How ‘BIM’ is Revolutionising the Construction Industry (Part 2 of 3)

Posted by MDA Projects on Friday, July 29, 2016 with 4 comments

A South African and African context

Building information modelling has taken giant steps in a relatively short space of time. Its global growth and adoption rate has been massive. In South Africa the overwhelmingly positive benefits of BIM are driven by consulting engineering and project management companies like WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Consulting Engineers and MDA Projects pushing beyond merely producing ‘pretty pictures’.

In some countries such as the United Kingdom, BIM has been legislated. South Africa is not yet at the same level but usage is rapidly growing as the benefits of BIM for larger projects become apparent.

Towards a South African package with national benefit

5D BIM is not yet utilised in South Africa. This is because the digital costing process is not in line with South African quantity surveying processes (Standard Systems of Measurement and Standard Bill of Quantities among others). Herein lies an opportunity for quantity surveyors to step in. In fact, MDA Projects is currently in dialogue with quantity surveyors so that South Africa can potentially put its own stamp on the process through a proudly South African package that will have national benefit.

Beyond day-to-day information systems

The ability to effectively integrate the various built environment disciplines such as electrical, mechanical, fire, water and sewerage will set companies apart. MDA Projects is on a drive to undertake the majority of its larger built environment projects using BIM, in order to go beyond day-to-day information systems. Currently operating predominantly at a 4D level, they have set their sights firmly on incorporating the entire BIM range of services.

From a project management perspective BIM process implementation is not without its challenges. With many contractors and suppliers in South Africa having little or no opportunity to work with BIM, facilitating the interphase between the design team and contractors is tricky. Granted, information flow and contractual arrangements related to this element of the construction process are easily documented. However, it takes a high level of cooperation and skill to manage the process effectively.

Can BIM work in an African context?

Africa does not have the convenience of readily available material suppliers or specialised contractors. To overcome these challenges, detailed project planning becomes a critical precursor to project success. Much like a Meccano set, a key benefit of BIM is that regardless of resources required, equipment and necessary materials can be:
  • Predetermined with a high degree of accuracy
  • If required can be premanufactured / preassembled 
4D simulation enables the project management team to find the best possible design methodology. It also ensures that resources are allocated with a higher degree of accuracy.

Through the BIM process materials and equipment can be manufactured in South Africa or another African country that has the capability and capacity to do so. Similarly, modular systems can be prepared off site, in a controlled factory-type environment. In this instance, the delivery sequence is then synchronised within the BIM programme to ensure that everything is transported when and where required.

By simply starting the design process earlier, pre-manufactured items can be shipped or transported ahead of time. This is particularly prudent when building on an island or at a remote location.

Positive socio-economic outcomes

With the application of simplified construction methods (modular systems) unskilled and unemployed local community members can be trained and employed within the assembly component of the construction process, without compromising the quality of the end product. Translated, this means that BIM potentially has a far-reaching positive impact not just for the construction industry but for African communities too by creating semi-skilled opportunities for people previously not utilised in the construction industry.

Part 1 of 3
Part 3 of 3