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New technical standards published as survey shows threefold increase in BIM usage since 2010

Three times as many companies are now aware of and using building information modelling (BIM) technology to assist in the delivery of construction projects as was the case in 2010, according to new figures.05 Mar 2013

39% of respondents to a survey by industry body National Building Specification (NBS) said that they were "aware of and currently using" the technology; up from 13% in 2010. According to the findings, which form part of the NBS' annual BIM Report, a further 54% of respondents are aware of but not yet using BIM. Of those who were aware of the technology, 93% said that they would be using it within five years, according to the survey.

Infrastructure law expert Chris Hallam of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com and a member of the BIM Task Group, said that the figures were "significant", but pointed out that the UK remained "significantly behind" other economies in its adoption of the technology. He added that a suite of documents published in the last few days by the Task Group and Construction Industry Council (CIC) would help "drive use" of BIM.

A BIM system uses a computer generated model to collect and manage information about the design, construction and operation of a project centrally. It is especially useful where many parties, such as different sub-contractors, provide input on the same project. Any changes to the design of a project made during its construction are automatically applied to the model.

The CIC published its BIM Protocol, designed to be incorporated into existing construction contracts, last week. Since its publication, the Government-backed BIM Task Group has produced a publicly available specification (PAS) setting out technical standards for information management during the capital/delivery phases of construction projects using BIM.

"The threefold increase in BIM use since 2010 is a significant and impressive increase, but let's put it into context: this was from a fairly low starting point and it would seem that more than three fifths of the industry are yet to be convinced by BIM, and the UK remains significantly behind other economies with regards to BIM adoption," Hallam said.

"However, the new PAS 1192-2 standards, along with the other documentation produced by the CIC last week, will help to drive BIM use and close the gap on the US, South Korea and China," he said.

Hallam pointed out that recent statistics, produced by US construction firm McGraw-Hill, suggested a 71% uptake in the technology in North America compared to 39% in the UK.

The new PAS 1192-2 standard (registration required) was produced by national standards body the British Standards Institution (BSI), and builds on the existing code of practice for the collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information. It encourages the production of information "with the end in mind", ensuring that information is of a sufficient standard to be used and reused throughout the project and life of the asset. According to the document, use of the new standards will support the Government's objective to require collaborative 3D BIM on all its projects by 2016.

Khalid Ramzan of Pinsent Masons, a BIM expert and founding member of the CIC's 'BIM2050' group, said that the new standards were a "vital component" of the Government's plans to make BIM "the norm for the industry".

"Information, its quality, seamless transfer through the project lifecycle and the ability for parties to exploit that information is at the heart of BIM," he said. "This PAS demonstrates that BIM is not just about the models but the processes for information transfer that exist in the modelling process, as well as around it."

"For BIM to be a success, collaborative working requires that all stakeholders must adopt standardised processes and agreed standards and methods of working. The aim is to ensure that this level of consistency will, as the PAS makes clear, enable 'information to be used and reused without change or interpretation'."

Further standards will be produced relating to the use and maintenance of the parties' asset information model, according to the PAS.

For more information about BIM, please contact BIMS@pinsentmasons.com.

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