International BIM education

Efforts to extend use of building information modelling are in progress around the world. Vaughan Harris targets a BIM e-book at Africa, while France’s HEXABIM pushes webinars.

Various governments are endorsing the use of BIM with their respective industries then seeking to develop the necessary skills, processes, standards and technologies. January 2019 has also seen publication of the first two parts of a new international standard, ISO 19650, founded on British standard BS 1192 and publicly available specification PAS 1192-2 (see BIMplus news). This week I also got news of two efforts to expand knowledge and understanding of BIM.

BIM in South Africa

BIM It's your moveVaughan Harris of the BIM Institute in Cape Town, South Africa, has been evangelising about construction digitisation for some years, and has written a free e-book entitled “BIM: It’s Your Move!” (downloadable here).

For those on other continents who think that industry fragmentation, skills shortages, low margins, silo mentalities and under-investment in IT are peculiar to their particular markets, Harris says this is common to many African markets too. The book is a personal collection of articles, interviews and essays, with one of the most interesting summarising a survey of African construction business leaders.

The survey found strong industry recognition of the need to improve workflow efficiency and document management, but only 55% of respondents sought information on BIM, “while 35% had never heard of it”. Harris says the African continent lags far behind the first world, robbing African asset owners of the opportunities to capitalise on digital construction opportunities, and preventing construction professionals from increasing their own profits through digitisation. Apparently, Ethiopia is the only African country adopting BIM through its government ministries.

Harris has drawn heavily upon the UK experience in raising awareness and then developing the necessary processes, structures and skills to use the supporting technologies, including common data environments (CDEs). He underlines that BIM has impacts beyond the design and construction processes, helping owners and others make better use of their built assets and associated data.

There are also pages of advice about how individuals and organisations might move forward with BIM – informed by Harris’s knowledge of African construction businesses and industry attitudes and behaviours. For example, he is critical of the role of in-house IT departments:

“In a continent of volatile internet connectivity and spotty IT literacy, IT departments regularly wield too much power over the control and management of work processes. This disproportionately affects the bigger construction companies in South Africa. It results in slow technological innovations in our local industry where processes such as BIM lag terribly.”

Harris is clearly passionate about the need for African construction to digitise, but also pragmatic about how individuals, businesses and industry organisations need to change. Particularly for those in Africa looking for localised information and advice – his Institute launched its NAVBIM platform in November 2018 (post) – this is a good read.

HEXABIM and biminar

Hexabim logoIn France, HEXABIM has been providing an online resource about BIM for some years (with content in both French and English). An independent digital platform specialising in BIM and digital transition, it claims a professional network of over 8000 members, and had some two million page views in 2018.

Biminar screencapHEXABIM’s Mohamed Khettab is now extending the offering with a new service called biminar. This has been created “to meet the growing and urgent global demand for high-quality online BIM education and knowledge-sharing.” Essentially, it offers a platform for content providers (BIM technology providers and services businesses, for example) to record webinars for online delivery.

Conventional face-to-face events can be expensive and time-consuming to attend, so webinars have emerged as a popular way for publishers and event organisers to engage with audiences, with interactive chat or Q&A tools to respond to particular information needs. The biminar service also suggests webinar content might also be converted to form an e-book or article(s) – further extending the reach of a provider’s material.

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    • Jenni McCann on 1 February 2019 at 11:51 am

    Just got my copy of the book. Looks like a good read.

  1. Thanks for your helpful inputs.
    While BIM is still being seen as a good opportunity and being explore by ‘Mega’ Engineering Companies; it’s still a dream for small companies and consultants because of the economic reasons (Investments required in Software and Hardware etc.)
    I would like to learn more on what efforts are being made for making Softwre (BIM) and required Hardware affoardable even for small players.
    I think BIM will be successful only when it will be accepted by all stakeholders (or is that my understanding is incorrect?)
    Pls. advise.
    Thanks and Best Regards
    Avinash Vasant Dorle

    1. Hi Avinash
      It is not just the initial cost of the software and hardware. There will also be human costs relating to training and the reworking of existing industry processes (procurement, etc) to accommodate BIM.

      However, for many businesses, the long-term impacts of BIM could be beneficial – with process and productivity improvements that more than offset the costs of new software/hardware and associated training, etc. It will be a more extensive change than was seen in the 1990s when many AEC businesses switched from manual drafting to CAD, but there are UK design and construction firms which are now 100% BIM and are realising the benefits of greater information efficiency and better integration with other project partners.

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