Tools for a new generation

Group Manager, BIM Systems, Don Cameron looks at how design software has the potential to change the construction industry.



So you’ve got to take the kids to sport on the weekend, or visit a warehouse sale across town, you reach for the Refidex/ Melways/Gregory’s?

Probably not!

Conveniently in your pocket, or built into your car is a device that can:
• Use a bunch of satellites orbiting the earth at 3060m/second to locate where you are on the planet within a few metres.
• Look up where you want to go.
• Use that information to seamlessly provide you with a virtual moving map, spoken directions, live traffic conditions, and how long it will take to get there.

So what is our destination in construction? In the same way that Google Maps and Whereis overlay useful information over a map, we can do the same sort of thing in construction using Building Information Modelling (BIM).

BIM is a bit like using iTunes, where all our music is categorised and organised so it is searchable to easily find what we are looking for.

BIM uses structured information enabling you to find what you need easily, all arranged conveniently in a 3D filing cabinet that looks like the infrastructure we are constructing.

The linking of this information makes the right information available where you need it. BIM offers us the power to see all of the components coordinated in a design model. We can use clash detection routines to do this, where models from all the design consultants and subcontractors are combined and are space checked, and any interferences are highlighted and captured in a report. This tool can help to reduce site errors and re-work resulting in significant cost and time savings.

Similarly, this accurate digital model in which all the elements are finally coordinated can be used in the field to digitally set out items, from cable trays, plant and equipment to columns and slab edges. Verification of the set out of items can also be easily performed.

Out on site, since everything is digitally organised, you can easily look up a specification linked to a model object for example, and review details you need.
Of course with a future that is likely to be filled with driverless cars and trucks, robots and other tools, the challenge is how to manage this change, to adapt to use these tools. The good news is, lots of them are as easy as using Google Maps and they are really empowering.

Truly we live in an age of incredible opportunity to leverage all this to make our lives easier. On a practical note it is great to see some excellent local initiatives:
• BIM MEP AUS, an initiative by the local MEP contractors to make available useful standardised models for industry to use.
• Transport for NSW now commencing their digital engineering program where they hope to leverage this technology.
• Similarly, we see the Queensland Government trialling BIM and looking to have full BIM implementation on projects by 2023.
• NSW Health Infrastructure requiring BIM for all its forthcoming projects.
• The Victorian Government engaging with industry on BIM in its Construction Sector Technologies Program.