage of the process, experts add their own expertise to a single, shared model.

How the technology will impact the design and construction industry was the subject of our inaugural BIM Breakfast event, which Construction Week co-hosted with sister titles Middle East Architect and MEP Middle East at Dubai’s Ritz Carlton Hotel, DIFC, on June 11. Introducing the event was Professor Mohammed Dulaimi, an expert in project management and innovation who lectures at the British University in Dubai.

He said: “BIM has been around for a few years now and it can certainly deliver better solutions. We need to share knowledge of how best to use it as a community.”

Just six members of the audience raised their hands when asked if they considered themselves fully versed in BIM. And the vast majority said they had come to learn from the expert panel of speakers the best way to gain the advantages three dimensional design offers.

Marek Suchocki of BIM software provider Autodesk outlined its use in high-profile projects in the region, such as the Qatar Rail development, as well as on overseas schemes such as the UK’s new high-speed railway line linking London and Birmingham, and a new international airport serving Denver.

“BIM mandates are growing globally,” he said. “By learning what they need to do well, companies will ultimately gain more work.” He said that UK estimates say firms could make a 20% saving on projects by ensuring they get them right with the original model.

Elizabeth Peters and Sanoop Dinesh of Aecom outlined the technology’s practical application by highlighting their company’s work on the King Khalid Medical City - a 1,500 bed facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Medical facilities are some of the most complex projects in the construction sector,” said Peters, who is the firm’s BIM lead for buildings and places across the UAE.

“The stakes are very high [when designing hospitals] so the information has to be correct. Healthcare is also a growing market, 13.1% for the next five years. A lot of money is going to be spent in a short time frame so it is up to people to innovate.”

Dinesh said that BIM allowed Aecom’s architects in the USA, MEP team in India, technical support workers in Australia and the team on the ground in Saudi Arabia to share real-time information.

“Communication is the key when it comes to BIM,” he said.

Andrew Milburn is associate at architecture firm Godwin Austen Johnson, who spoke of the “phases of a BIM addict”.

He emphasised how its real-time feedback allows everyone involved in a project to stay in touch with what is happening – and called on more suppliers to get involved.

“We also have to consider BIM in a broader sense,” he said. “It is a wonderful way of recording the building process and techniques, which otherwise would be lost.

“Currently it is all about the competitive edge - bigger, better, faster.

“But it needs to be applied elsewhere. It could be used to look at sustainability and a building’s impact on the environment. It could be used to keep track of recycled material (or)to engage the marketplace by encouraging community input into the planning process.

“Health and safety could be improved by showing workers how to move safely round a site.”

Milburn said the industry should all work together to maximise BIM’s benefits.

“It’s a personal journey we have to make, but it is also a journey we can make together – let’s all hold hands and move forward.”

Andrew Killander, vice president for major projects at Aconex, said: “It is clear that BIM is the way forward – the way we have to go.

“One advantage is that clients actually get it. They can see the schematics more easily. It’s as though they can see, feel and touch a project. By observing the interaction between clients and those designing and building a structure we see a greater amount of collaboration – and the end result is so much better.”

The next event is planned for September.

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Jun 29, 2020