CitA BIM Gathering 2015 – ‘An Integrated Future’


The CitA BIM Gathering was held at The Gibson Hotel, Dublin on 12th and 13th November. This was the biggest BIM event in Ireland this year with an attendance of approximately 300 people. The attendees comprised of experts and people new to BIM, along with people who had already begun their BIM journey.

The title of this Gathering, ‘An Integrated Future’ suited the themes of the event.

Organising the Gathering

From interviews with Suzanne Purcell and Dr Alan Hore we know that the Gathering took significant work to organise, and it showed. The organisation and planning of an event like this was not easy.  Credit was given to CitA’s Suzanne Purcell and Bairbre Fox–Mills. The location was ideal, the modern design, facilities and interior appropriate for the Gathering’s topics of discussion. The event got great coverage on social media during and after the event, with attendees and speakers referring to the high standard of the event and the great atmosphere.

The Gathering 2015 was unique, bringing together industry, researchers and educators. The keynote speakers were international experts. The Scientific Committee was described as ‘world-class’ by Dr Alan Hore in his closing address. The sponsors were all well-known highly reputable organisations.

Two Days of Proceedings

The two day programme comprised of plenary and breakout sessions and questions and answers periods. The breakout sessions gave attendees five choices of different BIM topics. Day One got off to a good start with Dr Alan Hore welcoming attendees.

The first plenary session comprised of three keynote addresses. The first address was by Kimon Onuma, President of Onuma Inc. His address was titled ‘Intensify architecture through the use of technology’. He was praised by Dr Alan Hore for his confidence in being the first speaker. The second speaker was David Philp, a man famous in the BIM community.

David’s presentation was titled ‘To mandate or not to mandate – That is the question?’ David is Head of BIM at the UK BIM Task Group and Director of BIM with AECOM. He discussed BIM in the UK and Europe. Clearly and expertly describing BIM is at various degrees of advancement throughout Europe and farther afield. Dr Claire Penny was the final speaker in the opening session. Claire has a World-Wide Leadership Role, as the BIM Solution Leader in IBM’s Internet of Things business unit. Her presentation was titled ‘Is there a place for BIM within the Operate Phase of a building?’ She described people in the room as ‘producers’ of a product, handing it over to others to operate it. This was a very interesting topic from the client viewpoint. FM and the end of use of buildings were discussed, with emphasis on the lifecycle and not just AEC. Claire spoke of cutting-edge technology and what technology in the near future may be capable of. The lifecycle of buildings was to be a reoccurring topic over the two days.

The breakout sessions made people turn to their event programme and there was plenty of choice from topics under the following themes: Culture Change Management, BIM Workshop, Driving Demand for BIM, Scan to BIM, Education and Training Initiatives.  Each theme had three topics presented. The presenters comprised of industry professionals, researchers and academics.

After lunch there was a plenary session with two keynote addresses. Léon Van Berlo’s presentation was titled ‘Collaborative engineering with IFC’. Léon works for the Netherlands Organisation for Applied

Scientific Research TNO as the leader of the BIM research and development team. His talk was very interesting and entertaining. With a background in carpentry and architectural engineering, Léon gave a practical view on BIM. He warned – ‘This is not about making a nice BIM model, this is about collaboration’.

He gave a warning about the problems of collaboration. He discussed intellectual property rights, with regards to the architect’s designs and the owner’s ownership of the building. This is a topic we will hear much more about in future, although Léon did say ‘BIM is happening – it is not in the future’.

The next keynote was titled ‘BIM in Education – What skills do future professionals need?’ by Professor Arto Kiviniemi of the University of Liverpool. Arto, an expert in BIM education, said that we cannot continue like it is ‘business as usual’, and asked if we were now educating for the past or the future. Giving examples from his vast experience as an architect and educator, he stated ‘New graduates will finish in a very different environment than there is now.’ He said that we have to teach collaboration, and that ‘we have no idea what BIM will be like in the future’. Considering the constant improvement in technology, this was a valid point. What BIM is used for now is just the beginning.

Five breakout sessions followed, with topics within the following themes: Culture Change Management, Lean Transformation, Scan to BIM, Case Studies, BIM in Ireland. With these concluding, Day One was brought to a close.

That evening, there was a drinks reception followed by dinner at the Old Jameson Distillery.  After dinner, traditional Irish dancing and music was the entertainment on show. While all were seated, Dr Alan Hore gave a captivating speech and David Philp told the audience about how he got interested in BIM, his career and background. Attendees had an enjoyable night.

Day Two opened with Dr Bill East of Prairie Sky Consulting giving a keynote address titled, ‘Why COBie, why not?’ Bill was interviewed by recently. Bill identified illogical traditional facilities management practices: ‘people measure, and re-measure – it’s crazy’.

Bill said BIM also meant ‘Better Information Management’. Dr Frédéric Bosché gave his keynote Address, titled ‘The value of 3D laser scanning in the age of BIM’. This was very interesting for surveyors and heritage professionals. ‘The German road map to BIM’ was the keynote given by Dr Ilka May of Arup. Ilka could not come to Dublin because of an airline strike and joined by Skype. Even though unplanned, it was impressive. Ilka told attendees of the big change that is coming with BIM.

The breakout sessions followed, with the following themes: Scan to BIM, Education Initiatives, BIM in Ireland, Case Studies, and BIM Standards.

After lunch there were more breakout sessions: BIM in Ireland, Culture Change Management, Education and Training Initiatives, BIM and FM, Case Studies. The ‘BIM in Ireland’ session was very interesting. Ted McKenna, Lecturer at CIT, gave a presentation on ‘Potential for BIM integration into the management of Ireland’s existing primary roads infrastructure’ and said ‘we have to learn from our mistakes’.

This explored technical issues of asset management. Dr Louis Gunnigan talked about the Grangegorman Campus project and how BIM is being used. Louis, recently interviewed by, stated that his knowledge of BIM has grown, and explained how BIM can be used in the operation of the campus. He also stressed that there is a fear of change, and that the current contracts are adversarial.

The campus will be a great case study for BIM in FM. Paddy Ryan, BAM Ireland and Anthony Condon, Ethos Engineering gave an interesting and entertaining talk titled ‘BS1192 demystified’.

The final plenary session encompassed three talks. ‘Transition to digitisation’ was delivered by John Hunt of Enterprise Ireland who talked about innovative Irish companies and the work done by Enterprise Ireland, and Irish companies adopting BIM in the UK. Sean O’Dwyer and Alister Kell, of BDP talked about ‘Use of BIM on new children’s hospital’, which has ‘landscaping greater than Croke Park’. David O’Brien, Chair of Government Construction Contracts Committee, talked about ‘Application of BIM on Public Works contracts’. Contracts are a popular topic in BIM discussions.

The Best Paper Awards were presented to the winners. Dr Alan Hore brought the Gathering to a close.

What Was Learned

Collaboration was a big topic. BIM requires professions collaborating. This draws on other areas such as education and contracts. However, there will need to be changes in the traditional project team arrangements in the future. Procurement and adversarial contracts must change for to have a collaborative BIM project environment.

The advantages of BIM in design and construction are well known, but FM was a focus of many of the keynotes and breakout sessions. It is in FM that clients will benefit most from BIM. BIM should be considered for the whole lifecycle of a building.

Education was discussed by many speakers. We cannot educate for what we have done, we must look to the future and what will be required. This was put excellently by Arto Kiviniemi – today’s graduates will finish their careers in a very different work-environment. BIM will evolve, and considering technology advances, will improve in the next decade.

BIM is a major change, but it is not the only technological change. This was evident from the keynote speakers. Off-site manufacturing technology and the Internet of Things are also becoming more popular. Construction is going through a transition to digital.

The traditional image of construction is dated. The industry is now high-tech compared with only ten years ago. The Gathering provided a showcase of the vision, leadership, education and technological expertise of Ireland’s construction industry.

The Gathering provided attendees with lots of information to contemplate. They need not have worried if they did not take enough notes, CitA will provide attendees with video recordings and presentations. Individual moments are also covered by Irish building magazine and

Discussing the Gathering’s standout moments, Dr Alan Hore said ‘It is hard to pick out a single moment, there were so many. It struck me early on the first day that the venue was filling up very quickly and there was a genuine thirst from delegates to learn more about the potential for BIM. At the opening reception for the conference, it was humbling to meet people from Canada, USA and from across Europe.

The keynotes speakers were all fantastic, as were the breakout presentations I attended. Above all, I was proud to be Irish and of how innovative Irish AEC businesses were.’

Alan said attendees were most pleased with the conversation and the networking, and were very impressed with the keynote messages and quality of the breakout sessions.

BIM in Ireland in 2015

Approaching the Gathering there was high anticipation and expectation, built on the Irish showing at Digital Construction Week in London in October, and the publication of BIM videos by the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC). The CIC video, available on YouTube, titled ‘Transition to Digitisation in Irish Construction’ has BIM as the main focus. According to the video, what are needed for the transition to digitalisation are vision, leadership and education.

Irish Building magazine contacted CIC members’ representatives. Robin Mandal of the RIAI said BIM awareness was very high, and the RIAI has early adapters and those who wish to adapt, but cost is an issue. To help members with adopting BIM, the RIAI has a practice committee which includes BIM issues.

According to Robin the RIAI offers members CPD, general education and encouragement. He thinks financial packages and CPD are needed to further ease the integration of BIM into the construction industry.

Claire Crowley of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) said the level of awareness among members is probably 90-95%, but awareness and its practical application i.e. how it actually works for quantity surveyors is probably 30-40%. Claire said ‘Due to limited BIM use and adoption in Ireland direct working experience remains limited at this point.’  SCSI members welcome BIM adoption, but the benefits and added efficiencies are yet to be realised. The SCSI provides BIM education, including CPD and seminars, and guidance to help members adopt BIM. The SCSI is a partner in CitA events. Claire thinks to further ease the integration of BIM into the industry, ‘integration of BIM will only occur when the Client/Government sector introduces a mandate.’

Kevin Rudden of the  Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI), when asked about the level of BIM awareness in the ACEI, said ‘Consulting Engineers in Ireland are not just aware of BIM but are the most advanced practitioners of BIM in the Country’, and ACEI members are strong supporters of BIM adoption. Kevin said they understand the benefits but also recognise its current limitations, stating ‘BIM may not be suitable for all projects and it is essential we use the most appropriate tools for the given job.’

Kevin says demand has required BIM adoption, saying ‘Nothing focuses the mind more than real projects with real demands.’ The ACEI has a BIM committee who participates in CitA activities and liaises between the association and CitA.  ACEI has a role working in partnership with CitA and the CIC to remove any barriers to BIM adoption.

When asked what needs to be done to further ease the integration of BIM into the industry, Kevin said the industry is struggling to reconcile the collaborative approach needed for successful delivery of BIM projects and the traditional adversarial legal frameworks and contracts. He described that the legal approach needs to change to how projects are presently undertaken and not how it was done in the past.

Paul Sheridan of Engineers Ireland said the majority of professionals are aware of BIM and what it is; the difficulty is in reaching BIM Level 2 and beyond. He said his members are aware they have to adopt BIM to be in a position to win future tenders. There is a challenge to develop capacity in a short timeline and to develop resources. BIM requires strategic planning and organisations must go through a process of cultural change to adapt to the collaborative and partnership nature of working with BIM.

Paul says members are undertaking training and upskilling within their organisations and doing third-level courses to adopt BIM if necessary. Engineers Ireland has been delivering BIM seminars and is involved with CitA and the CIC. Engineers Ireland hopes to hold a BIM seminar next year.

For the integration of BIM into the construction industry, Paul says information, training and amendments to conditions of engagement are required. Paul concluded ‘Enterprise Ireland are doing good work’ and the appointment of CitA as their training provider should help increase skills capacity.

Sean Downey of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), referring to the BIM Ireland survey, said BIM awareness is high among members. CIF members are interested in BIM Sean said, ‘particularly those working on pharmaceutical or other FDI projects.’ However, he says small companies have potential problems adopting BIM due to lack of time and resources. He says members experience on

BIM projects has helped them adopt BIM.

The CIF supports CitA, and encourages use of BIM through its membership groups. To further ease the integration of BIM into the construction industry Sean says there needs to be client ‘buy-in’ and the contractual framework needs to consider data transfer during the progress of works.

Looking forward to the CitA Gathering 2017

By 2017 big projects will have matured, notably Grangegorman and the new children’s hospital. This will allow CitA and industry stakeholders to review and analyse the progress made. Dr Alan Hore says the 2017 Gathering will be bigger.

DFM Systems have been providing Project Handover documentation and building O&M Manuals for over 10 year. They employ building services engineers and technicians, qualified in technical writing, to ensure that all documentation is complete and handed over as per client’s requirements in time for project completion.

The company has developed software applications to extract information from the thousands of lines on code within a BIM model and use this to ensure that all elements of the building are properly documented and that the building owner has everything needed to operate and maintain his new facility.

According to Bobby Gallagher, CEO at DFM Systems, there has been a dramatic shift in clients’ expectations in recent months as building owners become more informed of the huge benefits of BIM for Facilities Management – some reports document savings of up to 20% on operating and maintenance costs when BIM is used throughout the whole life cycle of a building.

COBie is often specified as the end deliverable at construction project handover, and while this can ensure that good documentation is delivered if the COBie process and format is followed fully, the end result is only really useful if imported into the clients CAFM or CMMS system – it’s almost impossible to find information if you have to scan through 15000 – 20000 lines in an excel spreadsheet no matter how organised the information is. The Digital Safety Files / O&M software that DFM Systems has developed solve this problem by presenting the information in a clean and concise user interface designed to ensure that valuable information can be found very quickly and easily.

DFM Systems has also developed a solution that can use QR Codes to give the client detailed information simply by scanning the QR code with a smart phone. “Everything from the colour of the paint on the wall to the contact and maintenance information for an Air Handling Unit can be made available in the QR Code” says Bobby.

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