Building Information Modelling in Ireland 2017

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Since 2016 the BIM Innovation Capability Programme (BICP) has captured the capability of the Irish Construction Industry and the Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) response to the increased requirement for BIM on Irish construction and engineering projects.

The accumulation of this research to-date is to be published by CitA in the Building Information Modelling in Ireland 2017 report soon. This report is a celebration of BIM capability and BIM initiatives in Ireland and tells a story of how BIM will assist in addressing many of the challenges the Irish Construction Industry now faces. It also seeks to lend further assistance to the National BIM Council of Ireland who are currently working on a National BIM Roadmap.

The freefall collapse of the Irish Construction Industry and wider economy between 2007 and 2012 brought with it a number of consequences that are now creating a significant number of challenges. According to the 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Construction industry survey, optimism is high in the Irish Construction Industry, but securing finance for projects (54%) is the top challenge facing the industry, followed by competitive project pricing (44%) and the scarcity of qualified staff (32%). The Irish Construction Prospects to 2016 report also cited the quality of new graduates and ageing workforce as key barriers. The report also demonstrates further concerns in reaching current housing targets, which remains a vexing and challenging problem that will require innovative procurement models, as well as the innovative use of ICT solutions to expedite housing delivery in Ireland.

The report suggested that technologies and innovative practices, such as, BIM and Lean Construction have the potential to fundamentally enhance the industry’s competitiveness.

Given the backdrop to the recovery of the sector and the increasingly important contribution that Irish construction is currently making to the Irish economy, the Government in recent years has focused much of its attention on the AEC sector, and in particular, the importance of the use of digital tools and processes, such as, those offered by BIM. It commenced with the 2013 Forfás Ireland’s Construction Sector: Outlook and Strategic Plan to 2015 which made a specific mention of BIM in the report with an action for Enterprise Ireland, Industry Representative Bodies, HEIs and Skillnets to work together to promote the use of BIM and develop the appropriate technical skills amongst Irish construction firms. We can clearly see that this work is well underway and Ireland is now poised to bring an orderly strategic BIM programme for both the Government and Industry in the latter half of 2017.

In January 2016 the Government launched Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025 which identified technology as a key driver for change in the economy. The report specifically identifies sector specific skill needs, which included, chartered surveyors; internationalisation and management capability; ICT, BIM systems and Green Economy skills.

The Government also published Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, in July 2016, which included an array of actions to stimulate housing delivery in Ireland. A particular action flowing from the Action for Jobs 2017 (recommendation 32) included a requirement for the Office of Government and Enterprise Ireland to prepare a strategy for the adoption of BIM across the public capital programme and to mandate the manner in which it is to be adopted across the public sector.

In response to this recommendation the GCCC, following consultation with public bodies, prepared a position paper for the purposes of inviting responses from industry. The position paper titled ‘A Public Sector BIM Adoption Strategy’ outlines the context and rationale for the adoption of BIM on Irish public works projects and puts forward a proposed timeline for BIM adoption ranging from 12 – 48 months.. These projects range from Band 1 which are of low complexity, such as low density housing projects, to Band 5 which are complex projects with a specialist operation and maintenance regime, such as acute hospitals.

The recently published BICP Global BIM Study 2017 published by CitA documented that over 50% of the 27 countries reviewed had a regulatory BIM requirement or were planning on implementing one in the near future. Over 60% of the countries reviewed have produced a BIM Guide or Manual to assist in the promotion of BIM locally. This report demonstrated how Ireland can learn from other jurisdictions, such as in France where BIM is expected to add significantly to the programme to deliver 500,000 homes by the end of this year. Our closest neighbour, the UK Government, has made the use of BIM mandatory for any new central capital funded public sector projects since April 2016.

The Scottish Government recently published a Scottish Procurement Policy Note 1/17 (SPPN) on the Implementation of BIM within Construction Projects to ensure better value for money from public procurement.

The outputs of the BICP will seek to influence the strategic use of BIM by key clients and procurement policy makers in Ireland. The BICP BIM in Ireland 2017 report provides an overview of the BIM working groups within the respective professional institutes i.e. SCSI BIM Working Group, RIAI BIM Committee, CIC BIM Committee, etc. The BICP has also helped establish a Client Working Group and the BIM Academic Forum of Ireland (BAFI).

A further section within the report details how Ireland’s HEIs have responded rapidly to a demand by industry for BIM related training and education despite the absence of a national BIM mandate. In a recent survey titled ‘Assessing the Current Position and Associated Challenges of BIM Education in Irish HEIs’ the BICP team surveyed members of BAFI. The results confirmed a healthy confidence among Irish HEIs that they were responding to the demand for BIM education in Ireland. The key challenges identified by the survey sample included how to incorporate BIM into an already concentrated programme; cost of purchasing software and upgrading hardware and changing the culture of academic staff. All the HEIs engaging in the survey reported an increase in demand from the industry to produce BIM enabled graduates. While no college could provide student statistics, it was noted that students are finding themselves employed within a number of diverse roles i.e. BIM Coordinator and BIM Engineer.

The report also seeks to bring transparency to the high level activity of live BIM projects. To achieve this, the BICP team through the Engaging with the ‘BIM Community’ survey engaged with persons who have a responsibility for BIM in the Irish AEC sector. The sample identified an impressive number of BIM projects that their companies were working on in Ireland. These included the application of BIM on social housing, hotels, primary care, education, commercial, pharmaceutical and food manufacturing facilities. Only 25% of the sample reported that they had secured grant funding for BIM. Funding was primarily sourced through Enterprise Ireland’s BIM enable and BIM implement initiatives.

Less than 20% of the respondents reported that they had sought BIM certification. The most popular choices of accreditation include BSI Level 2 Practice accreditation, BRE and Lloyds. The community of BIM practitioners reported they were comfortable with working with the requirements of BS 1192 and the PAS 1192 suite of standards. The NSAI BIM standards committee also continue to monitor and provide input to the CEN442 standard groups and advise the relevant authorities as appropriate.

Additional data collated by the BICP research team include a number of Irish BIM case studies which include the New Children’s Hospital, Schools Bundle 4, Greenway Hub, 1 Windmill Lane , MISA at St. James’ Hospital, Central Bank of Ireland in North Wall Quay, M8/M73/M74 Motorway, etc. These case studies are complemented through consultations with the National Development Financial Agency (NDFA), Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA), Office of Public Works (OPW), Department of Education and Skills (DoES), Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), Irish Water and Dublin City Council.

In order to establish Ireland’s BIM maturity internationally the BICP team are utilising the Macro Maturity Components model developed by Dr. Bilal Succar and Dr. Mohamad Kassem which identifies eight complementary components for establishing and measuring the BIM maturity of countries and other macro organisational scales. This will enable Ireland to be compared to other countries with regards to BIM maturity. The BICP BIM in Ireland 2017 report will provide a section on the initial results from this model.

Despite a slow return to prosperity, the Irish Construction Industry is experiencing tight profit margins, skills shortage, possible trade impediments through Brexit and the current housing crisis. The BICP BIM in Ireland 2017 report establishes the increasing relevance of BIM to Ireland in assisting with addressing these issues. The industry needs to address the skills shortage by making the industry more attractive, which according to Construction 2020 can be achieved through BIM, as it increases the attractiveness of the sector for younger professionals. The BICP research team includes Dr. Alan Hore (Dublin Institute of Technology), Dr. Barry McAuley (CitA) and Professor Roger West (Trinity College Dublin).

The BICP BIM in Ireland 2017 report ia available from the BICP Website (www.bicp.ie).

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