BIM in design, construction and operations
Building Information Modelling (BIM) has made a revolution in the way we design, construct and manage our project’s life-cycle. BIM has far and reaching consequences on both building procurement and infrastructure. This recent emergence constitutes one of the most exciting developments in the field of the Built Environment. These advances have offered project teams multi-sensory collaborative tools and opportunities for new communication structures.
To delve into the innovative solutions BIM can offer and predict the future trends, Construction World Magazine, under the aegis of ASAPP Info Global Group and FIRST Construction Council, organised the CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT virtually on July 22-23, 2021, to identify proven, innovative and globally established construction technologies.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) has made a revolution in the way we design, construct and manage our project’s life-cycle. BIM has far and reaching consequences on both building procurement and infrastructure. This recent emergence constitutes one of the most exciting developments in the field of the Built Environment. These advances have offered project teams multi-sensory collaborative tools and opportunities for new communication structures.To delve into the innovative solutions BIM can offer and predict the future trends, Construction World Magazine, under the aegis of ASAPP Info Global Group and FIRST Construction Council, organised the CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT virtually on July 22-23, 2021, to identify proven, innovative and globally established construction technologies. The summit is presented by Bentley Systems, with Autodesk as the design and technology partner, and is supported by the India BIM Association.In the session on ‘BIM in Design, Construction, and Operations’, moderator Yash Pratap Singh, Partner-Major Projects Advisory, KPMG, began the session highlighting, “As far as the BIM penetration is concerned vis-à-vis what the infrastructure market has to offer, my perspective is that we are only scratching the surface right now and this is despite the fact that BIM has been in India for more than a decade now.” Clearly this is a massive untapped market as far the BIM-based system digitilisation is concerned. In fact, considering the current pandemic, it has also heightened the need for digitalisation using BIM and given us the opportunity to leapfrog – whether in the private sector or public sector – to leverage this pandemic and and exploit the full potential of BIM. If you look at the investments coming up in the country, overall, we need to be better geared to deliver using technologies like BIM, and this will be successful if we have the entire ecosystem – whether it's the government, the private sector organisations, the OEMS, the service providers – come together to make this work because everyone has as a critical role to play and this ecosystem has to work together to make this happen on a much larger scale, adds Singh. “While the investment is happening more on the government side, we also need to see how we need to make the mind shift at the policy think-tanks level to start thinking of having sort of a national mandate to make sure this gets cascaded down to the government projects also.”How can the thrust on BIM be increased from the government and the PSU sector?Currently, BIM adoption in India is happening in silos. “Organisations such as the NHAI or any of the metro SPVs or the road or infra development SPVs are coming together at an organisation level and trying to mandate BIM at an implementation level, but that is not what is happening at the policy or the government level,” shares Sonali Dhopte, Director, Excelize. “What is being proposed by an organisation is not the same that the other organisation is necessarily proposing. And so, the issue of interoperability. If we have those challenges eliminated through some public policy or mandate, I think we will have won half the battle of being future-ready.”Singh agrees that it needs be looked at from the life-cycle view, “also because you are building the asset not just for the sake of building it but for operating it as well, which is much bigger than the Capex cycle; and BIM can add a lot of value. And, since a lot of government assets are owned by government agencies as well, they will need to adopt this view as well,” he believes.Increasing the government penetration for BIMRohini Kulkarni, BIM & VDC, Digital Transformation Specialist, AECOM, resonates Dhopte’s view. According to her, most importantly, the asset owners or the asset maintaining group that comes together is where the initial set-up and initial implementation has to be brought in. The thrust should in a way start from there. “It plugs into a whole holistic engagement as well as a holistic action. At the government level, they need to understand why we need to move towards this area.” Kulkarni adds that while the RoI may not be visible in the first few years of implementation, it will pass through the cycles of about 5-10 years down the line. What sort of mandates can the PSU-level follow to make this happen?When it comes to the technology adoption for pushing BIM and BIM-related processes, it is still seen as a cost-based exercise and not as a value-driven exercise, highlights Kalyanaraman Vaidyanathan, Director-Business Development, Bentley Systems. “And that is also because we probably do not have one solid case study to say that ‘Here is how much I’ve saved’; and lack of that means there is a very short term need to push for RoI, which is not very realisable.” He goes on to say that when the whole ecosystem adopts such a thing, the cost comes down, and it creates capability in the market for people to use and adopt these technologies. “The government is the biggest employer, and the biggest enabler we can get from the government is to create a pan-country infrastructure, both in terms of capabilities and move people to think away from very short term RoIs to a more value-driven exercise. That alone will help and then everything else will fall in place.” Vaidyanathan adds that OEM vendors are happy to create such an operatability. “Those are sort of operational dynamics, what you need is that culture, that ecosystem and that the thought of the technology being a cost-based investment to a value-driven engagement exercise.”In agreement, Singh adds that even from the government point of view, if the taxpayer money is actually being spent on this Rs 111 trillion investment which is coming up, “that mind shift has to happen at the government level to make this happen and to get the maximum amount of people using technologies like BIM.”NIP and how we can expand the reach of BIM to other sectors In India, over the last few years, the usage of BIM has been largely on the transportation sector and the urban development sector. Having said that, investments are happening in the other sectors as well. As per the NIP, almost 70 per cent of the projects coming up in the country are in the sectors of energy, roads, railways, irrigation, rural infra – and all of this will consolidate to about Rs 70 trillion of projects, says Singh. “So, if we are able to achieve cost-cutting and time-cutting at this scale, then definitely there is significant value which remains untapped at the overall country level.”Now how can we expand the reach of BIM from transportation and urban infra to make this happen and have full potential in other sectors as well – be it energy, irrigation, roads and highways? Dr Amarnath CB, President, BIM Association of India and Head-BIM Strategy, Larsen & Toubro Construction, responds, “The most important thing is not looking at BIM as a technology; it is about data.” He explains: If you look into the global market, there are clients side strategic experts who formulate the history transformation for their clients. And they monitor the progress of BIM in their projects. That itself is one of key things lacking. Clients have to have that kind of strategic leadership team to mature their projects.Secondly, when we look into the service providers, from the technologies to the BIM services to the overall system – contractors, designers, etc – there is no proper connect within, highlights Dr Amarnath. “So if I want to use BIM in the life-cycle, not even a single vendor has a complete solution to drive it. And, we don’t have every participant in the ecosystem to follow the solution. That’s where the open BIM closed BIM concept comes in.” According to him, integrated BIM across the life-cycle is the way forward in the global sector. Technology vendors first need to make sure that their technologies are interoperable among other technologies, he avers. Also, technology pricing is not cheap – some are cheaper, some are expensive, notes Dr Amarnath. Here, it becomes a challenge for client to go with BIM implementation. “So, one is the pricing. The second is you don’t have a strategic implementation or a roadmap in front of you – for a project level or client level or organisation level. Third is the kind of team capable to deal with those kind of services across the life-cycle,” he summarises. Design is one thing but at the construction, operation and maintenance level, there are not much of skilled professionals in this area. Even if there are people, they are not paid well enough, and so they will move to other countries, he notes. “Many Indians who have these capabilities are not working for India or for Indian projects. Many of the BIM service companies in India are not working for Indian projects.” Evidently, anyone included in service providing – including the tech vendors and the service providers – should bring in a clear RoI picture for the client with practical examples. “If we cannot put this into place, forget the big-scale projects, there are many SME projects and many of them are not able to go with it because of the kind of investment it needs,” says Dr Amarnath.Indeed, the overall awareness of BIM in the industry has to now be at a completely different level across the stakeholders.How can BIM be democratised in the construction industry? How can it be made a business-as-usual in construction?In real estate, there are keywords used – such as what is the cost, the quantity, how is the quality, and what is the schedule, avers Tushar Vagal, CIO & Head Digital, L&T Realty. “When I say cost I’d say WBS (Work Breakdown Structures), when I say quantity I’d say BOQ, when I say quality I’d say clash detection, when I say schedule I’d say service masters, etc. These things keep coming up, and a BIM ecosystem can definitely solve this problem.” He observes that about 20-25 years back when we started doing software development in India, we had small successes. “The same has to also happen to the BIM environment.” Notably, in Mumbai, the MCGM is making a BIM DCR. “After six months or so, it will become mandatory to make a 3D BIM drawing and all the measurements will happen with laser scanners and all the approvals will be given by laser scanners,” shares Vagal. And so, the future is there, and within the next one year, we all have to be on BIM. Indeed!