The last year has been a positive one for Solibri in the UK with good growth in both existing customers and new customers across all of the AECO industry. It is an interesting time at the moment as Brexit is on the horizon, the fallout from the Carillion debacle continues, and yet at the same time the industry continues on its path towards digitalisation and is starting to wake up to the fact that the digital models, both geometry and data, have to have some quality assurance and quality control processes in place. What good is data intended for future use if it hasn’t been validated and is incorrect?
The UK construction industry has moved forward, albeit slowly since the Government mandate, a school report would probably give 6 out of 10, some progress but can and should do much better! While there are an increasing number of examplar case studies, you don’t need to dig far below the surface to find the majority of projects still suffer from the same old failings. While the current culture prevails, progress will continue to be hampered. Many clients revert to cheapest bid tenders rather than looking at the bigger picture and are still focused on the capex rather than the long-term gains of cost savings during the opex phase. Current contractual arrangements also mean there is still an unwillingness to collaborate openly, and the sooner IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) type contracts become common place the better, shared risk and shared gain with successful projects encourages that shift in culture that is required for BIM to become common place.
There is still a lot to be learned with the use of IFC, and more recently COBie, in the UK, those expecting a magic button to create perfect outputs are always disappointed to find out that is not the case. While the bad press of 4 or 5 years ago for IFC is now a thing of the past, there is still a lot of misunderstanding of IFC, and people expecting to be able to round trip between different software solutions are also disappointed. While not yet perfect, IFC workflows do work if the understanding is there, it is simply a structured dataset, the factors affecting this are as follows:
1 The quality of the authored model – many
companies don’t employ any modelling
standards at all; short cuts are taken to
ensure the drawing looks correct without
any thought as to what the model may be
used for further down the line. Data is
often not standardised and is often in
different places on different items.
2 The implementation of the export – this
is down to the software developer of
course, only pressure from the users will
speed up this development. Fortunately,
we are seeing that most of the export tools
3 Settings when exporting – again we often
see people not understanding what should
be exported and how, especially when
COBie data is involved. Steel fabrication
models, for example, often include all
the bolts, this is not always needed and will
substantially increase the size of the IFC
and slow down those utilising that information.
4 Quality of the import – as with the
export, how well an IFC is read, interpreted
and displayed is also a factor and again
this one is down to the software developers.
If this is understood and there is a willingness and drive to get involved in open workflows, then IFC can and does work, we see it being used successfully more and more across the UK. Fortunately, a growing number of projects also mandate the use of IFC, which is moving the industry forward too, and the acceptance that you have to be able to use the solution you choose and the best tool for the job.
The more projects that are delivered using BIM means there is of course more call for tools such as Solibri Model Checker to assure the quality of the information being generated. Without that quality control process in place you are introducing more risk. Without validated data you may as well take a guess.
Fortunately for us, more companies are realising this and the hard work we have put in to get this message across to the industry and deliver the solutions they need to improve these processes resulted in Solibri receiving recognition from the construction industry when we won Product of the Year in the 2017 Construction Computing Awards. This award shows the progress being made not only by Solibri but also by the industry too as they strive to introduce quality.