The collation of accurate data is probably the single biggest challenge we face within the BIM environment. While the pace and proliferation of new technology entering the sector has been impressive, we’ve yet to find software that delivers the all-encompassing solution we require. We’re an innovative team at ISG, so when we couldn’t find what we wanted on the market, we took the initiative and developed our very own bespoke in-house solutions. These ‘middle-ware’ interfaces allow us to patch data from one commercial software system to another transparently. This gives us great flexibility in our response and delivery on site.
One of our self-developed construction apps facilitates the efficient collection and reporting of site data via a tablet, such as commissioning figures and snagging elements. This rich data is then instantly available to the entire project team. Accuracy is paramount in the process to validate exactly what we’ve collected on site. Again, nothing currently on the market met our expectations, so we developed middle-ware that collates and checks the data, and applies it to the relevant package. We can also patch relevant O&M data direct to many facilities management (FM) systems.
Collaborate to innovate
Collaboration and cross fertilisation of innovation and ideas is central to how we operate as an organisation – this keeps us agile and at the forefront of technological advances that can benefit our clients and keep us working smarter and more efficiently. We were highly influential in bringing the BIM methodology to our long-standing client Asda, and now sit on the retailer’s global BIM steering group. The knowledge, expertise and learning from our high-level engagement with Asda, alongside all our forward thinking clients, is consistently shared across the business so we continually build, refine and innovate to challenge what’s possible.
It’s never too late to get on board
Tier 1 contractors have been instrumental in both the implementation and wider dissemination of BIM methodology and its considerable advantages across the whole built environment sector. With a degree of market maturity, we are now beginning to witness a growing appetite from the supply chain to take real ownership of their understanding of this technology – undoubtedly driven by the government’s BIM Mandate, requirements from main contractors and recognition that this technology and overarching methodology is here to stay.
For us early adopters, it's been a fascinating journey, as interest levels have grown to recent unprecedented levels –with routinely full and oversubscribed BIM4FitOut meetings. More than ever before, there is a real thirst for knowledge across the spectrum and this level of engagement is consistently rising. The Finishes & Interior Sector (FIS) is currently developing its own 'freeware', aimed at providing a shared platform for bidding BIM projects (BID4FREE). This software is being developed by 3D Repo and its efforts have received universal praise as the fit out industry acknowledges the crucial role that BIM has now, and in the future.
An effective supply chain is one of the core elements leading to successful project outcomes. We are clear that it is absolutely essential that our supply chain partners are fully conversant and knowledgeable on BIM processes and methodologies, as without this commitment, we cannot expect to extract the true value and capabilities of BIM for our clients. This can’t be a top down approach though – it really has to be driven by the supply chain itself, with the correct support and training from the main contractor. Early BIM supply chain adopters are already reaping the rewards of their commitment – as the value and enhanced efficiencies these organisations bring to the table make them stand-out project partners.
Mark Norton is head of BIM for ISG’s Fit Out and Engineering Services business and chair of BIM4FitOut, which was formed by the Finishes & Interiors Sector (FIS) to address the impact of BIM on the fit out and finishes sector.
This article first appeared in Digital Construction News, 28 April 2016