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Book Review

The Impact of Building Information Modelling: Transforming Construction

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The Impact of Building Information Modelling: Transforming Construction
By Ray Crotty
Spon Press, Oxford. £36.99

Ray Crotty’s new book sets out the reasons why bim will change the world

Thousands of UK construction industry professionals are desperate to understand more about what bim will mean for them, their companies, clients and projects. Bim events are selling out fast, and, for the first time in over a decade, there is renewed debate about the role of information and communications technologies to support project planning, design, construction and future operation and maintenance.

Ray Crotty is a construction industry veteran with a long-standing involvement in IT. As a founder of the UK chapter of BuildingSMART, he was at the forefront in debates about interoperability (exchange of data between different IT systems), and he writes knowledgeably about Information Foundation Classes and other initiatives in his account of the development of cad and bim, and includes some useful case studies.

However, this book is not about how to do bim. It explains why we should adopt bim.

Crotty’s premise is that traditional drawing-based information is prone to errors and so is inherently untrustworthy, and is also un-computable. Bim, by contrast, both improves the quality of information, and provides mechanisms to enable seamless interchange of data between the various systems deployed during project delivery.

So it will help us do what we’ve always done, but far more efficiently? Yes, but the potential impact of bim is far greater in Crotty’s view; many transactions can be more or less completely automated, changing the nature of construction industry in the same way that computer integrated manufacturing and electronic point-of-sale systems have revolutionised manufacturing and retail.

“The end-to-end stream of bim data will help unify the industry’s supply chains, freeing construction from its craft origins, transforming it into a modern, sophisticated branch of the manufacturing industry,” he says.

The final chapters of the book look at how other industries have tackled information challenges, and Crotty contrasts the disappointing history to date of construction investment in IT before looking at what happens when you can build construction projects using perfect design information.

This is where the potential transformation is described most clearly, for this is a book about how bim will change construction, making it a truly global — and connected — industry.

Paul Wilkinson, pwcom.co.uk, is a writer, blogger and consultant on construction collaboration technologies and related fields

bd and Building Present BIM Show Live, a 2 day conference and exhibition taking place on the 9 and 10 May 2012 at the Business Design Centre, London. Visit www.bimshowlive.co.uk to register.

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Readers' comments (10)

  • Mike Duriez

    What is interesting to consider is the higher skill, organisation and responsibility levels for using a BIM model. How will this fit with the traditional hire and fire system (of semi-competent CAD-monkeys) which has been used in the UK in the last decades?

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  • BIM will do nothing to improve the generally very poor standard of architectural and urban design. Indeed it is likely to make things worse.

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  • "...freeing construction from its craft origins, transforming it into a modern, sophisticated branch of the manufacturing industry."

    This is what we should be fighting against, the erosion of skilled jobs and craftspersons has had and will continue to have a massively detrimental impact on architecture and the built environment in the UK.

    Lets have a flight to quality, not a race to the bottom.

    ps. I am a BIM user, but it is only a tool. People build buildings not processes.

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  • How about a special feature on pencils? I think pencils are going to transform the way we do architecture. But you need a lot of training before you know how to use a pencil.

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  • zecks_marquise

    i think the main problem is that most 'BIM experts' are tools

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  • I can just see the brickies, chippies and sparkies on site carrying their tablet pc's round, covered in compo and sawdust... at least they won't be able to use them for wrapping their sarnies in!

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  • Please don't take my last comment the wrong way, its not meant as any reflection on the guys on site, but the way the industry is going - sites are places where drawings suffer - heaven help construction costs if all the tablets and i-pads don't last the course - unless 'rugged' units are to be used at horrendous cost.

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  • Please advise will BIM answer or even deal with Design Warranty
    related to manufacturers / suppliers .
    Question from a none BIM user .

    Anthony Doody MCIAT
    Chartered Architectural Technologist

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  • Having completed a 10 module BIM course I confess to having mixed views about it.

    In terms of quick and dirty forms for explaining / investigating a design in 3D - Google Sketchup is far simpler to use, far more intuitive and is free for the non-pro version, which also will run on almost any computer post 2002.

    BIM OTOH requires more resources and is vastly more expensive to install, train to use, and run. As a means of drawing off quantities it is accurate up to a point, but I would be very wary of putting it on a pedestal.

    Other CAD packages, such as the FAR cheaper ProgeCAD can include tags for components. None do the job of a quantity surveyor or an architectural technician, never mind a CAD draughtsman.

    Issues arising on site are preceded by issues at design stage, and some architects simply cannot "talk" to machines. They need people. And those people need jobs.

    Hard-selling another AutoDesk product in a recession isn't doing anyone any favours. And I see the other article pushing it is restricted to paid subscribers.

    GET OVER YOURSELVES BDONLINE!

    DON'T BECOME A BIM RESELLER!

    We're in a recession partly because we believed the line that paying top money to executives brought in competence - in Banks, it doesn't!
    Similarly paying huge money for software packages doesn't bring in work or ensure that competent work is done.

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  • I've used bim since 1998. The problem is that to understand use bim you need to properly understand construction, and assemblies, and details, and how they go together in reality. The parrot method of copying and pasting 2d details which has been used to train architects since the transition to the drawing board without going to site and seeing how things go together in sequence. This has de skilled the profession and to survive were going to have to take a lot of cad monkeys to a lot of sites to catch up. The other problem is that those with the skills are generally those at the lower end of the pay scale and in no position to properly implement the required workflow and fee loading changes necessary to make it work.

    For adviceon how we make it work email training@constructivethinking.co.uk
    (No apologies for theplug)

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