2016 – A great year for BIM in Ireland


In an interview with BIM consultant Ralph Montague from ArcDox, BIMIreland.ie discussed the progress made in relation to BIM in Ireland in 2016 and outlook for 2017.

“There has been significant progress made “behind the scenes” this year, at high level industry stakeholder level, in relation to the recognition of the importance of BIM, but also the challenges that need to be overcome for full adoption” says Ralph Montague.

The establishment of the National BIM Council of Ireland (NBC) was an important achievement, with key representatives from both government and private sector, who are discussing and seeking a consistent approach to BIM, that will drive benefits and improvements for all. A defined strategy for BIM in Ireland is expected from the NBC by Q2 in 2017.

The launch of the BIM Innovation Capability Programme (BICP) is providing important research to support the deliberation of the National BIM Council, looking at other global strategies, researching Ireland’s current capability in both industry and education, providing evidence based performance indicators from project case studies in Ireland.

There is now recognition of the importance of standards in BIM, with the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) setting up a national technical mirror committee, to monitor and comment on the work of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN TC 442) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO TC 59) in relation to developing BIM standards.

Ireland is now represented on the European BIM Task Group through the Office of Public Works (OPW), which aims to deliver a handbook for BIM for public procurement across Europe by 2017.

The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) are actively participating in the Architects Council of Europe (ACE) BIM working group.

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) of Ireland, which represents the 6 main construction industry professional institutes (ACEI, BMF, CIF, Engineers Ireland, RIAI & SCSI), have set up a dedicated BIM working group, to look at aligning the working stages for practice, with the emerging International and European Standards. Each of the professional institutes now also have a dedicated BIM task group or committee.

Of course, all the work around BIM in Ireland, has been underpinned by the efforts of the Construction IT Alliance (CitA), who provide a multidisciplinary network of professionals, training, events and content, that supports the adoption of BIM, as well as the excellent media coverage through BIMIreland.ie

The CitA BIM Innovation Awards 2016, which showcased the 14 shortlisted BIM project in Ireland, selected by a prestigious group of International judges, highlighted that BIM is now gaining serious traction amongst some of the top companies in Ireland, and demonstrated the quality of work being produced in Ireland.

As you can see, a lot has been achieved in 2016, but there is still a lot to do. There is an inevitability around the “digitisation of the construction industry” and adoption of technologies like BIM. The question of “why?” is already answered for most people, it is now a discussion on “how?” and “when?”. There are some major challenges for industry, such as developing or finding the skills, capacity and capability to work in these new ways. We need some strong Leadership, clear Policy, adoption of the international Standards, and Education that is more relevant to a digital future.

As we have seen in so many other industries, technology has a way of completely disrupting traditional or out-dated business models, and those who ignore these trends, often become the victims. It is important, that through all these groups that have now been established in Ireland, that we don’t duplicate effort, or pull in different directions, but that we take a pragmatic, efficient and consistent approach in the same direction.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to a discussion on BIM that goes beyond architects, engineers and constructors, to a broader recognition of how “Digital Data” for the Built Infrastructure of Ireland, can support more innovation and competitiveness in the industry, and support the future “Smart Cities” of Ireland. We know the benefits of a “digital” process, can result in better quality, better delivered, infrastructure (transport, housing, healthcare, education, tourism & leisure etc) and more effective use of our limited resources (people, time, money, materials, energy, water, etc) for a growing population. I think advanced analytics of digital data will begin to provide key information to support decision making for a “Smart Economy”. The future of BIM in Ireland is inspiring and exciting.

My recommendation for 2017 is to “join the journey” and don’t be left behind. Be connected to what is happening around BIM in Ireland, as part of Ireland’s premier multidisciplinary construction network, at the 2017 CitA events “Connecting YOU to Innovation”.

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