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FPS chairman’s blog: BIM – we’re getting there

Flip through any construction media and you’ll find plenty of stories warning about BIM’s slow progress and the potential impact this will have on meeting various targets, such as the government’s deadline for all public sector projects to be implemented in BIM in 2016.

Whilst this may be true for some sectors, the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS), whose members collectively represent a large proportion of the deep foundation and geotechnical industry, is making excellent progress.

Much of this progress can be attributed to the FPS’s BIM Working Group, which was established to ensure its members were ready to meet key targets, but also to help, assist and disseminate information vital to its implementation and to ensure key information, guidance and systems are in place to communicate with associated areas of the construction sector.

To date, five guidance notes have been completed which provide clear and concise information across a variety of BIM topics, from general information such as how BIM can help solve industry problems and what it means for individual businesses, through to software selection, which is critical to ensure the smooth transition and implementation of BIM.

The recent developments and wide adoption of BIM to manage information across the project timeline has meant there is a need for a unified approach to classification. For this reason we are also pushing Uniclass (Unified Classification for the Construction Industry) to develop codes for all ground engineering products, as many do not currently have codes.

Having codes for all ground engineering products will assist BIM implementation enormously as all products will be “in the system” electronically and covered by a unified classification system regardless of the author.

Of course, BIM is not just a system; it’s a way of working and will impact enormously on some of the major infrastructure projects of the future. With this in mind, the FPS BIM Working Group has already met with HS2 to discuss BIM input for foundation elements. BIM is being driven through the Tier 1 contractors, however, AGS data, FPS pile schedules and clarity on monitoring data are all considered good elements to drive BIM to Tier 2 level.

The FPS BIM Working Group’s aims are not static and we are constantly reviewing targets. We also have to react to the attitudes of members and be mindful that different companies will be moving at different speeds towards implementation, according to resource and business operations, and many will have very different issues that need to be considered too.

It is worth noting that while FPS members are enthusiastic and keen to embrace BIM, in many instances we are not being asked to be BIM compliant. Projects are simply not rolling down BIM compliance to Tier 2 contractors, which is a little concerning.

With the view that FPS members are still not required to be BIM compliant, the implementation of BIM in foundation contractors is slow. However, I think it is fair to say that most appreciate the benefits BIM will bring and also accept that they all will at some point have to engage in the programme to ensure they are not only in the best place to tender for some contracts, but in future, to pre-qualify and make it on to the tender list.

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