Construction BIM Coordination – The New Kid On The Block

BIM is now fast becoming the norm in Australia for new buildings and infrastructure projects over the value of $40 million dollars.

By Nathan Dale, Director – Point Advisory

BIM is now fast becoming the norm in Australia for new buildings and infrastructure projects over the value of $40 million dollars.

As part of this new trend, we are also seeing a change in the way these construction projects are contracted and managed from a BIM perspective. This is especially true for the head contractor’s whose job it is to manage the project from design to final completion.

Traditionally, the lead BIM role has been centralised around an “all-knowing and all-seeing” BIM manager providing a turn-key solution for the project. Larger contractors (Tier 1) would normally have their own ih house BIM manager to manage their requirements, whereas smaller contractors (Tier 2 & 3) would often need to outsource this role to a specialist BIM service provider.

Whilst this approach has worked well in the past, the challenge facing the industry is that BIM is becoming widespread and even more complex, as asset owners are starting to understand the potential benefits (and risks) of using a BIM-centric workflow for their next project.

On a typical construction project, there are several key stakeholders involved, often with different level of BIM expertise. These include the asset owner, head contractor, architect, consultants and sub-contractors, who are all jostling to define (and protect) their own roles and responsibilities in relation to BIM.

Traditional in-house BIM managers (including external service providers) now have trouble keeping up with the ever growing day to day requirements of each individual project as BIM becomes the industry norm. Their role is quickly morphing from a technical one into a more complex project management and data coordination role.

This additional workload is then being further magnified by several other related factors such as:

  • a shortage of experienced BIM managers in the market,
  • new and emerging 4D and 5D BIM requirements,
  • additional data requirements for facility managers, and
  • more complex BIM briefs being tendered by more ambitious asset owners.

Enter the new kid on the block, the external ‘Construction BIM Coordinator’ (CBC).

As opposed to a BIM Manager whose time is best spent focusing on the high value tasks, such as setting the rules (BIM Plan), playing the gatekeeper and monitoring overall progress on the project, the construction BIM coordinator’s role is simply to execute the plan as defined by the BIM manager. This includes tasks such as: managing the federated BIM model centrally, coordinating with the various stakeholders day to day and independently running the clash detection process every 1-2 weeks on behalf of the head contractor.

By externalising this role away from the traditional project team the BIM coordination role remains independent at all times which creates a consistent reporting mechanism for all stakeholders to benchmark against. This is particularly valuable for the head contractor and adds a new level of assurance, thereby reducing overall project risk.

Under this new split-role approach both the BIM Manager and BIM Coordinator report to the Project Manager, often working closely onsite with the Design Manager. On larger projects (in excess of $100m) the contractors BIM team may consist of up to 3-5 people who can be involved in the project for up to 2 years.

By keeping the core BIM activities in-house (management) and outsourcing the non-core activities (coordination), up to 80% of the day to day BIM workload on a construction project can be externalised and, if done efficiently, substantial savings can also be made.

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Point Advisory provides a wide range of services including ‘BIM coordination’ and ‘BIM Overflow’ for the building and construction industry.