Blog: What the new government strategy to increase digital technology in key Public Works projects mean for your company.

23 Nov 2017

Sean Downey, Director, Specialist Contracting, explains what the new government requirement for BIM in the design, construction and operation of public works means for the industry.

Sean DowneyThis week the government launched a new strategy to increase the use of digital technology in the delivery of key public works projects that are funded through the public capital programme.

The strategy will see the phasing in of requirements around the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the design, construction and operation of public buildings and infrastructure over the next 4 years. This process will commence with the larger, more complex projects, where those operating at that scale are already working through BIM.

A BIM model provides a digital dataset of all the information associated with a project’s development from the early design stage through to its operation and the adoption of BIM has become a major focus within the modern construction industry.

Many other countries around the world have already established BIM requirements at a national level.

BIM has been very successfully used on a number of complex building projects completed in Ireland in recent years, primarily in the technology and pharmaceutical sectors.

BIM is also being used on the National Children’s Hospital at the St James’s Hospital campus, on the Dublin Institute of Technology’s Grangegorman Campus and across the Public Private Partnership programme.

At a European level, the significant efficiencies that BIM brings to project delivery and operation are widely recognised.

The 2014 Procurement Directive makes provision for its use and the European Commission has established the EU BIM Task Group to deliver a common European network aimed at aligning the use of BIM in public works.  The publication of the Task Group’s Handbook for the Introduction of BIM by Europe’s Public Sector Community at the end of June has also been timely in the context of this strategy.

This strategy has a two-fold objective, firstly to manage the adoption of BIM in an orderly fashion across the public capital programme, reducing the disruption that such change processes can bring both within the public sector and to the consultants and contractors that are engaged thereunder. The second objective is to act as a catalyst for its wider adoption across the industry generally.

The current period of growth in the construction sector is being viewed as an opportunity to introduce these requirements in a managed fashion, enabling the industry to adapt to the new processes and procedures that BIM requires.

While the CIF recognises the very significant challenges the new requirements will pose for members in terms of tendering for public works projects, we must look on this as a very positive step in the right direction in terms of making the Irish construction industry more competitive on a global scale, attracting FDI to Ireland and modernising the industry in general.

The CIF Construction 4.0 Committee has worked closely with the Department to establish a roadmap for these new requirements and will continue to engage with the wider membership to support companies in adopting and adapting technologies into the future.

To assist members in familiarising themselves with BIM terminology, the Construction 4.0 Committee has published the BIM Standards and Policies guidance document  which provides a technical glossary containing a plain English explanation of the typical BIM standards and information protocols generally found in use here in Ireland and other relevant jurisdictions. A second guidance document, Bidding for BIM, provides an experienced insight into how to make a commercial assessment at tender stage.

CIF are currently running a series of regional awareness briefings on BIM and digital technology. The first briefing was held in Cork on 10th November and the next one will take place in Galway on 12th January with further dates to be announced. In-depth training sessions on the new BIM requirements for public procurement will be delivered by CIF in 2018.

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