BIM Level 2; Developing Coordination & Collaboration or Causing Complexity


One of the prime expectations of UK BIM mandate was, through improved communication and collaboration; it will bring greater clarity to projects. It would also enable better decisions and reduce risks, resulting in greater certainty of successful delivery. It will standardize procedures and the way information is provided and shared. But, holding it back is the very fact that every design practice and contractor has a diverse setup.

Expectations from BIM mandate was that it would drive increased collaboration and initiate a different set of behavior within building construction projects. Along with this anticipated change, a suite of standard documents - PAS was also designed to unify the approach across the industry. PAS 1192-2:2013 is a set of specifications for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling. This was to ensure that almost everyone nearly speaks the same language when it comes to BIM. 

So what needs to be assessed is, has PAS suite and some of those beliefs, helped the building construction industry to collaborate more effectively and efficiently or is complicating the situation furthermore?

As a matter of fact, architects, contractors, surveyors and several other stakeholders are still struggling to interpret the documents and the protocols. Some of them are experiencing BIM level 2 anxieties. They also fear, if they are appropriately positioned to implement BIM level 2.

LOD is sometimes interpreted as Level of Detail instead of Level of Development. This Specification uses the concept of Levels of Development. Level of Detail is essentially how much detail is included in the model element, whereas Level of Development is the degree to which the element’s geometry and attached information has been thought through. It is the degree to which project team members may rely on the information when using the model. In essence, Level of Detail can be thought of as input to the element, while Level of Development is reliable output.

Level 2 BIM has been presented more technically challenging than what it actually is, says Bhushan Avsatthi, Associate director - Hi Tech Outsourcing Services.

The challenge is that none of our clients have the time to sit and read all the government standards and documents to ensure they tick every single box as it is massively complicated. We, as BIM consultants, are sent across papers on BIM or are invited for seminars and conferences, to navigate professionals from the industry. We are confident of achieving all the principles of Level 2, and it is our constant endeavor to stay complaint to the minutest detail written in government documents.

We aim to engage at the client’s executive board level and work towards a holistic approach to define business case and strategy to embrace the value that BIM can provide and maximize benefits, yours occupants, and ours.

Though we believe and follow the standard driven approach, we strongly feel that these standards could be better coordinated. Several PAS and BS 1192 documents are greatly articulated, but they are missing on the fines in terms of a progression path that can link together all the RIBA stages. Is it advisable, leaving it out for the project teams to work it out on their own, is something which I am not very sure of.

What industry needs right now is a guide or a navigation tool that can link all the five key documents from BS 1192 to PAS 1192:5, each of which are referring to other BS standards, or are referring to different set of information that you will have to look out for, on you own.


              i.        BIM is just a tick box activity and lesser or no changes underneath
             ii.        BIM will add to complexities, instead of showing any real improvements
            iii.        BIM project benefits are likely to materialize only for experienced patrons
           iv.        BIM’s effectiveness in the design stage proved successfully
            v.        BIM is completely leveraged by almost every contractor in the construction stage
           vi.        Efficiencies from BIM in the operational phase are clearly visible
          vii.        BIM will prove to be a facilitator for enhanced and effective collaboration
         viii.        BIM will help achieve better margins and/or productivity

I am afraid that the standards have not had the desired effect of unifying suppliers approach to BIM. The reason is that everyone’s level of understanding is different, and until that is resolved, BIM level 2 is not going to happen as expected.

While discussing this with one of a colleague architect from the industry, he said they get affected at the time of handover. They as an architectural firm, receive different models from different BIM modelers, architectural design support service providers and contractors. All these models come in with different levels of graphical detail and level of component information. The models that we receive are not standardized, however; we are compelled to utilize the information it holds to carry out post-handover editing to attain standardization, he added.

Would it be wrong to say that BIM has achieved the success in spite of the standards, not because of them? There still are firms who work with their teams, not to follow the PAS 1192 documents, but to decide practically as to what they are going to do, what worked in their favor and what did not. None of the PAS documents can make people understand practically what they are supposed to do, in order to execute a BIM project, or does it?

Some building construction industry experts have all together a different counter-BIM argument to this episode. They are of the opinion that the benefits of BIM seem quite minimal if you look at them with a mindset, that most of the key design processes would be already in place. 

Why should we be dependent on BIM for our already set processes including need for consultants to collaborate? Our contracts are all equipped to create that environment to provide 3D models and run clash detection. 

Our CAFM systems are already populated with asset data. And not to forget that we have mastered these, with decades of experience. BIM walks in just to bring in all these disciplines and process under one umbrella. Client’s point of view says no benefit from BIM, however; BIM consultants are experiencing benefits out of it - big time.

Conclusion

Improved collaboration is what BIM is for. Why do we need software to help us do that? How beneficial and advisable it would be to bring teams together, who aren’t working together towards solutions?