Unlocking true construction innovation

In the early days BIM was associated mostly with 3D design. While it’s true that digital visualizations and models are an important part of the BIM process, this perspective misses the wider benefits. BIM’s overriding strategic advantage is in how it brings experts together, often across borders, to foster innovation.

The basis for this collaboration is high quality project information. A BIM data environment allows project stakeholders from every phase to communicate and collaborate over a digital asset from the start. Clashes, with implications right across the project lifecycle, are foreseen and revealed with accuracy before any site work has begun.

BIM provides the means to share quality information in a meaningful way and, at the same time, pools different disciplinary expertise to drive improved project outcomes.  It removes traditional boundaries to creativity, leading to agile non-linear problem solving. Asset data, both current and historical, is available in the cloud for interrogation and use by all project stakeholders, 24/7.

This improved collaboration is not just via virtual means and conference calls either. Many BIM users have introduced shared physical spaces and resources for project teams to congregate. Bringing multidisciplinary experts together to overcome challenges as they arise sparks innovation, reduces delays and improves cohesion and trust. For example, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) opened its BIM centre in 2017. Supply chain stakeholders meet in person at the centre to coordinate project updates and reviews. It uses interactive 3D asset modelling to aid collaborative decision making and has connected experts from across the construction and operational lifecycle. Design changes or amendments which used to take weeks can now be discussed and settled at the BIM centre, contributing to average project time savings of 15%.

Beyond ISO 19650 a broader, standards-led, approach to business strategy and management helps large construction organizations maintain best practice structures and foundations, whilst allowing flex to accommodate innovation and change. For example, ISO 9001, the international standard for quality management, provides an ideal foundation from which to progressively increase BIM maturity. For smaller supply chain members, looking to secure bids and tenders, the adoption of standards and certification can set them apart in a competitive marketplace.

All members in the supply chain can set themselves up to derive maximum benefit from BIM collaboration by prioritizing a standards strategy, to build true resilience. It’s often helpful for organizations increasing their BIM maturity to consider how new processes will impact the rest of their operations – particularly those areas which might seem unrelated to BIM.

For instance, ISO 44001 provides a management system for collaborative business relationships and is suitable for construction businesses of all sizes and types working in the public or private sector. It prepares organizations to manage relationships optimally, whether the focus is on a single application between operating divisions or more complex relationships like consortia and joint ventures. In addition, ISO 55001 is a new suite of standards created to guide asset management best practise. They help construction businesses develop a proactive lifecycle asset management system, while reducing ownership risks from a cost and safety perspective.

Finally, understanding that collaboration is at the heart of everything that is transformative about BIM is crucial to fully realizing its potential from a global growth perspective. ISO 19650 is set to aid international BIM adoption and market maturity, presenting a clear opportunity, particularly for smaller supply chain organizations, to explore new territorial markets and build new collaborative relationships.