Interview: David Philp explains the new Scottish BIM Delivery Group

The Scottish Government has set the construction industry in Scotland the challenge of adopting BIM level 2 by April 2017, one year after a similar deadline in England. AECOM's David Philp is leading the new Scottish BIM Delivery Group, set up to support this objective. He explains the challenge ahead.

David Philp Scottish BIM Development Group

Interview by Antony Oliver

What is the purpose of the new Scottish BIM delivery group?

The purpose of the Scottish BIM Delivery Group (BIM DG) is to support the Scottish Government in meeting its objectives for a move towards a digital built environment, with BIM featuring as a key part for the future of the Scottish construction industry. This is in response to the recommendations made in the Review of Scottish Public Sector Procurement In Construction. The implementation of the recommendations is being conducted on behalf of the Scottish Government by a collaborative team, comprising of the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust. The BIM DG, has as its remit to lead, manage, co-ordinate and deliver the BIM implementation plan on a day-to-day basis. The group will also co-ordinate the liaison with, feedback from and engage with the other BIM groups.

How will the Scottish BIM Industry Forum operate to assist?

The BIM Industry Forum (BIM I.F.) is a council made up of the various communities who are supporting the BIM Delivery Group.The BIM I.F. will provide a platform to meet with and manage the relationship between the various industry groups and the BIM Delivery Group. This I.F. forum will be tasked with providing feedback and raising potential issues which might affect the implementation of the Scottish BIM strategy and impact upon its objectives.

Why does Scotland need a separate forum and plan?

The Scottish BIM strategy and its implementation plan is in direct response to the recommendations of the Review of Public Sector Procurement in Construction.   We must devise a strategy that is appropriate for the Scottish marketplace and is aligned with the ambitions of the Scottish Government. The program will draw on a number of influences and existing work in order to meet the needs of the Scottish Industry.

Is Scotland ahead or trailing the rest of the UK?

Scotland is not trailing either the rest of the UK or Europe.  It is important that implementation of BIM is taken forward at a pace which is appropriate to Scotland and the needs of the industry and its clients. We have already met with several members of the Scottish supply chain who are delivering ambitious BIM projects. Likewise early adopter clients such as the National Health Service (NHS) Scotland are already on their Level 2 journey and have created a suite of documents such as Employers Information Requirement templates and have undertaken BIM training across the country.

You talk about the need to deliver Scotland’s 2017 BIM mandate – what will this involve?

The recommendation endorsed by Scottish Ministers was that public sector projects where appropriate should adopt BIM level 2 by April 2017. When deciding if a project is appropriate for BIM adoption, procuring authorities should consider multiple criteria including value of project, data requirements and return on investment. To address this, the BIM Delivery Group will develop a BIM decision matrix which procuring authorities will utilise to understand if their project would benefit from the the use of BIM. This decision matrix will be included within the Scottish Construction Procurement manual which relevant procuring authorities are obliged to consider and apply within their procurement.

How will this work link to the Scottish Futures Trust’s efficiency agenda?

The implementation of BIM is part of the Scottish Government’s broader goal - to harness the power of public spending to help ensure a sustainable Scottish economy which will create and support jobs as well as providing the infrastructure which will keep Scotland working for generations to come. The Scottish Futures Trust’s supporting role is described by its mission statement: ‘to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure investment and use in Scotland by working collaboratively with public bodies and industry, leading to better value for money and improved public services’. Innovation, collaboration and being outcome focused are key elements of our agenda and we are investigating how the BIM program will support and enhance this, especially through asset information which is accessible and shareable.

What will Scotland’s BIM implementation plan look like?

The BIM implementation plan will go through a series of defined horizon stages to support the Scottish public sector in their adoption of BIM Level 2. This will include pilot projects where we can test certain strands of the strategy, or specific information exchanges, before we refine and publish our final guidance.

How will it differ from the current UK model?

The Scottish BIM programme will draw on influences from a wide range of sources including the UK Government BIM strategy but importantly it will be a solution for Scotland developed in the context of Scottish Government Policy and the Scottish market place.

Will there be any substantial differences to Level 2 BIM in Scotland?

As set out above, the Scottish BIM programme will draw on a number of influences which will be the same or similar to those existing elsewhere but importantly will be designed to be appropriate for Scotland. This will include unique guidance and supporting documentation which will help the Scottish public sector to adopt BIM Level 2 where appropriate. Unique to Scotland will be a supplementary guidance document to support public sector organisations adopt BIM Level 2 and the existing Level 2 suite of documents.

What happens next?

We are getting ready for a formal launch event in early October. By then, our first horizon will have been reached and we can publish the programme and its core objectives to the industry. In the meantime, we are facilitating a series of launch workshops with our working groups and determining the  BIM capability and capacity within the Scottish public sector.

How can the industry get involved?

We would encourage industry to engage with us and get involved as soon as possible, so it is ready for the programme’s implementation. The best reason to introduce BIM is the benefits it will offer in terms of productivity and better, more collaborative working practices Secondly, there will be opportunities for industry to get involved through the Building Information Modelling (BIM) Supplier Group Scotland (BIM SGS) which will be a forum of supply side organisations, institutes and other bodies. The BIM SGS will provide a vehicle for the Scottish BIM Delivery Group to deliver updates on progress and information on a regular basis. Forum members will be tasked with providing feedback, disseminating information through their respective organisations and acting as a communication platform to the Scottish supply chain. The BIM SGS is a collaboration of specialist interest groups who will champion the Scottish BIM strategy in their respective specialist areas and communities. Their purpose is to raise awareness of the BIM strategy, promote a shared understanding of its benefits and to raise potential issues which affect the implementation of the BIM strategy in their respective areas of interest. This is an exciting time for the construction industry and its clients in Scotland and the digitisation of our built environment will ultimately help re-shape the industry for the better, and will help attract new entrants into a more innovative and advanced virtualised sector.

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Lest we forget, BIM is no magic pill! What we do with the Information, how we manage it, how we utilise it and finally how we benefit during the Operational phase is key to the success of the end to end approach Start with the end in mind and realise the Operational efficiencies through Energy and Co2 reduction throughout the project life