The Great British BIM Off

Hello BIMfans,
While watching the best of our British bakers produce a plethora of pastries on The Great British Bake-off, I suddenly came to a realization. Construction is a lot like baking.

Yum, I can almost taste the pixels…

If you, like me, try to attend many of the excellent buildingSMARTUK BIM Alliance, and BIM Region events to keep up to date with Building Information Modelling (BIM), you have probably heard from some great industry leaders. However, you may have also heard something like this:

“Construction needs to move towards how things are done in the automotive industry; they’ve done BIM for years!”

This kind of statement confounds me, how can you compare the two? While both industries are mostly made up of small to medium enterprises (around 99% of both industries), the similarities end there.

In the automotive industry, billions are spent on research and development with prototypes being constructed, tested, and deconstructed before a product is finalized. While in construction, research and development work is included within the design fee; a fraction of the final asset cost. Except for a few exceptions like Atkins’ Sunesis, we research, design, and build an asset once.

To me, comparing both industries is no different than comparing chalk with cheese.

While I reject the automotive analogy, there is an industry I consider much more comparable to construction; baking.

In fact, the bake-off technical challenge can be seen as a good example of the issues associated with poor briefs.  During the technical challenge, bakers interpret the brief they are given to produce a solution. However, often the briefs lack sufficient information causing incorrect, ambiguous or incomplete solutions; this sounds an awful lot like what happens in construction.

By extension, if the bakers were given a better brief (forming a brief with smart requirements using BS 8536), they might have been able to produce more consistent results.  While this might negatively affect the format of the show it would lead to less abortive work, better use of materials, reduce frustrations and an increase the judge’s satisfaction.  In essence the spirit of BIM.

Through BIM Level 2, a UK Government requirement, an employer is required to produce a clear set of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable realistic and time-bound) information requirements aligned to their organizational goals and the needs of their asset management team.  Having these requirements tells a supplier:

  • Why information is required (Purpose);
  • What information is required (Structure);
  • When information is required (Milestones); and
  • How to deliver information (File formats).

If produced clearly, these requirements mean that a supplier can produce their information more efficiently with reduced errors, rework, and more consistent tender returns as shown during the Avanti Programme.  Meaning that the right information is given to the right people, at the right time, in the right format.

So the next time you don that apron, ask yourself “Do you bake with BIM?”


Note:  This article was originally posted on LinkedIn, and has since been updated and transferred by the author to  Please support ‘The Great British Bake Off‘ (#GBBO) on Channel 4.



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