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Weekend Property

Long-term gain of building information modelling is irrefutable

Centralised information system fosters collaboration throughout life cycle of a project from design to on- and off-site operations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 11:34am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 3:37pm

Ada Y.S. Fung is deputy director of housing (development and construction), Transport and Housing Bureau. She discusses how the building and construction industry can benefit from building information modelling (BIM), a centralised information system.

What is BIM? How can the building and construction industry benefit from it?

BIM is intended to foster collaboration between stakeholders throughout a project’s life cycle, from design to on- and off-site operations. It transforms the way we design, build and operate our buildings. It is much more advanced than simulated 3D computer software. The owner and the team can use BIM processes and tools to identify and resolve problems at an early stage. They streamline the delivery of higher quality and better performing buildings and reduce errors and field changes, leading to a more efficient and reliable delivery that reduces project time, cost and waste.

What synergies can BIM create with big data infrastructure such as geographic information system GIS)?

An infusion of GIS technology into BIM can enhance its power when it comes to infrastructure, building and civil engineering projects, and property management. The main concern is integration, ideally in a real-time setting. While the construction and geo-information professions have worked together for years, it is only recently that there have been efforts to integrate both. The industry has to think about ways to integrate both platforms to derive big data for decision-making. Further down the line, consolidated building data collected and aggregated from BIM systems, along with other modular data such as topography, transportation infrastructure, utility infrastructure, hydrology, climate, land zoning and use can contribute to the construction of a citywide spatial data infrastructure, integral to build a smart city. Separately, the successful integration of GIS data into BIM will also enable it to be developed for use as a tool to facilitate green-building assessments [such as BEAM Plus assessment] for sustainable design and construction.

What initiatives are the government taking to promote the use of BIM across the industry?

The government has mandated its use for major public-sector infrastructure and public housing projects. Consultants and contractors working on these are required to use BIM technology from 2018. The Construction Industry Council (CIC) plays a key role in working towards this goal. We use push and pull strategies to advocate project clients and asset owners to adopt BIM, and work with industry bodies and public and private sector organisations to help industry members implement BIM technology. CIC organises promotions and publicity events to educate industry stakeholders about the benefits of BIM, and those who are new to adopting it. Promotions are extended to regional and international practices. Another initiative is the formulation of standards by publishing the CIC Building Information Modelling Standards as a guideline for those starting to implement BIM. The standards cover project execution plan, modelling methodology, level of detail, and component presentation style and data organisation.Training is very important as we seek to develop BIM capacity by driving curricular change in construction-related and computer-science academic programmes. We provide training in BIM model development, BIM management and the use of BIM models. Apart from project owners, developers and consultants, we expect contractors, sub-contractors and site workers to be able to use BIM, retrieve data and comprehend it in their works after attending our training courses, including subsidised programmes for new entrants and site workers.

What are the challenges and difficulties reported by companies that have incorporated BIM?

As BIM is considered complex and delicate, the most difficult challenge reported is the lack of competence. That’s why we offertraining to familiarise them with installation, implementation and ongoing operations. We are stepping up collaboration with industry bodies to train BIM professionals and enable them to integrate work processes with BIM. Software and training costs are among other obstacles reported. The company implementing BIM has to change the work process entirely. Despite the short-term pain, the long-term gain is irrefutable.