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Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Responding to construction industry needs to minimise costs and time of major projects

Research in the sector of Building Information Modelling (BIM) responds to the major shift in the construction industry to minimise the costs and time taken on major building projects. For the last five years, new government policy has meant that all public-funded projects in the UK are carried out with the Building Information Modelling (BIM) concept. The standardisation intends to make projects more cost effective, help shorten project times, reduce uncertainty, improve safety, work out problems, reduce waste, analyse potential impacts and improve bench marking.

The ideal is sound but the coming of BIM has created a need to ensure that guidelines are implemented and interpreted in a standardised way across the vast and complex building industry. LSBU's solution has been to set up its BIM Centre as a source of information and guidance on best practice to support projects and improve consistency.

An LSBU innovation

The BIM Centre is the brainchild of LSBU's senior lecturer Steve Pittard who, before joining the University two years ago, had worked in the building industry for over 30 years as both a chartered surveyor and IT specialist. Key to this new venture is the work he did some years ago, delivering IT solutions for construction industry users. "The centre's function," explains Steve, "is to provide a catalyst for innovation, something which people could use for networking, for ideas and to adopt BIM. At the moment, no two people see BIM in exactly the same way; different people have different definitions and this is a problem".

The centre was created in parallel with the formation of LSBU's BIM Academic Forum (BAF) that has the mission to create a dynamic collaborative group to enhance and promote teaching, learning and research aspects of BIM. As part of the leadership team for this group and through the activities of its new BIM Centre, LSBU believe they are in an ideal position to affect future employability – especially as work experience and real-life projects will be included in all courses. Already one of the LSBU's business sponsors, Laing O'Rourke, is employing LSBU postgraduate students as BIM engineers.

Featuring leading technology

The BIM concept virtually 'constructs' a project prior to any physical development. Through specialist software it generates and manages digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a planned project to create a shared knowledge resource. The information models are shared with many trades and professionals and sub-contractors from every trade can input critical information into the model before beginning construction, with opportunities to pre-fabricate or pre-assemble some systems off-site.

The centre has a lab with BIM software where the professionals can train on specialist software. It has an autodesk licence and there are two trainers to train the professionals in the software.

Bringing specialists together

There is a Built Environment focus of many of our applied science and engineering courses and the centre is very closely linked to our School of The Built Environment and Architecture. The centre influences course content with the interdisciplinary undergraduate module 'Architecture, planning and surveying'. It aims for all relevant undergraduates to become BIM-capable graduates, trained in the process and capable of challenging traditional practices to become seasoned problem solvers.

So far, the BIM Centre has been used for networking events and training opportunities for architects and quantity surveyors, providing a forum for experts to come together. It also offers members the opportunity to consult the university's specialist academics.

 
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