The Great British BIM Off

Hello BIMfans,
While watching the best of our British bakers create a plethora of pastries on the Great British Bake-off, I realised just how similar construction is to baking.

Yum, I can almost taste the pixels

If you, like me, try to attend a number of construction and Building Information Modelling (BIM) events, you are likely to hear something like this:

“We in construction need to move towards how things are done in the automotive industry, they have done BIM for years!”

These kind of comments confuse me, how can you possibly compare both industries?

While both industries are disproportionately represented by SMEs (both around 99% of sector organisations), the similarities end there.  In the automotive industry, millions are spent on Research and Development (R&D), with prototypes being constructed tested and deconstructed before a product is finalised, while in construction the R&D is included within the design fee and is relatively a fraction of the final build cost.  In addition, once a product has been designed it replicated thousands of times, aside from a few exception such as Atkins’ Sunesis concept,  we design and build an asset once.  To me it is no different than comparing chalk with cheese.

However, there is an industry I consider much more comparable to construction; baking.  In fact while watching bake-off, the technical challenge can be seen as a good example of the construction briefing and procurement process.  Initially a brief is formed, a number of competing parties interpret the brief and produce their proposals.  However, often the briefs lack in sufficient information causing ambiguity, assumptions are made and as a result variations are visible in the end product; this sounds an awful lot like our industry too.

So looking at these technical challenges something comes to mind.  If the bakers were given a better brief (something I have discussed on this blog before), they might have been able to produce more similar results.  While this might negatively affect the format of the show (as does the move to Channel 4!), it would lead to less abortive work, less misuse of particular materials, reduce frustrations, and increase the judge’s satisfaction.  In essence the spirit of BIM.

Through BIM an employer is required to form a set of information requirements in collaboration with the employer’s organisation and the team responsible for managing the asset.  Through this process a detailed specification of what information is required throughout the project stages and at handover tells the supply team clearly what information is required and when.  This means that the supply chain can design providing less ambiguity, which through case studies such as the Avanti Programme has resulted in advantages such as less rework, and more consistent tender returns.  Meaning that at project handover the employer, asset managers, and end users have:  The project they want, and the data they want in a format that they can use and manage; leading to better satisfaction and a better project.

So remember next time you don that apron, ask yourself “Are you baking to BIM Level 2?”

Note:  The article was originally posted on LinkedIn here, and has been updated and transferred to this blog.


3 thoughts on “The Great British BIM Off

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