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BIM : Reducing complexity without losing clarity

Posted: 23rd January 2014

Louise Dawes
BIM Consultant
Clearbox Limited

Introduction by Ashley Beighton, BIM Process Manager for The Clarkson Alliance

Demonstrating that BIM can be used effectively on smaller construction projects has been an indirect consequence of our Technology Strategy Board co-funded project. Having come onboard an existing project and introduced BIM to a Worthing Homes housing development, our aim is to explore the changes in behaviours that BIM raises as well as its benefits.

By participating in a research project, it has given us opportunity to learn and share in a way that we wouldn’t be able to do if it was commercially sensitive. So far, we have discovered that by intelligently scaling down existing BIM documents and standards, they become more relevant for smaller projects – the Worthing Homes project is £1-2million; there is a move away from a single stage tender process and the importance of setting up a robust Employers Information Requirement to frame everything around and focussing on an early asset model are all key.

Most of our findings have impacted clients and designers but we are not on this journey alone. Over the course of this year, our partners Clearbox (software partner), and Worthing Homes (host project partner) will also be giving their perspective on the project so far. Clearbox BIMXtra is the Common Data Environment for this project. It is a cloud based data hub that consolidates information derived from 3D models and builds upon this information, adding value to each stage as the project evolves.

Below Louise Dawes, BIM Consultant at Clearbox shares her experiences so far:

At Clearbox we have been busy defining our BIM documentation for the Meadow Road Project. In partnership with The Clarkson Alliance and Worthing Homes we have issued the (pre-contract) Employer’s Information Requirements and are in the final stages of consolidating the (post-contract) BIM Execution Plan.

Changes to BIM Documentation

Over the last year we have seen extensive changes in defining our BIM documentation as more and more people are engaging and are having an involvement in projects with a BIM requirement.

Our initial implementation plans were extensive, very comprehensive, time consuming to write and were not easy to embed in contracts at early stages. Having learnt that the most successful method of applying BIM is at the outset of the project, we restructured our documentation so that one initial comprehensive document is now split into two; An initial document containing generic company standards which can easily be inserted into the Employer’s Information Requirements and the second, a detailed BIM Execution Plan that is comprehensive, bespoke for the project and is updated as a project progresses.

As a small project, Meadow Roads BIM documentation follows the same principles and methodology of those that would be suitable for a larger scheme. We simply downscaled our documentation to suit, without losing clarity or definition of the BIM requirement.

Keep it Simple

Apart from the CAD skills required to model in 3D there is nothing technically challenging about the process of adopting BIM. We have learnt that by reducing the complexity and writing BIM documentation with minimal technical jargon we have been able to engage with the wider project team and move BIM forward from Design and into Pre-Construction, Construction, O&M and FM areas.

Data generated by BIM is valuable and should be utilised by all; benefits should not purely be gained in design.

BIMXtra and the Meadow Road Project

Our common data environment BIMXtra has been set up ready to accept models from the consultants and contractors. All parties have been given access to this central location and will be able to view consolidated data once models have been released. The document management library will be used to store and share issued models.

In summary, to get people to participate and adopt BIM you need to ensure they engage and understand what is required to be involved in a BIM project. By defining requirements a clear understanding can be shared amongst project teams. This gives the opportunity for people to adapt to new ways of working.

To view previous blog posts on this research project click here

Contributor: Louise Dawes is a BIM Consultant at Clearbox Limited, a software and consultancy firm focused on delivering leading edge information management from modern BIM enabled projects, across the entire asset lifecycle. To find out more about Clearbox see our website

Contributor: Ashley Beighton is BIM Process Leader for The Clarkson Alliance Limited, a firm of consultant project managers and information managers based in Oxford and London. To find out more about the information management services that TCA provide see our website dedicated to BIM - BIM fusion