When will BIM reach its full potential in the GCC?

Industry experts tell CW that contractors and consultants are working to increase awareness and adoption of BIM in the Middle East in a bid to realise the technology’s full potential

SPECIAL REPORTS, Sectors, BIM, BIM technology, Construction, Consultants, Contractors, Gcc, Middle east, Technology

Although the technology of building information modelling (BIM) is not new to the construction industry, the process of implementing it across all projects is still evolving, especially in the Middle East.

When BIM first emerged in the market, the contractors merely saw it as a tool to generate 2D drawings for design changes. However, as the construction industry began to adopt models for better coordination, contractors and consultants started to realise the importance of BIM. Today, regional experts say that one of the major trends in BIM that they have seen across the region – and more widely around the world – is the use of related processes to prefabricate entire building components.

Faizal Kottikollon, founder and chairman of KEF Holdings, says: “Traditionally, the impression has been that modular and prefabricated building components constrain the limits of the design, but through the use of BIM, the flexibility in design increases hugely. No matter how unique the design is, by using BIM, we can identify how the model can be constructed, and then produce and install it.”

The UAE-based holding company is currently executing all of its ongoing projects with BIM level-two standards, and working towards the adoption of BIM level three. One of its current projects is the construction of world’s tallest clock tower for its client, Infosys, at its Mysore Campus in India.

A significant advantage that comes from using BIM on a construction project is the ability to visualise the expected and the actual progress throughout the entire lifecycle. Communicating a project schedule visually is a useful when it comes to facilitating onsite collaboration with sub-contractors.

Ravikumar KS, director for international operations at Oman-based S&T Interiors and Contracting, says: “The adoption of BIM is a trend that continues to grow. As jobsite regulations become tighter, prefabrication practices become safer and more cost effective, and technological improvements are fine-tuned towards specific industries or trades.”

Over the last 18 months, S&T has used BIM on three projects in Oman and two projects in overseas markets. The three projects in Oman consist of a large residential complex, a hospitality project, and a premium mixed-use development in Muscat. Two projects are ongoing, and construction documentation is currently in progress.

But to date, the use of BIM is still limited to large-scale projects. With GCC governments issuing BIM mandates, there has been a scramble to implement the technology. But industry insiders believe that contractors have a long way to go when it comes to understanding the full potential of this technology.

Oman-based architect and designer, kgdmt | architects + engineers, which has worked on projects like the Alila Salalah resort, agrees that the country has yet to see the full capacity of the technology. Ranjay Judge, the firm’s director, says: “BIM is gaining traction in Oman, but clients are still apprehensive to cough up huge amounts of money for this premium service. If they invest now, then the client will benefit in the long term.”

Another issue with the implementation of BIM is the lack of proper awareness among the industry peers. S&T’s Ravikumar says: “Awareness of BIM amongst consultants and contractors is limited. Since adopting the process requires changes in workflow, practices and procedures, only a handful have taken the initiative to use BIM.”

Kottikollon of KEF believes that the scenario is changing, however. He explains: “Over the next decade, I am confident that we will see widespread adoption of the processes across the globe, as contractors and firms begin to see the positive impacts of BIM, such as the business benefits, large projects, and the improved workflow in general.

“Additionally, government mandates such as the one by the Dubai Municipality or the UK government are crucial for increasing firms’ understanding of BIM, as well as incentivising them to adopt it.”

As cloud technology continues to advance, construction firms will be able to access data throughout project lifecycles, further enhancing the value of BIM. As data accessibility increases, contractors and sub-contractors will be more likely to look to projects where BIM-related methods are being used to their fullest potential.

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