Seamless platform to boost projects
As the Australian government makes a $110 billion infrastructure commitment, building information modelling is shaping up as the key to unlocking the full potential of the nation’s construction capabilities.
The 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan is set to drive a step change in industry productivity and innovation. The goal is to build a highly productive, efficient, effective and confident infrastructure industry, which can sustainably respond to government objectives and vision with capability, capacity and resources.
A 15-year roadmap for Australian infrastructure reform, the plan is also designed to spur the national economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on investing in transformative technology to deliver affordable and sustainable infrastructure services.
Australia’s infrastructure industry currently performs poorly compared with other industry sectors, when measured for efficiency, productivity, innovation, digitalisation, sustainability, industrialisation and value for money. The plan proposes to embed a culture of innovation in the infrastructure sector by adopting an evidence-based digital by default approach to infrastructure planning, delivery and operations.
The adoption of building information modelling (BIM) will underpin this transformation. Traditionally, a wealth of valuable data is lost through an infrastructure project’s life cycle. BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that covers the entire life cycle of a project – from the planning, design and construction phases through to infrastructure management and eventual decommissioning.
More than a technology, BIM is a methodology that enhances collaboration, improves productivity and reduces construction times, while minimising errors and waste.
The engineering and construction sector is one of the world’s least digitalised, according to McKinsey. Traditional information management is often paper-based, incomplete and siloed. Partners also often fail to fully hand over valuable project information to the next round of stakeholders, such as facilities management.
While the infrastructure plan will accelerate the uptake of BIM, Australia has not followed the lead of Britain in mandating BIM adoption to win public sector construction contracts.
Currently, Britain demands BIM Level 2 compliance from bidders for public sector contracts – with collaboration between teams, data sharing and adherence to BIM processes. BIM Level 3 compliance is set to require complete and total collaboration in the planning, construction and operational life cycle of any built asset. The information must be shared, collected and stored using a single source of data.
While the Australian government is not introducing a British-style BIM mandate, local industry players that fail to adopt BIM will soon struggle to compete, says Vlad Milicevic, director of APAC region at Revizto, an integrated collaboration platform designed to democratise the BIM co-ordination process through exceptional user friendliness and complete integration of 2D and 3D information.
‘‘BIM is set to become such a core tenet of project delivery that, regardless of how large your business is, if you’re not capable of delivering projects in a BIM framework within five to 10 years, then you’ll be very much behind the eightball,’’ Milicevic says.
‘‘For businesses to start reaping rewards from the BIM methodology, they need to move forward and invest in it now, rather than putting it off – which will only hurt them in the long term.’’
Revizto is cloud-based visual collaboration software for contractors, engineers, architects and owners/developers. It allows the entire project to be accessed in both 2D and navigable 3D environments.
Traditional reasons for the slow adoption of technology within the construction sector include the lack of industry guidelines, complex solutions, long onboarding processes and general resistance to change, Milicevic says. Finding good digital engineering talent and BIM managers is also a challenge, with some businesses opting to train people up from within.
A further challenge with cloud environments can be where project data are hosted, which is why client data in Revizto are hosted in Australia and never leave Australian shores.
‘‘Innovative technologies and their adoption are highly linked to the increase of productivity in our industry,’’ Milicevic says. ‘‘The government, construction businesses and technology providers all need to work together to bring the industry forward, rather than lagging behind on digitisation.
‘‘The future is digital by default and there’s an important education piece here, so we’re driving those conversations from our side around what BIM brings to the table.’’
Even when businesses do adopt the technology, some people in the industry make the mistake of assuming that BIM only needs to be applied by their technology people back at the office.
‘‘Some people think that the business can adopt BIM but, out on site, they can continue to do things the way they’ve always done them – like carrying around paper plans or shuffling files around via email,’’ Milicevic says.
‘‘To reap the full benefits of BIM, everyone on a project needs to adopt and deploy BIM methodologies and technologies, regardless of whether they are in the head office, site office or out on site.