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How can BIM affect the construction industry?

How can BIM affect the construction industry?
Times are tough in the construction industry with many predicting that there is not due to be much improvement as many companies look for the next major project they can work on.

While it may seem like its all doom and gloom within the sector there is an innovative technology that is helping a lot of businesses move forward into the 21st century in terms of construction techniques. This has been helped massively by the introduction of building information modelling (BIM) which is allowing firms to expertly plan their projects prior to the first brick being laid. It is considered as being a key aspect that could drive the industry forward, and companies in the UK are becoming increasingly keen to take up the technology.

BIM is essentially a tool which is used in the creation of new buildings and uses 3D visualisations to allow contractors to assess what a structure will look like before any actual groundwork is undertaken. It is designed to help construction companies gain the foresight of any potential problems that may occur within the structure during the building phase and can help avoid any costly mistakes that could be made. Another key factor is improving productivity throughout the construction of the structure.

The government is also taking a keen interest in BIM, and in response to news that the construction industry was heading into more troubled water it announced the launch of BIM 2050. This initiative is designed to bring together young professionals from every aspect of the sector whether it is architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors or those from the legal profession, to voice their opinion on the digital technologies for future construction projects.

It is just one of a host of schemes that the government has set up after previously implementing this strategy to the Delivery Supply Chain, Retail, Infrastructure and SMEs group. The BIM 2050 collective will assess the role of BIM, as well as a host of other digital technologies used in the industry, in future projects working through to 2050. Officials behind the formation of the group explained that the priorities will include the development of a culture of integration and exploiting new technologies.

Chloe Smith, cabinet office parliamentary secretary, said: "It is imperative we pass the baton of reform to the next generation of engineers and architects and the BIM 2050 group will help do this – it provides young construction professionals with a voice to challenge existing ways of working and deliver better results for the public and UK plc.

"We are in a global race and there is a real opportunity for our BIM know-how to be used more at home as well as exporting our technology expertise."

The prominence of BIM is due to be put under the microscope during the meetings of BIM 2050 which will seek out resolutions to the challenges that face the construction industry. By addressing these issues, it will help to allow companies working within the UK to speed up the process of bringing a project from the initial planning stage to the completed article.

BIM has been on the government's radar for a considerable amount of time and in December ministers unveiled a strategy which aimed to make the UK a world leader in terms of the technology.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a 12-point document which outlined that the construction sector could potentially capitalise on the "window of opportunity" in BIM. It explained that the government was keen on improving the growth of the current system in place but wanted to develop international standards.

Theses ambitions displayed the high importance that ministers had placed on the digital technology and only heightened the industry's need for it. The paper stated that the UK's BIM initiative was "currently the most ambitious and advanced centrally driven programme in the world" and could compete with a host of other nations.

However, officials also specified that countries such as the US and Sweden were ahead of the UK at the current time but the nation could easily challenge these two in the coming years.

The document said: "Other countries are rapidly adopting BIM; we need to progress with the adoption of BIM or these markets will begin to close to UK businesses as countries look for home grown expertise or source its skills and capabilities from elsewhere in the world.

"The threat is at its greatest from dynamic emerging markets, where competition is able to 'leapfrog' using innovative technologies and ways of working."

BIM was also highlighted as playing a key role in boosting economic growth in both the domestic and international markets. If successfully implemented it may help to stimulate the financial state of the construction industry and help drag it out of the current contraction that was highlighted in the latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index.

Embracing new technology such as BIM will not only help companies construct buildings much easier and in improved times but it can also provide significant benefits to the sector as a whole and it is an area that the government is keen to capitalise on.

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Date: 22/01/2013 16:10:00

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