The Great British BIM Off

With The Great British Bake Off back on TV, Dan Rossiter compares construction with baking.

While watching the best of our British bakers produce a plethora of pastries on The Great British Bake-off, I suddenly came to a realization. Construction is a lot like baking.

If you, like me, try to attend many of the excellent UK BIM Alliance and BIM Region events to keep up to date with Building Information Modelling (BIM), you have probably heard from some great industry leaders. However, you may have also heard something like this:

“Construction needs to move towards how things are done in the automotive industry; they have been doing BIM and digital twins for years!”

This kind of statement confounds me, how can you compare the two? While both industries are mostly made up of small to medium enterprises (around 99% of both industries), the similarities end there.

In the automotive industry, billions are spent on research and development with prototypes being constructed, tested, and deconstructed countless times before a product is finalized. While in construction, research and development work is included within the design fee; a fraction of the final asset cost. Except for a few exceptions like Atkins’ Sunesis, we research, design, and build an asset once.

While I reject the automotive analogy, there is an industry I consider much more comparable to construction; baking! In fact, the bake-off technical challenge can be seen as a good example of the issues associated with poor construction briefs.

During the technical challenge, bakers interpret a brief to produce a solution. However, often these briefs aren’t SMART (specific, measurable, achievable realistic and time-bound); lacking sufficient information causing incorrect, ambiguous or incomplete solutions. If, when forming a brief, SMART requirements had been added, the bakers might have been able to produce more consistent results. While this would likely negatively affect the format of the show it would lead to less abortive work, better use of materials, reduce frustrations and an increase in the judge’s satisfaction. In essence the spirit of BIM.

Through BIM Level 2, ISO 19650-2 specifies that an employer produces a clear set of SMART information requirements aligned to their organizational goals and the needs of their asset management team. Each of these information requirements should also have:

  • Level of Information need (What information is needed to fulfil a purpose);
  • Acceptance Criteria (What information is needed to be acceptable);
  • Shared Resources (What supporting information is available); and
  • Key dates (When the information is needed by)

If produced clearly, these requirements allow a supplier to produce their information more efficiently with reduced errors, rework, and more consistent tender returns as shown during the Avanti Programme. Meaning that the right information is given to the right people, at the right time, in the right format.

So the next time you don that apron, ask yourself “Do you bake using BIM?”


Dan Rossiter, Sector Lead at BSI

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