How BIM is Inspiring Construction

BIM (building information modelling) is a 3D modelling process that enables efficient planning, design and construction of buildings and infrastructure.

Getting the best out of BIM is dependent on people being invested in it. BIM can only function correctly if people who are working with it understand and want to work with it throughout its lifecycle. Assuaging fears and misconceptions about BIM is part of my role at Wilmott Dixon and often people think that it is simply a 3D model. But the benefits far outweigh any of these misconceptions.

BIM facilitates communication throughout the whole process of construction, from early concept stage through to handover to the client.  It is underpinned by standard ISO 19650, which outlines the principles on how to manage building information and lays out those requirements in the delivery phase of construction.

An ideal implementation needs a well-informed and engaged client and end-user, particularly a client who knows how to be specific about what they want. This clearly defines what is needed along the whole supply chain. Throughout the process each supplier can communicate what they can provide and what they are doing and when.

How BIM works at Wilmott Dixon

At Willmott Dixon the use of BIM has been revolutionary. There has been a significant amount of interaction with everyone who works on a project. We have a preferred supplier lists and preferred supply chain, so we can be assured of the best products and warranties.

Through BIM everyone is aware of how Willmott Dixon work and what we need from a design, health and safety and preliminaries point of view.

We support suppliers through the BIM process with collaborative design sessions, so everyone understands what is needed, what the potential issues will be. These sessions give them the ability to see what is needed to get the project done.

Building Information Modelling in action to build a hospital

Wilmott Dixon worked on a primary care hospital project in South London. At the outset, it was difficult to narrow down what the client wanted – they wanted ‘everything!’

The collaborative nature of BIM means we could work on visuals to work up what the client was telling us. We then used a  virtual reality headset so clients could visualise what the hospital would look like and see what the people working there would see. As a result they were able to give feedback, make decisions and be specific.

The use of BIM meant that the design was constantly updated and allowed for changes and modifications at design stage. This saved wasted time and money through the need for changes at construction stage.

We could quickly and efficiently check supply chain quality of work as construction proceeded, too. We were able to spot where elements of the design had been missed and correct them quickly, before it led to expensive rework.

It is worth investing time in how to use BIM in your company?

The benefits of BIM might not be immediately clear and it may seem that it isn’t providing benefits for the client. It does take time to know how it can be used in your company, but to get it implemented, there needs to be a shift in understanding. Its transparency can be intimidating at first, as it forces people to collaborate and there are no grey areas with BIM.

But enabling transparency, collaboration and trust leads to very little waste of time or money and efficient delivery of construction.

This article is based on an interview with Andrew Gamblen, Digital Manager at Willmott Dixon.