Some thoughts on the RICS BIM conference

Last week I attended the annual RICS BIM conference, in London. I remember just a few years ago (maybe 5 or 6?), that the event had to be postponed due to lack of registrations. The following year, the venue was changed at the last moment as the industry had woken up to this being a reality. Ever since, the conference, in my opinion, has become stronger, and is now attended by a large audience from the QS, BS, architectural and contracting professions (in addition to academics such as myself.

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The three main things I came away with this year were the huge amount of written guidance material now available, the depth of the practical demonstrations, and the ways in which the exhibition has really come into it’s own.

Regarding the publications of the BIM Task Group and the various BS and PAS documents (now covering information management at the capital/delivery and operational phases and collaborative production of information), it is clear that demands from the industry to ensure that there is an ability to have cross-industry information standards is getting closer. In the same week, warnings of an ‘internet dark age’ allude to the the dangers of not continuing to use BIM models post-construction. Use it or lose it. As I have said before, BIM is not for Christmas, it’s for life.

At many previous BIM events, I have been struck by the manner in which the QS in the audience has been reassured that they can use models to extract quantities (often through the use of either REVIT or free viewers such as Solibri). The excellent live demonstrations by Trevor Woods and Cathy Molloy really brought home how the QS can really use the software side of BIM to powerful effect, particularly with regards to understanding and visualising aspects of cost planning. It was also clear that the use of BIM in a cross-discipline manner might allow us to actually realise the core strengths of each participant (finally!). It was also clear that BIM doesn’t in any way pose a threat to any of the disciplines, as our real strengths lie in professional knowledge and judgement. What it could do, perhaps, is remove the more repetitive and mundane aspects of our professional lives.

My final observation was that quite a few of the presentations as well as the exhibition dealt with emerging visualisation techniques, including laser scanning and photogrammetry. Although presenters used the term ‘Scan to BIM’ as if it were an established process, the need for easier workflows will hopefully lead to software development in the coming year or two. Certainly, recent improvements in the ability of Autodesk software to deal with point cloud data, or to support http://www.123dapp.com, gives hope.

An excellent conference.

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