When the UK launched its Construction Strategy 2016-20, one of the most eye-catching features was that construction firms had to be BIM level 2 certified to work on government projects (or at least be working towards certification). Now that this period is over, BIM Level 2 should, in theory, be widespread in the industry.
So, has this drive towards raising BIM levels been a success?
What is BIM level 2?
The phrase BIM level 2 describes smart projects where 3D BIM models detail every characteristic of a building or engineering project. Besides using 3D modelling, it also emphasises improved collaboration where all key stakeholders have a shared view of the project.
The government encouraged the construction industry to implement BIM Level 2 as part of its Digital Built Britain drive which seeks to improve processes and make the building industry more efficient. During the next phase of the strategy, construction firms will need to work towards BIM Level 3 by 2025.
Learn more: Read about the benefits of BIM
The BIM levels are:
- Level 0 – 2D CAD drawings mainly using paper or PDF
- Level 1 – Mainly 2D drawings which share information in a ‘common data environment’ (basically a centralised pool of building model information and digital blueprints)
- BIM Level 2 – Uses 3D models where stakeholders can collaborate and contribute based on their own specialism
- BIM Level 3 – Every worker on a building project has access to building information modelling apps where they can see the project and tasks that they must complete
Modelling in use:
A contractor was invited to propose an internal redesign of the Cookham And Wood Prison. To improve visibility and illumination inside the prison, they suggested the use of reinforced glass, rather than traditional metal bars. During the initial proposal, the prison’s governor accepted this idea.
However, once the designers created a BIM model, the governor realised that glass would prevent sound travelling through the space. This is important for prison security guards who want to monitor behaviour. As a result, the contractor and client chose metal bars instead. Use of BIM level 2 ensured that designers could detect this problem early on and avoided expensive refits later.
Has BIM Level 2 been a success?
Generally speaking, the deployment of BIM Level 2 has been received positively in the industry. Many more firms are now using BIM software, and case studies report that it has saved time and money on thousands of building projects. The approach has a track record of improving building projects in several different areas:
Because BIM Level 2 uses 3D modelling for clash detection, thousands of projects have saved significant sums of money by identifying and resolving issues early. For example, on one road-building project BIM models identified 360 issues that would not have been discovered otherwise. A PwC study shows that the average cost of clash rectification would have been £2,500, meaning that BIM saved the project some £900,000 in total.
Using BIM models can save businesses a huge amount of time. PwC suggests that simply having access to centralised models reduces time spent searching for and sharing asset information by 70%. They also identified several projects where reviews of models helped project teams discover problems early that could have caused disruption.
One key benefit of BIM models is that they can reduce waste from construction sites. PwC’s research describes how one ice rink project used a BIM model to accurately calculate how much material would be needed and therefore avoided purchasing surplus material. This prevented hundreds of tons of wasted material.
Adoption of BIM level 2 has gradually increased in the UK over the last four years. While there are plenty of case studies highlighting success, the wider picture of adoption is perhaps a little less impressive.
For example, in a survey of construction industry professionals, 44% said that the implementation of BIM level 2 on government projects has not been very successful – and only four percent believe it has been a very positive experience. Two-fifths of survey respondents reported that they still did not know how to comply with the rules. What’s more, many say that a lack of in-house knowledge or experience is holding them back from compliance.
BIM Level 3 is around the corner
BIM Level 2 now seen as the minimum requirement for any company that wishes to collaborate on government projects. Therefore, it’s increasingly necessary to meet these standards. With BIM Level 3 compliance expected by 2025, it’s time for companies to plan how they will introduce the technology.
Although it will involve an upfront investment, this should pay dividends. The current UK government is urging firms to “build, build, build”, so being BIM Level 3 compliant will open up a pipeline of new work.
PlanRadar supports all BIM levels
PlanRadar is a project management application which allows you to import and use BIM models on handheld devices like tablets or smartphones. This allows any contractor to view the 3D representations of your projects. Snags and jobs can then be located precisely on the model. It also allows contractors to communicate and collaborate more easily with other project members.
By bringing accurate, dynamic 3D models to any worker on a project, this feature fully supports firms that wish to meet the requirements of BIM Level 3.