Digital Construction Week – passing the BIM baton

DCW is fast becoming one of the best events in the BIM calendar with a blend of great stages, new kit to play with and a diverse and interesting crowd, including the bulk of the #UKBIMcrew, who arrived with a genuine goal of learning something. Anyone who didn’t learn something, or at least hear something new at the event can’t have been listening, or was only there to escape the office in search of free coffee.

Apart from the good folks of Enterprise Ireland who brought their own coffee machine, there was a disturbing lack of caffeine in the room, but that was ok because there was plenty energy at the stages and the stands to go around.

When it comes to the conference content I felt a change in the wind which echoes the wider BIM mandate discussion. BIM adoption is now broadly accepted as beyond the tipping point; as it should be because the mandate is in now force. The presiding message was that if you’ve not yet started your journey towards the new way of working you are now at genuine risk of missing out on work, so now is the time to take BIM seriously because it’s no longer tomorrows challenge. It’s time to get to work.

Former Chief Government Construction Advisor, Paul Morrell OBE, was clear that he believes the BIM mandate has completed one of its primary goals in removing the questions about if BIM would happen, to allow the industry to really focus on how to do it best. Now the government are shifting their focus to making sure they keep up their end of the bargain. They are improving their practice as a client, whilst the UK BIM Alliance with support of the wider industry take over the lead on delivering Level 2 and the efficiencies highlighted in the Construction Strategy. This handover was typified by the exhibitors and the speakers; it all seemed very real with much of the smoke and mirrors of previous years no longer needed. Don’t take me wrong, I’m not declaring that the construction tech world have got their kit to Level 2 across the board. That’s clearly not the case and we need to keep working with the vendors, rather than complaining about them, to make sure we get the functionality we all need… but that is another blog for another day!

Chief amongst those delivering the reality was Rob Jackson and Nick Nisbet in their panel discussion on OpenBIM, telling the audience to use the standards even if they’re not perfect and pouring a hefty dose of cold water on those who are out in the market claiming to be delivering great data at Level 2 as standard. We were told that most of the data produced so far is junk, many are still chasing red herrings, and the focus still needs to shift from models to information despite this message being repeated consistently for a number of years. Combine this with David Philp, telling the crowd that nobody has delivered a Level 2 project yet, and others like Nick Tune & Pete Foster from coBuilder getting into the finer details of BIM beyond the tier 1, then the dose of reality on offer at DCW2016 was higher than your average BIM conference.

I’ll be back next year and I recommend you come along too and hopefully see for yourself this year’s realism translated into successful projects with great digital outcomes, and the discussion taking another step towards creating a truly digital construction sector.

161107 - Digital Construction Week.jpg
Niven & BIM Stategy