BIM to become part of public procurement process

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The government’s chief construction adviser Paul Morell has indicated that Building Information Modelling (BIM) will become a key part of the procurement of public buildings.

Speaking at Autodesk’s BIM Conference yesterday, Morrell indicated that bidders and contractors on future public building projects would be asked to use BIM.

“I am convinced that this is the way to unlock new ways of working that will reduce cost and add long-term value to the development and management of built assets in the public sector, but the move needs to be made on a basis that is secure, that works for government clients and those who deliver services to them, and which draws on proven means of integrating the supply chain,” said Morrell.

A trial team is currently testing the use of BIM in government projects and will report its findings to the Construction Clients Board in March. Morrell said that he hoped that the report would “mark the beginning of a commitment to a timed programme of transformation”.

BIM is a 3D modelling system that involves data sharing between all the contractors on a project to create a digital model that can be used from a project’s early design stages through to completion and monitoring of subsequent performance.

“We believe that yesterday’s recommendation to UK government construction procurers will drive industry change, just as similar decisions by the government have in the US,” said Autodesk vice-president Phil Bernstein.   

“We also believe that these clear incentives will encourage the use of BIM methodology by government and the wider construction industry. They will provide better value for construction spend while enhancing environmentally responsible building design, construction and operation.” 


Readers' comments (18)

  • Whilst it is encouraging to hear government backing for BIM, the gap between reality and Paul Morrell's words leaves me with the impression that this is another hollow government incentive. Its telling that he speaks of a 'trial team'. Every big consultant and contractor can point to a trial that has occurred some time in the last ten or more years. However when you look at the rate of uptake on second projects its very low.

    To be talking about the use of BIM models in the context of lifetime asset management, when most trials don't go beyond drawing production and basic scheduling, indicates just how far Morrell's vision is adrift from the general industry ambition. The detailed grain of the problems that a project runs up against remained unexplored:

    * Who will pay for the early design costs involved in additional modelling that are required for coordination in 3D?
    * How can an earlier stage models be coordinated meaningfully, when most M+E works are performance specified pre-tender?
    * How will the uncomfortable fit between BIM for design development and documentation and BIM for costing, procurement and construction be resolved?

    Later yesterday one of my colleagues saw Morrell speaking again at Constructing Excellence G4C (a group for future industry leaders). She was surprised that one of the focuses of his dialogue was that contractors would lead the push for collaborative BIM and consultants would follow. This opinion is 12 or more months out of date. Now the general discussion with contractors is focussed on the needs and requirements of each professional discipline, architects included to maximise the benefit of a project model. In many ways the main contractor is now a member of the profession consultant team, the more enlightened ones realise this and they want to talk. Let's not forget that BIM is used from design to completion. At some time in the future it will be used for asset management too.

    A radical shift that would be far more useful in the context of collaboration would be for the government to insist that all software vendors who wished to enter the UK government market provide building and business data in an open exchange format.

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  • A sharp pencil does not automatically mean an interesting or even cheaper drawing.

    Mindless Rhetoric!

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  • Sounds like AutoDesk is having some success at lobbying to have the government give Revit some demand-side pull !

    I would be interested to see how much research went into his 'vision'.

    I think the government would do well to look in the mirror, and start with the way local authorities handle and process plans! If Morell really wants to instigate structural efficiencies, he should like at 'BIM' at the city or regional level, where real benefits can be derived and where only the government has the resources, horizons, and the terms of reference to act.

    Put the IT 'infrastructure' in place at that level, and the building scale stuff will follow. Right now, I don't think there are any BIM apps that are worth the hassle. The US is ahead in terms of jumping on the BIM bandwagon, and look at the way the original CURT, GSA and Army Corp of Engineers BIM deliverables have changed / dumbed down due to various problems, to the point I struggle to see how they can still provide the benefits promised.

    Another way the government could help is to pressure AD to open up both DWG and RVT. This would reduce a huge cost burden for the whole industry pretty quickly, without any of the risk and disruption that comes with the adoption of unproven technology / work practices.

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  • How will BIM reduce preferred bid contractors substantial profit margins / markups?

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  • James Austin

    I'm dissapointed at the comments above. BIM is a real solution to the challenges of the current market. We are facing increasing demands to make things better, cheaper and faster and legislation to meet environmental targets will become increasingly onerous in the years to come.
    As architects we must face the fact that we are part of a service indusrty and if we don't react to clients demands for whatever reason, then we shall face a further dilution of our profession. I think its a real shame more people are not willing to embrace positive change that can dramatically alter the face of the profession and what we have to offer. BIM actually gives us the chance to bring the architect back to the heart of the process - something we have increasingly distanced oursleves from as a profession in recent times. Our skills lie in design, and BIM enables us to do a better job of it.

    Just my personal point of view, but rather than being afraid lets try and see the opportunity instead. You just have to look at the US, where BIM is now the prevalent process.

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  • Hold on James.

    No one has rubbished BIM they are pointing out it in itself does not equate to what the Paul Morrel is claiming BIM will accomplish.

    I personally think Revit has great potential but it is also simply a tool not an intellect replacement and has it's own cost associated with it.

    It is very easy to posit a magic bit of software to release us from all our troubles.

    Paul is clearly a pre war modernist in the truest sense.....

    WW1 however, cured most people of the dream technology would save humanity and made people realise it was down to people.

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  • Simon Kaufman

    Hold on a second! the Politicians are telling us how to DRAW our buildings now? Telling us what CAD software to use?!?!!?

    Apart from the majority of architects not yet using BIM, it is far from tried and tested -no matter how appealing the Autodesk Sales representative's spiel seems when he visits your office - there are several major drawbacks to using it.

    You do your Job, Mr. Morell, and I will do mine - and as building designer I will decide how and when I will use BIM.

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  • Keith Tomlinson

    I don't think anyone is telling architects what software to use nor to I believe that CAD software is a requirement for designing good buildings. But CAD and BIM do provide us Architects with extraordinarily powerful tools to help us.

    In Germany, where I live, BIM has been widely adopted for many years now, mainly because it is such a useful and effective tool rather than because architects have been "told to do so". Of course BIM is not just Autodesk and Revit (powerful as these tools are) Over here Nemetschek Allplan, Graphisoft Archicad, and Autodesk Architecture are already widely used and bring very real benefits to the design process.

    The whole point of BIM is that you are not drawing the building, but rather you are modeling it. The result is a fully co-ordinated database from which all the project documentation is automatically derived. Delete a door or window and ALL views are automatically updated. GA's, Sections, Elevations, Schedules etc.

    Of course everything with an upside also has it's downside. The learning curve for BIM (my experience is with Revit) is rather steeper than Autodesk and others would have us all believe. There is also the intial financial outlay to consider although I shudder to think how many fruitless hours are wasted by Architects banging their heads against the limitations of Autocad LT (a false economy if ever there was one).

    For me the main limitation of Revit is that the implementation of construction detailing into the software is rather "clunky" at the moment. But this is quite easily overcome by drafting construction details using 2D CAD and reserving Revit for GA's Elevations, Sections, and Schedules and Revit provides tools to facilitate this. Revit, Autocad, and 3DS Max already integrate rather well and I am sure will continue to improve.

    There is certainly quite some way to go before BIM becomes the perfect design tool but it already provides an VERY powerful and effective toolset for those who are prepared to invest the time and effort. Certainly most architects over here in Germany would not wish to return to 2D CAD drafting

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  • Arto Kiviniemi

    Cadworkshop described the situation well already, but I want to continue the story a bit: Several big clients, especially in USA and Nordic countries, have demanded the delivery of BIM information already since 2007. Why would the situation be different in UK in the future?

    The question is not about telling how architects should do their work, but what information architects, engineers and contractors must deliver to the clients in the future, and in some extent also in which format so that the data is usable in the integrated processes, simulations and life cycle management of buildings. The requirement is not to use Revit or any other specific software, but to share the data in open BIM format. The efficient utilization of data helps clients to make informed decisions and our industry to respond to the environmental challenges, as well as to increase the productivity if we develop our processes too. Although there is without doubt some "overselling", there are definitely also success stories and evidence of measurable benefits if you look at the international studies of BIM and IPD.

    Those designers who cannot accept the requirements of their clients will be simply out of the projects.

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  • I think you get to the point Arto when you say that the requirement is to "share the data in open BIM format". I notice that there is no mention in Anna Winston's article about IFC, the universal BIM format. I will soon be attending an event at which Mr Morell is giving a talk and will be very interested to see whether submitting of BIM projects in IFC will be part of the procurement process.

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