CONSTRUCTION & BIM A VISION FOR THE FUTURE Barry Tuckwood, Chartered Engineer and Management Consultant,

discusses several options for expanding the current capabilities of BIM for application in new and existing facilities.

I had a lightbulb moment many years ago, the realisation that there was a better way of harnessing IT to improve what we do in construction.

My paper for the international conference CivilComp 89 was met with barriers then that still exist today: trust, sharing, and real collaboration, at the heart of which was a need to change the industry’s culture.

By now we are all aware of BIM; digital engineering and virtual models of infrastructure, even if they have not yet taken root in all of our offices and those of our clients. We should ask ourselves why. What can we do to encourage uptake?

transport, and petrochem are examples of where policy, strategy and implementation can follow the whole lifecycle.

“Virtual and augmented

reality provide better

understanding of what we are building, how to build it, how to use a building, and how to deal with it at the end of the lifecycle.”

The real advantages are for clients and owners, often uncertain of the benefits and unwilling to invest to achieve them. Many organisations are embracing the concepts of shared data, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness for all aspects of asset management in the built environment. Shared data enables design for manufacture and assembly, easier use of modular construction and prefabrication, reductions in clashes, less rework, and greater safety.

We now need to continue to promote BIM and digital models, and consider the next steps. What might technology enable? What will we need to do to maximise the benefits?

For example, we now have the facility for real-time monitoring of assets; for heat, light, and movement. Monitoring enables action to reduce cost of energy for example, to improve safety, to reduce environmental impact. More monitoring means more data and more sharing, and these lead to a virtuous circle of improvement.

Virtual and augmented reality provide better understanding of what we are building, how to build it, how to use a building, and how to deal with it at the end of the lifecycle. There are visible virtual 3D models offering the potential for testing different conditions, and imagining how we could use spaces more effectively, whether that is a shopping mall, an airport, or a domestic kitchen.

However, due to the multiplicity of stakeholders, the industry can be slow to make changes. For optimum results we need to consider the whole lifecycle from concept to completion, and through the multiple changes in all of the built environment to refurbish, repair, and replace. Few organisations have that facility: the utilities,


But there are many others that could and should be forerunners in the advanced use of technology to enable long term benefits. Commercial and domestic developments can all make long term savings for collective flats as well as individual houses, schools, hospitals, ports, road and rail. We need to look towards the needs of all users of our built environment.

If you could model a new or existing part of the infrastructure, digitally, do virtual walk-throughs, cater for future changes, enhance services, test security, and work out energy use, what would matter most? What would you and your

clients really need?

Whether they are rail passengers, port customers, hospital patients, school pupils, or householders, what do they need in order to save money, time and the environment. We need to consider how we can help them, through monitoring, collaboration and data management for the long term.

As an industry we already have the capability to look at the future demands of our many stakeholders whatever they need to do: shopping, driving, as patients, visitors, maintainers, security staff and emergency services. If you were to ask your clients and their stakeholders what they need, what would they say?

What would be their lightbulb moment? Whatever our role is, we need to use our expertise more to help our clients. Society depends on it.

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