BIM Symposium 2017 Sydney

Strategic Outcomes with BIM 03-08-2017 Sydney

This was one of the most interesting BIM seminars I have attended. There was no pedalling of BIM wash what so ever, the presenters were honest and up front with ideas and experiences. Even the not so good stories were aired and it appeared everyone had their guard down and in my opinion it is about time!

A full house of guests to listen to the speakers at this seminar, a number of the speakers were from government departments explaining their planned uptake of BIM and how they are preparing for the future as well as looking to prepare government to take a supporting role in the implementation of BIM rather than be the leaders in BIM implementation its self.

There was a common theme amongst all of the speakers in that they all saw a need for government involvement to set the scene but not necessarily lead the way in BIM uptake and use on projects, as industry already has that covered. It was interesting listening to what Andrew Curthoys had to say about the Brisbane BIM experience and how he is leading the Government slowly into the BIM world and it was clear that he understood how Government worked and appreciated the need not to go too hard too fast as SME’s could be punished and pushed aside as a result. It’s hard to believe that there are still a large section of the design community not yet BIM enabled, but it appears to be the case.

The who’s who of the BIM community in Australia were there and to name drop a few – Tom Fussell, Scott Beazley, John Mitchell, Bilal Succar, Paul Nunn, Stephan Langella, Antony MacPhee, Alex Leese, Dominic Holzer, Mark Cronin etc.

I went to lunch with Scott and Antony after the event finished about 12.30PM. The event went from about 8.30 in the morning with no break – it was serious business, and the moderator Richard Choy (CEO of Natspec) did a fabulous job managing the floor.

I had not met Antony before but have read his BIM blog posts and I wanted the opportunity to say hi and share a lunch on a sunny Sydney afternoon. He is a softly spoken guy with a logical and realistic comprehension of BIM and its use within the AEC industry. He has a solid technical aptitude which interested me a lot.

Alex’s presentation was one of the last of the afternoon and I did catch up with him before the event for a chat as we have common technical interests, interests which I’d like to pursue further to see what outcomes could come from computation design to manufacturing. He presented on the China aquatic centre and finished up on the Anna Meares velodrome. It’s what Alex says between the lines which is most interesting and I mentioned to Scott and Antony that he has the ability to develop complex workflows to deliver simple solutions with an understanding of the need to pare down complexity for the end user. His thought process, whilst unique in a way to the subject matter of his presentation, is something of a professional who takes the time to listen to the needs of others for not only the benefit of them but for himself and the project – simplifying the workflow.

In discussion with Scott and Antony I gained further insight into the world of design and academia and what may be perceived as a misalignment, if that’s the right word to use? Of what goes on in institutions compared to what actually is happening in practice. It would appear that technology may not be being leveraged as effectively as it should by many and our technical institutions and may be a little out of alignment with the direction the construction industry is heading with BIM? For instance, the coming to grips with the technical overlaps now possible in a digital construction world and developing workflow to leverage the possibilities as a result of these overlaps.  It was quite bizarre to learn that some old world practices are still being focussed on, such as hand drawn detailing, when modelling techniques if done right, can deliver so much more in terms of visualisation and accuracy and develop a working platform from which to build upon.

It’s quite clear to me and has been for many years that it’s time to move away from the paper space deliverable as the main point of focus for the design deliverable. It’s time that 3D models became the primary focus and the cross overs between each discipline were better understood. Our technical institutions need to pick up on this and review teaching practices to foster this way of thinking for the future?


Workshop Visit

I not only went to Sydney for this event but also took a trip to Newcastle (Kurri Kurri) to visit one of our Fabricator clients we are detailing a project for. This project is by no means the largest in time or scale we have ever undertaken, however technically it is very challenging. It is a road bridge made of two box girders 2200 deep, 1000 wide. The bridge curves in elevation and in plan, it has a road camber in it, making the inside of the bridge lower than the outside and to top it all off it has precambers introduced to counteract deflection.

Our approach of the set out of this bridge was not as we would any steel building, it took a lot of planning and the most significant part of the planning was taken up in trying to work out the fundamentals of the design set out its self as this wasn’t clearly evident on the design documents. Once this was understood we could then plan our methods for the set out of the bridge girders with a focus into how we would Detail the complex structure.

We decided to minimise as much as possible the output on the detail dwgs as there are no straight lines and no real point of reference. We spent more time in detailing the parts of the 4 sides of the girders, introducing as many cut outs as possible, lifting lugs as part of the plates which also act as lead in’s for butt welding and also added scribing to locate connecting parts. This meant all of the set out would be built into the plates and the boiler makers would have less to set out manually and as a result we hope less mistakes and a faster delivery of the steelwork.


The Project:

Our Integrated Construction models never look as attractive as those Artistic impressions like the image above as we have to account for the constructability of the structure. In the images below the deck beams have been separated from the main girders as they are not part of the cambering calculations built into the box girders.

The construction industry as a whole would do so much better if the digital design overlaps were better understood and the rules by which we all practiced were modified to better fit the modern age. We consistently see models being used to develop design documents but those models being seen more as a means to an end rather than forming part of the design deliverable itself. This really is a waste.

Models can better articulate design intent, when compared to the traditional 2D paper space deliverable, particularly when the design is complex. Much of the work which makes its way into 2D documentation can be redundant the minute ink hits the paper, so why does the industry still have such a high focus on this output?

I got the feeling from the seminar I attended in Sydney, that BIM maturity is now front of mind and in reality this was always going to take time as BIM workflows can be quite complex to develop.

I hope that government take their approach to BIM sensibly and foster the ‘uptake’ of BIM in the industry rather than try and lead the way in how it is implemented on projects. I also hope that seminars like this one continue to develop and the workflows for design to manufacturing in BIM mature as the overlap between disciplines is better understood, as this is what will deliver less errors on site and more cost effective buildings.