Why specialists must train to BIM

June 2nd, 2015 Posted in: Lakesmere

With the clock ticking ahead of the Government’s 2016 deadline, the general feeling across the industry seems to be more BIM weary than BIM ready.  That is of course if a recent survey by law firm Pinsent Masons is to be believed.  The results of this widely publicised report suggests that one of the main barriers to achieving Level 2 BIM capability is the apparent lack of understanding among subcontractors, alongside ineffective collaboration throughout the supply chain.  As a snapshot of the industry’s views, it does give some great headlines but what is the fact behind the opinion – is the specialist sector really struggling as much as the survey suggests?

A quick poll across the Lakesmere Group’s regional network paints a much more optimistic picture.  If it is true that specialist subcontractors are struggling with BIM adoption then we are proud to be bucking the trend and our investment in staff training is the main reason we are staying ahead of the game.

We are currently working on our third BIM Level 2 contract, having already completed nine projects to BIM Level 1.  The success of these contracts has been the development of Lakesmere’s bespoke BIM Academy training initiative, which was updated last year to include the implementation of BIM Level 2.  This company-wide programme is helping us to up-skill our pool of designers to ensure a consistent level of knowledge and expertise across the business as well as proficiency in the use of BIM software. Adding strength to this we have also developed a bespoke ‘Lakesmere BIM Diploma’ to recognise applied use of BIM.

Another way that Lakesmere is perhaps taking a different approach is by embracing BIM outside of the design department.  We now offer BIM awareness training to all staff across the company’s various disciplines and include it in the induction process for all new employees. This means that the many benefits of BIM are being utilised by various departments throughout the company from producing concept images to assist with tenders, streamlining the procurement and manufacturing process and helping with project visualisation on-site.

We have worked hard to stay ahead of the curve but we are also well aware that our knowledge and understanding of BIM is a work in progress.  With this in mind, we have also developed our own 27-page BIM handbook which is continually updated to reflect the latest processes and best working practices.  The document includes a workflow diagram establishing a clear process for using BIM and a client questionnaire to ensure clear understanding of the BIM Execution Plan (BEP) from the outset.  In the absence of any industry-wide standards, we have also produced our own standards manual, allowing clients to choose a level of BIM functionality before work progresses.

With any major change in the industry, there is always going to be a period of uncertainty and without doubt, some specialist contractors will find themselves out of their depth when the 2016 BIM deadline is met. Some, like Lakesmere, are already there but others will have to work extremely hard over the next six months to ramp up their BIM training.   However, the spirit of BIM is collaboration and pessimistic outlooks of premature failings do little to help encourage progression. By 2016, the whole of the construction industry must be BIM ready. We are in this together so let’s not write the specialist sector off just yet.

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