Building Design and Operation

Building Information Modelling deadline fast approaching

This year all centrally-procured Government construction projects will have to start using fully collaborative 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM). With only months to go until this deadline, the pressure is on healthcare suppliers to make their product ranges compliant. In this article, Philip Ross, director of Safehinge, explains what this means for the marketplace, and ‘why you should not be afraid to embrace BIM’.

The latest buzzword among architects and construction teams, and in turn the suppliers whose products they use, is BIM – or Building Information Modelling.

BIM, in essence, describes the process of designing a building collaboratively using a series of computer-generated models, rather than the traditional approach involving a series of separate drawings. It offers considerable cost and time savings, and much greater accuracy, avoiding errors, as multiple teams input into a design over the course of its creation. For example, discovering half way through construction that the range of doors chosen does not match the spaces described on the blueprints would mean major delays, and could lead to increased costs. Uncovering this anomaly during the design process, and before work starts on site, instead gives the team time to rectify the problem and ensure that construction is not held up.

It also ensures that all data, in terms of the design and operation of a building, is held on a computer, rather than in written specifications and schedules in a ring-binder folder kept under someone’s desk; a person who will most likely at some time move on, taking their knowledge – and sometimes the folder – with them.

DEADLINE SET FOR THIS YEAR These obvious gains are the reason why the Government revealed in its Construction Strategy 2011 that it would accelerate the adoption of BIM throughout the UK construction supply chain. This has led to the deadline being set for this year – a demand that will cover all project and asset information, documentation, and data.

Once generated, BIM models will provide a digital representation of a building in its entirety, made up of objects that are related – starting with the building itself, and then the spaces that make up that building, and the systems and products that make up those spaces. It will also detail the relationship between all these individual objects.

20 THE NETWORK J a n u a r y 2016

A BIM model for a Safehinge Symphony bedroom door specifically designed for the mental health sector. The design is single-swing during normal operation, with emergency- release double swing functionality.

A BUILDING ‘ON A COMPUTER SCREEN’ Every member of the project team – from the architect to each supplier – will work together to populate the digital model, effectively creating a building on a computer screen first; then, when everyone is sure it will work in practice, building it physically, knowing that it will slot together properly, and ensuring that it is fit for purpose at the time of handover. Increasing understanding of a project in this way is essentially about risk management. By understanding the project, and every element of it, you take away the risk. All those involved understand what everyone else needs, increasing profitability, and improving the service to the client.

It is expected that BIM will have an even

greater impact than Computer-Aided Design (CAD) did when it was first introduced in the 1980s, sparking a shift away from drawing boards and typewriters to producing designs on computers. If you made a mistake with CAD, you could easily undo it, and, if you had to draw the same door numerous times, each copy was exactly the same as the first. Equally importantly, the digital document was fully searchable, so you could find any information in milliseconds.

PICKING UP WHERE CAD LEFT OFF Fast-forward more than three decades, and BIM picks up where CAD left off. So, the advantages for the client, the architects, and the construction partners, are clear for all to see. But what about suppliers? Is BIM going to bring benefits? Or is it going to be an expensive millstone around the necks of suppliers already being forced to cut their margins in an increasingly competitive and cash-strapped marketplace?

According to the Construction Products Association: ‘To be prepared for BIM, manufacturers and distributors will need to invest time and resources’. In its 2013 document, BIM For The Terrified: A Guide for Manufacturers, the Association

A BIM model for a Symphony corridor door designed for mental healthcare use. The design is double-swing for corridor applications.

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