Specialists will need no reminding of how difficult and complex it is to run a successful business in our sector in the current climate, and with all the signs that an economic recovery is still some distance away the situation is set to continue, and BIM looks to be the future.

The Federation is there to support members in navigating through these choppy waters and we
are keen to respond to members’ needs just as members have to meet their own clients’ ever more demanding requirements.

The latest monster to loom over the horizon is BIM, about which you will inevitably have heard by now and perhaps some readers have already begun to encounter this on contracts where they are engaged.

BIM (building information modelling) is surely the future and within a decade we could quite possibly be wondering what life was ever like before it came along. The time to understand it therefore is now.

In its simplest form BIM is merely a way of modelling a building in 3D to ensure everything fits together and interacts as intended – a very advanced form of design which goes beyond drawings. But to predict exactly where it will go and what impact it will have is less easy.

Once a building exists in a 3D model, accompanied by all the necessary physical data on every component within it, we can then prepare production and procurement schedules, forecast energy costs and waste implications (and therefore seek to reduce these). Contractors will even start to assess the provision of manpower required to construct a finished building. By predicting staffing levels needed and, crucially checking the credentials of all against databases you’ll be able to ensure that all operatives are properly qualified in the required skills.

With the continual improvement of handheld technology this type of information can be communicated more widely and quickly than now. Even the smallest construction schemes could be
reached by BIM.

As with all innovations there are risks. By its very nature BIM is intended to bring the supply chain closer together. The actions of one subcontractor, or lack of action, could cascade through a project leading to potential conflict.

BIM will require new resources. Firstly, in terms of skill to understand BIM and then use it productively. And secondly, in terms of acquiring new hardware and software so that you can access BIM models on your contracts.

There is also opportunity for specialists to gain greater recognition of the impact our sector has on a contract.

It will be important for specialists to prepare their businesses for these challenges and opportunities. The Federation will be running a series of information and training seminars about the subject to help our sector to be better prepared.

BIM, like many such innovations, may appear daunting, but if we embrace and understand it, and start to do so now before it overtakes us, then we can benefit from it and help to shape it and our businesses to fit each other, rather than have it ‘done to us’. Get up to speed now and with the support of your Federation, be at the forefront of this major development.

BE PREPARED FOR BIM – for more information about FPDC’s BIM information and training seminars email membership@fpdc.org