BIM People – Dr Claire Penny – IBM


Dr Claire Penny talks to about BIM in IBM, Implementing BIM, and the 2015 CitA BIM Gathering.

Dr Claire Penny is a World Wide Solution Leader in IBM’s Internet of Things (IoT) business unit, with a focus on Asset and Facility Management, Building Information Modelling (BIM) and IoT. Dr Peeny’s previous experiences include working extensively in IBM’s Real Estate division and leading a global team to deliver a Leaner Greener Integrated Supply Chain. This role encompassed teaming on an advanced statistical analytics energy project which delivered continuous condition based monitoring, and energy savings, at the physical asset level within buildings. Before joining the world of the paid workforce, Dr Penny attained a PhD from Liverpool John Moores University and an MSc attend from University College London.

Dr Penny is a regular public speaker and has written numerous articles related to the Internet of Things and Integrated Workplace Management Solutions.

When did your interest in BIM begin?

In early 2014 a colleague demonstrated to me how asset information stored in a 3D model can be integrated with our (IBM’s) Enterprise Asset Management solutions, and I was hooked! Early this year, I was able to make BIM a core part of my current role, so I’m currently really enjoying myself.

Could you tell us about IBM’s interest in Building Information Modelling?

Data, analytics, cloud, mobile, social, the Internet of Things – these are the business growth areas that IBM are focussing on. BIM fits perfectly into this picture.

Data in all its forms is expanding as a resource to be utilised. Yet—on so many fronts, and in so many industries and professions—the data explosion is outstripping the human capability to understand the meaning hidden within that data.

Within the context of a building lifecycle, huge volumes of data are generated, some of which is unstructured, and this volume of data is rising dramatically through BIM adoption. Now imagine the business process improvements, the new revenue streams that can be generated by analysing and acting on this data – this is why IBM is interested in BIM.

Does IBM see BIM as being critical to its work on smart cities? If so could you tell us more about what BIM offers smart cities? 

Yes! BIM assists in providing a clear and accurate digital representation of the buildings and other assets within a city, which is critical to ensuring that the IBM solutions, that help to manage incidents, and transportation systems, enable improved decisions on trusted data. IBM Smarter Cities link

What will be the main areas you will look to address at the Gathering?

The value of extending BIM beyond design and construction, into operate, maintain, reuse and decommission is going to be the main focus, but I will also discuss how the Internet of Things is linked to BIM.

How do you see BIM developing in Ireland in the next 10 years?

If you look at the current landscape in Ireland, there is a huge amount of positivity around BIM with forward thinking Engineering and Construction firms really embracing BIM as a company strategy. I believe that over the next 10 years we will see these companies driving BIM adoption across the entire lifecycle of the assets.

What are the key challenges witnessed to the adoption of BIM internationally?

Fear, willingness to collaborate and contracts.

Fear borne out of scare mongering (e.g. BIM costs more), lack of strategic vision, and the desire to continue to do things the way that they have always been done. The protection of IP and data are also areas highlighted as a cause for concern.

Willingness to collaborate is absolutely key to any BIM process, without collaboration between all stakeholders the fears highlighted could be borne out.

Contracts, and data ownership, are currently one of the biggest challenges which are slowly being addressed internationally.

What are the main topics at international conferences and forums, in the question sessions and among the attendees?

Who will ultimately own the model? The answer usually comes back as the client.

Will As-Built drawings still exist? The answer I have heard is NO! The model will be kept ‘alive’ via regular updates and will become the as-built source.

Level of Design (LOD) – always lots of questions on LOD! 

Will BIM affect the professions and their boundaries, and the traditional statuses of those professions?

BIM drives a better understanding of the requirements and challenges across all the stakeholders and professions, so I believe that this will drive better knowledge transfer, tolerance, better communication and greater collaboration.

Will BIM cross borders in terms of standardising the design / construction process?

Yes, I believe it will. The easy, manageable and secure flow of information from one discipline to the next is one of the keys to success. This is actually a really good topic for further discussion because you can refer back to the RIAI / RIBA process, which is a standardised and accepted process for ‘all’ buildings…but is it used for every project? For one off houses? No…..But for a vast estate of managed homes – absolutely….so ultimately BIM will occur to different extents in different projects….but all based around a unifying ‘standard’.

Do you think BIM will become a global standard for design and construction?

It depends on what we decide a ‘standard’ is. I would like to think that there would be a global OPEN standard for BIM, which, I believe, will help to garner future adoption and growth of BIM. This doesn’t mean, I don’t think, that we need further IS EN documents, or PAS documents of other ‘global’ standard ‘guidelines’ but that there is a global appreciation of the benefit of BIM to everyone in a facilities lifespan and that all real estate professionals will accept and embrace this and use the BIM process across all projects. We must not lose sight of the fact that BIM does not mean ‘3D Model’ – BIM is a process and can embrace use of 2D draughting so long as the information produced is embedded and communicated in some way to allow its management and flow throughout the facilities life.

Do you think BIM will have a significant impact on Green Construction and Lean Construction?

It already is! BIM is synonymous with Lean. When a company adopts a BIM strategy across its organisation, it is embracing LEAN. We see time and time again great, real life examples of how steps in process are eliminated and removed, how reworks are reduced, how clashes are detected prior to construction, how asset handover is delivered digitally and how operations and maintenance teams can identify problems that will impact the OPEX of the building at the design stage. Which in its simplest form, leads to Green Construction, because when there is less rework, less material is used and less waste generated. Through BIM construction projects can be delivered right first time.

Dr Penny will be a Keynote Speaker at the 2015 CITA BIM Gathering.


The contents of this site are subject to copyright laws and may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of the publishers. The views expressed in articles do not necessarily represent those of the publishers.

Comments are closed.