Anthony Bateman, Pre-Construction Director, GRAHAM
BIM foundation – In construction, BIM is an important process that enhances the creation and management of built assets throughout the whole life cycle. Since 2016, when BIM was mandated for all centralised government projects, we have seen standards develop and mature. And in order to operate within a common, international data environment, there has been a transition from the UK PAS1192 specification to the international ISO19650 standard – a sign of construction’s increasing global transformation into a digital industry.
In the last year, the national Annex changes demonstrate that the standards will continue to develop. For GRAHAM, having the BIM foundation has provided significant opportunities for us and, consequently, our clients and partners. Through its effective implementation, we can enhance projects during design through to construction and onto handover.
Industry maturity – Our experience has underlined the importance of collaborative engagement with all stakeholders in successfully realising BIM projects. Notably, as the standards have matured, so too has the understanding of our clients. Previously, clients would require BIM, primarily because it was mandated, without understanding how they could benefit. Often there was also an absence of defined requirements. Year on year, client understanding is improving, and they, generally, have a much better understanding of BIM. This is also true of our supply chain, where we have a clear understanding of what we need from them to successfully deliver a BIM project.
Technology allows us to exploit- Within GRAHAM, our commitment has been to not just follow the standard in name only, i.e. use it as a box-ticking exercise, but to exploit it to benefit all stakeholders. The benefits in the design process, such as real-time collaboration which leads to better decision making, in addition to federated models at an early stage, are clearly proven. Having made this investment exploitation, it is crucial to circulate this multidisciplinary information to the relevant subject matter experts at every stage of the design and construction processes.
Technology plays a huge role, particularly when it comes to sites, as the correct software and infrastructure are needed to turn complex models into simple information that is easily digested and navigated. Huge strides have already been made in these areas. Our sites are becoming increasingly confident in their ability to navigate the models, thereby enhancing the efficiency of collaborative decision-making while informing logistics and scheduling, for example. 3D models enhance understanding and make it easier to identify problems. Exploitation also adds to consistency across every project, not just a few. It is much more beneficial to our clients and GRAHAM if we can achieve small improvements across all of our sites rather than large improvements on a few. On an annual basis, we have identified and realised these improvements across projects in a range of sectors, including healthcare. These range from enhanced quality, the promotion of safety and a reduction in rework, to the streamlining of daily reporting and standardisation of processes. Inevitably, small improvements lead to big improvements, and we are very confident that all of our construction projects are in a good position to exploit the considerable opportunities that BIM undoubtedly, presents.
“Technology plays a huge role, particularly when it comes to sites, as the correct software and infrastructure are needed to turn complex models into simple information that is easily digested and navigated”
Make the right investments – The development of innovative solutions in the construction industry continues at pace. In order to remain up to date with these developments, we closely follow the industry trends.
Looking Forward BIM evolution- Looking forward, BIM standards will continue to evolve. For example, over the last year, clients have placed a greater emphasis on information management as the new ISO19650 standard begins to embed itself within the industry. We have already invested in our model auditing capabilities and we will continue to invest in the future. Areas such as Business Intelligence, a specific area where we have a dedicated GRAHAM team, allow us to provide instant reporting regarding project health checks in visible and easyto-understand dashboards. It is no longer a revolution but an evolution.
For us, it is important not to be satisfied with what has been achieved to date but to continue to push the boundaries in our digital journey. 3D has become the default across our projects, and we are seeing further exciting opportunities with 4D. At GRAHAM, we are ready to exploit this. However, we will only do so when the time is right and when our clients are ready.
Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality already has their place in our projects, and we believe the technology will continue to evolve to provide further opportunities. This will strengthen our ability to offer benefits for clients beyond the brief.
However, our focus remains on implementing technology to solve practical business problems rather than following trends alone. We think big, start small and act fast when it comes to investment in technology. This approach has been very successful. We are very fortunate to have a proactive and supportive board that realises the potential of digital technology in our industry. The board advocates complete transparency regarding the benefits and the challenges associated with these investments.
Furthermore, an increased understanding of digital technology allows our project teams to play a far greater role in shaping the future. In the past, this was not always the case. For example, our field capture solution has released a major upgrade, and our teams are confidently using this to challenge our processes.
Sites are heavily involved in informing this review. Their forensic understanding and subsequent ideas as to what works on site and how to improve things are making an enormous impact. The speed of change has been significant. Indeed, only a few years ago, site teams were still familiarising themselves with the transition from paper to digital administration. At first, it was difficult to get feedback to shape part of our digital strategy. Now, this is no longer the case, and we are, collectively, as a business, taking advantage of this enhanced level of digital literacy and sophistication.
Systems are also becoming more integrated, and this is something GRAHAM also wants to take advantage of. Our aim is to integrate separate systems, resulting in far better project insights. An example of this is with our supply chain, where we are now easily able to combine financial, quality and delivery performance to monitor our suppliers.
Don’t neglect the basics – A further area that remains critical to our operations is cyber security. Naturally, the elimination of paper and a wave of digitisation across the industry, from federated models through to drones, has boosted efficiency and transparency. However, with this progress comes an obvious security risk. Therefore, appropriate investment in cyber security is needed in parallel with other digital investment.
Overall, we are really excited about the future and the digitisation that is happening within the construction industry. Working in partnership with clients and subcontractors, we have already made huge strides on this continuous journey. There is a culture of openness and a desire from all parties to embrace further enhancements. This level of transparency provides us with a sense of optimism. The collaborative application of technology can release enormous benefits and accelerate meaningful change for the industry as a whole, as well as our clients and partners.