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Digital innovation: the rise of BIM software in UK construction

When it comes to digital project management, the UK is a world leader. 73% of UK construction professionals have now implemented BIM software into their programmes, marking a 60% uplift in a decade. But what’s driving the uptake of BIM technology?

Elecosoft has been looking closely at the rise of BIM software in the UK. Keep reading to learn:

  • What BIM software is
  • Why BIM adoption has increased sharply in the UK
  • The benefits of using BIM software
  • The future development of BIM software in the UK

What is BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modelling. It’s the process of turning building project data into a 3D or 4D model using digital software, bringing its design and construction process to life.

BIM software helps architects, contractors, engineers and project managers to work collaboratively from a shared digital platform. They can use it to model programmes, make strategic decisions and resolve issues. BIM captures information on everything from materials and equipment to construction order, project costs and environmental impact.

4D BIM is particularly useful for helping project stakeholders to gain a high-level overview of the construction sequence. While detailed schedules enable each trade to execute its element effectively, they are often highly complex. 4D BIM software visualises the construction of a building over time, showing how each element fits together to achieve the desired result.

Read more: 4D planning is extracting new value from BIM software.

Why has BIM software adoption increased in the UK?

BIM technology is more than just a useful tool for UK building companies; for many projects, it’s a regulatory requirement.

In 2011, the UK government outlined a construction strategy to reduce the cost of public building projects by 15-20%. This strategy mandated the use of 3D BIM software for all publicly funded construction projects by 2016, and outlined the introduction of two new BIM standards: BS 1192 and PAS 1192-2. Together, these two standards are recognised as industry best practices for BIM implementation.

BS 1192:2014 is a standard for the collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information. It provides a framework for managing and sharing information within a construction project using BIM. The standard covers the entire project lifecycle, from design to demolition, and includes guidance on the naming and numbering of files, version control and information management.

PAS 1192-2 is an information management specification for building projects using BIM. It provides guidance on the processes, procedures and information requirements for managing information during the design and construction phases. The specification covers the information that needs to be exchanged between different parties, and it also defines a common data environment (CDE) for managing and sharing project information.

In addition to the UK government’s construction strategy, an international standard for BIM known as ISO 19650 was introduced in 2018.

ISO 19650 consists of two parts: ISO 19650-1 and ISO 19650-2. The first part defines the concepts and principles of BIM. It sets out the requirements for building information management, including the roles and responsibilities of different parties involved in a construction project.

ISO 19650-2 provides guidance on implementation, for example, the processes and procedures for managing information throughout the lifecycle of a built asset. It also covers the creation, organisation and management of data using BIM, as well as the exchange of information between different parties involved in a construction project.

What are the benefits of using BIM?

Compliance aside, BIM software helps construction companies in the UK and beyond run projects more efficiently. Visualising programme information in a 3D or 4D planning model can help project stakeholders to:

  • Collaborate effectively: BIM software improves integration between architects, engineers, contractors and project managers as everyone works from the same digital platform. It also supports easy information exchange and allows stakeholders to model the impact of changes before making them.
  • Enhance project efficiency: BIM software helps building companies to increase planning accuracy, streamline workflows and reduce errors/reworks because every stakeholder is on the same page. 71% of BIM users say using the software has made them more productive.
  • Explore sustainability: BIM software helps construction companies to analyse processes and techniques to reduce waste and explore greener construction methods. 4D planning can also help to manage environmental factors such as energy consumption, water usage and material efficiency.
  • Increase transparency: UK BIM legislation is focused on making project execution more efficient. However, BIM software is an effective way to store programme information for long-term transparency and accountability. Cataloguing materials is particularly important for ensuring buildings remain legally compliant throughout their lifecycle. We’ve already seen the issues many property companies have encountered trying to identify which of their buildings have been impacted by changes to cladding regulations.

Read more: for safer cladding regulations to work, construction needs greater accountability.

What is the future of BIM in UK construction?

BIM regulations have already set new programme management standards for UK public building projects. But there’s still further scope for using BIM technology to improve construction methods.

In future, BIM software will help UK construction companies to implement techniques that make building projects more sustainable.

We’ve already seen a marked increase in the number of building companies exploring offsite planning and construction techniques. A good example of this is UK construction leader Willmott Dixon, which manufactured 50% of its award-winning Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building for the University of Warwick offsite. This decision lowered site deliveries by nearly 40%, reducing the build’s carbon footprint.

BIM 4D planning will help UK building companies model offsite manufacturing techniques and show their customers how it can increase sustainability and reduce the time and cost to build. Visualising alternative construction methods makes it easier to gain buy-in, helping the sector to innovate.

And going forward, the wealth of data being collected by BIM software will support intelligent sustainable design and execution choices – potentially made automatically. As Michael Bartyzel, Global BIM Lead at engineering company Buro Harrold notes, “within 10 years, I feel that some of the design will be automated. Programmes will be able to analyse the space and help with the coordination of items. We’re not there yet, but this is the way it is going.”

Experience the power of 4D planning with Asta Powerproject 4D

While 3D BIM software is a mandatory solution in public construction projects, there is value in using cutting-edge BIM software for every type of project. And upgrading from 3D modelling to 4D planning adds an extra dimension for improving collaboration and construction efficiency.

With these compelling benefits, your construction company may be ready to explore BIM software with 4D capabilities. Asta Powerproject by Elecosoft features Asta Powerproject 4D – an integrated module that adds 4D planning functionality to construction programme management in one application.

Asta Powerproject 4D is already being used by UK building companies like Galliford Try Plc to maintain excellent client communication and exemplary project control.

Start your free Asta Powerproject trial to explore the benefits of Asta Powerproject 4D.

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