NSAI Construction Sector Seminar: BIM & Standards


National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) in conjunction with CitA held a seminar on the topic of ‘BIM Policy & Standards for Ireland’ this week. BIMIreland.ie spoke to ArcDox’s Ralph Montague about the seminar.

Describing organising the seminar, Ralph Montague said, “‘BIM Policy & Standards for Ireland’ was organized by the NSAI, in conjunction with CitA. It is clearly recognised by some key stakeholders in the construction industry that the development of Public Procurement Policy in Europe in relation to using BIM was moving on, particularly with the establishment of the EU BIM Task Group (http://www.eubim.eu/). The seminar’s purpose was to engage and inform interested stakeholders, with the aim of establishing a National Mirror Committee on BIM Standards.”

Dr Alan Hore, Director of CitA, chaired the event. The speakers and presentation were as follows:

Keynote speaker Adam Matthews, Chair of the European BIM Task Group, outlined the drivers and purpose of the work that the task group have been funded to carry out over the next 2 years, which aims to align or harmonise European policy in relation to public procurement utilizing BIM, through the development of a guidance handbook for public procuring agencies.

Ralph Montague, from BIM consultancy ArcDox, and coordinator of the RIAI practice sub-committee for BIM, as well as the CitA BIM Group, provided a brief overview of why BIM standards were necessary, and what standards were currently available and what was being developed.

Yvonne Wylde from the NSAI explained the mechanics of how interested stakeholders might engage with the standards development process in Europe through the NSAI.

John Hunt, Senior Market Advisor for Construction Sector at Enterprise Ireland, explained the supporting role that Enterprise Ireland is providing to industry in relation to developing skills and capability required, and announced some broader national initiatives, such as the appointment of CitA as research partners for the BIM Innovation & Capability Programme (BICP) and the soon to be launched National BIM Council for Ireland.

Paul Brennan, Virtual Design & Construction Manager for BAM Contractors, gave an excellent talk on the Contractor’s View of BIM “on the ground”, highlighting that clients and employers themselves, need to follow the requirements of the standards, when specifying BIM projects, and not expect contractors, who are often engaged very late in the project, to have to sort out all the BIM requirements.

David O’Connell, Director of McAuley Daye O’Connell Architects, and chair of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) BIM working group outlined the CIC Vision for BIM and the challenges the working group aims to address.

Fergal O’Byrne, Head of Business Excellence for NSAI Certification, discussed the options available to adopting BIM as a quality management system.

Ralph’s presentation focused on BIM Standards, and why we needed them. He said, “I highlighted some of the problems encountered in construction, because of out-dated paper-based processes and the lack of standardization. I discussed some of the benefits that a digital, model-based process would bring to projects, in terms of visual understanding, controlling programme and costs, improving quality and performance. The aim of BIM is to build Better Buildings, Quicker & Cheaper, but this would only be possible if all the participants on projects were following a standardized way of producing, managing and exchanging digital information in a collaborative way. I noted that for Ireland’s construction industry, we simply had to adopt, as a first step, the standards developed in the UK, which in turn have been developed from International or ISO standards. Lastly, I highlighted the opportunity that existed for Irish companies who become good at BIM, to export products and services to the EU and around the world, but equally the threat to those who don’t embrace BIM of being uncompetitive or even excluded from projects.”

Ralph said attendees got a clear sense of what is happening at European level in relation to policy and standards, and a sense of urgency for Irish businesses to get going or be left behind. A realization that we don’t have to “re-invent the wheel” in Ireland, but we can build on the great work carried out in the UK, in Europe, and the International Standards Organisation.


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