Asia: understanding the value of BIM

Callum Agnew.jpg

Callum Agnew

Associate Director


Building information modelling (BIM) has taken off in many countries, especially in the developed world. In Asia though, executives are unclear about what advantages this concept might offer them. As a result, they are understandably hesitant how they might make it work for them and their organisations.

Seeking a positive response to change can be challenging. Perhaps all of us have a tendency to assume that ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.’ The trouble with that approach is that potential improvements are ignored and competitiveness suffers.

When a new way of working is promoted, some businesses will actively embrace it while others will try to ignore it for as long as possible. For this reason, it is imperative that Asian organisations see the benefits of BIM so that they actively want to engage in it. Without that clear reward, the commitment required is unlikely to materialise. 

Major clients in infrastructure, hi-tech and manufacturing are all seeing the benefits of adopting BIM. The cross-management and cross-exchange of information that BIM offers is well worth the time and financial investment it demands. Seeing the Return on Investment (ROI) of anything new can be a bit of a challenge.

The supply chain is the main driver for this. The consultancies, design teams, architects and contractors are trying to facilitate what they can and can’t do and to build forward from there. When any new approach comes down the line, people tend to feel alarmed by it. We want to help them get the advantages and see how it can work for them. We are seeking to close the gap.

All of the stakeholders involved in the project need to fully understand their function. The BIM approach creates a structure that makes that a reality.”

You can buy in all the technology but you have to know how to follow through. This isn’t a tick in the box exercise. Our call to action is to do a thorough BIM strategy right at the start of the project, before you make your first appointments, so that the right investments are made and the analysis of benefits against investment really works; there is real added value.

There is a lot of hesitation because people fear additional upfront costs either in a specific project or right across the whole business. I would like to emphasise the learning curve and the upfront spend can lead to far better coordination which will mean that the return on investment (ROI) is quickly seen.

The bigger the project, the greater the ROI will be. We absolutely want to change the sense of nervousness into one of embracing a highly effective collaborative approach that will be a fundamental part of every major infrastructure project in Asia.”

Here we examine some of the major benefits for Asian organisations who follow the BIM paradigm:

Collaborative working

To reap the benefits of a new paradigm requires architects, engineers and construction industries to work together and share up to date information. Making that happen in Asia would transform outputs by reducing costs, avoiding errors and cutting down delivery timescales.

A common and a defined process

Most of our clients in Asia have had experience of what happens when not everyone knows either the full process or their specific part in it. All of the stakeholders involved in the project need to fully understand their function. The BIM approach creates a structure that makes that a reality.

With clash detection software, errors that would have occurred on site are easily detected in the office prior to construction starting.”

Ability to capture/retain all information relating to a built environment

The traditional project management techniques tend to focus on non-integrated layers. That is, each contractor is operating only within their own trade. The new paradigm creates a structure that ensures all the information captured and retained is always up to date and looks at the entire life-cycle of the project.  

Clash detection

In BIM modelling clash avoidance takes place during the design phase so that constructability issues can be resolved before construction begins; saving vast sums of money, time and producing a better asset. With clash detection software, errors that would have occurred on site are easily detected in the office prior to construction starting. BIM even finds clash detection between objects inside objects (a steel rod fully occupied in a concrete wall for example).

Understanding your asset

In a BIM process, simulation is key.  By setting out required outcomes at the very beginning of the design process the emerging model can be interrogated to make sure the design meets your requirements. Stakeholders can better understand the design allowing you to make fact based decisions based on the model. At the early stages, the model can then be verified avoiding costly design changes and reworked on site. Commercial and environmental aspects can be optimised earlier and the model plays a key role in transition to operation which allows a more efficient transfer from construction to use.

Sequencing of works

Knowing precisely the sequence of works on a project means avoidance of wasted – expensive – time on site and allows for procuring supplies in a timely way. BIM can ensure that you have the right trades on site at the right time. That means cost savings and efficient timely construction.

3D visual representation

3D modelling is a vital component. Stacks of drawings and a light box provide the ingredients for errors and out of date data. The introduction of 3D modelling within BIM means that models from the different sectors are automatically aligned and accessible. As well as utilising models to improve design coordination and test building performance, the models are used throughout the process to visually communicate design intent, construction sequencing and site logistics. Project stakeholders understand enhanced and more concise decisions can be made at earlier stages in the process. BIM models are also utilised to visually communicate design intent to external authorities, operational teams and for marketing purposes. 

Stakeholders can better understand the design allowing you to make fact based decisions based on the model.”

Integrated costs and automated Bill of Quantities for real-time estimates

The old ‘take-offs’ process was fraught with the potential for error. With BIM, the model includes information that can allow a contractor to accurately and rapidly generate an array of essential estimating information. As changes are made, estimating information automatically adjusts, allowing greater contractor productivity. Real time cost estimating can be added to each object providing a valuable tool for designers to conduct value engineering.

We have invested heavily in understanding a modern cost management solution and how it can provide a competitive advantage to our clients. QuanTTum is our purpose built product, designed specifically to give our clients better cost and scope control from initial budget cost plan through tender and final account. This world class solution enables rapid capture of each dimension within the drawings which then enables us to ‘live link’ the workbook directly to the measurement. 

Creating an information resource for asset management

While at first glance, holding accurate information of a building with over 5,000 light fixtures and 22,000 power devices might not seem crucial, however any facilities manager will tell you that the capacity to hold this information and keep it updated is vital. The building or facilities manager can now utilise intelligent 3D design models alongside Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) systems to make sure the building is functioning properly today and where it will be in 20 years’ time.

This is all made possible by the seamless integration of the building information into a single source – the model, right from the beginning of the process. This allows owners and operators to rely on actionable next steps with closeout packages that are accessible on one platform. Managers can anticipate issues rather than react to a problem and operations can be streamlined for years beyond the initial project phase, saving time and money.

Find out more about how BIM could improve your management and outputs of projects and get some valuable professional advice from us.