The above paper has shown the relative non-existence of any true BIM process in Ireland. The lack of existing or current BIM practitioners and knowledge of BIM in the Irish construction industry has pointed toward the need for significant further research to take place. The lack of any concrete information on BIM an Irish context also leads toward the same conclusion. This paper is a significant first exploratory stage in the research process. It has identified many areas which, with further research could prove hugely transformative to the Irish construction Industry. Chief among these being the implementation or feasibility of changing our traditional procurement process and or project delivery methods.
There is without doubt, over the coming years, when BIM has been used even in a fragmented manner, a large volume of research which could be carried out into integrated project delivery using BIM. The use of BIM in conjunction with lean construction methods can also be further explored. As BIM is only in its infancy, the evidence based research is not fully possible yet. Experience and outcomes are simply not available. The further stages of research will need to be done in significantly frequent intervals as BIM maturity levels increase and BIM permeates the Irish market. The industry needs to move away from the current fragmented project delivery method which has been proved to be so inefficient and risky in the past. The number of contractors going into liquidation is frightening.
It is clear that BIM and 4D scheduling has dramatic potential benefits to all stakeholders involved in the construction industry. If it is to become a reality and used widely in Ireland, it must be driven by the client or owner of the project and there must be a buy in to the process from all.
Its implementation is not without its considerable challenges. Primarily this is the initial investment required during the worst recession the building industry in Ireland has ever experienced. Hardware, software and education costs will make this slow. Many of the private foreign direct investment multinationals are starting to expect this process to be available to them. However, without Governmental support, BIM is unlikely to become the norm in the near future. BIM is a process which requires collaboration. Unfortunately, current government contracts are adversarial and thus BIM cannot be a worthwhile process under those circumstances.
This does not mean that private construction clients should not drive its implementation. I would, however, suggest that it be done in a phased manner. This would allow SME’s an opportunity to invest over a longer period.
There is always the danger that only those currently able to afford the investment will be able to tender for work should its requirement become mandatory on many projects in too short a timescale. There is also a danger that larger supplier’s products will be specified by designers simply because they have a BIM database of these products and not because they are the most cost effective or relevant to the project. This could lead to poor value for money.
Currently, it is hard to justify the use of full BIM on smaller scale projects. This is not because BIM is not more efficient, it is because the level of analysis required on smaller projects is often not as great. This would not mean that much of the BIM process could not be utilised. The level of expertise to use full BIM would require a certain physical number of people who were able to carry out the different tasks. In some instances, the physical numbers allocated to smaller projects would make this impossible. Particularly for smaller contractor or designers who do not have infinite numbers of experts.
BIM as a construction management training and education tool is a very positive advancement. Colleges and Universities should consider using it to give their students virtual problems which can help their understanding and give them some of the experiences they can currently only learn onsite.
Some of the technologies can also help decrease the time spent doing time consuming low intellectual works, freeing up time for more complex areas of learning or work. This applies to both work and education.
It is also imperative that the surveying professions and their representative bodies investigate on how best to facilitate the use of BIM as a means of taking of quantities. This may mean producing a new standard method of measurement which will allow Irish companies use the most up to date software available from around the world.
Both contractors and designers alike should further investigate the use of BIM as a safety tool. In collaboration they could utilise the analysis of dynamic structures. Contractors could use rule based systems to ensure safety systems are in place at the right time and in relation to the progress of a project.
The Irish construction industry at large should consider following the lead of many other countries in drafting a constructability assessment protocol. This is not exclusive to BIM use but as general good practice.
Automated progress tracking can also help increase quality in the industry but also be used as an early warning system for poor progress and poor quality. Whilst clash detection can be used to eliminate design mistakes prior to construction and save considerable money from change orders, automated progress tracking can highlight mistakes on an ongoing basis during construction. The earlier a mistake is found the earlier it can be rectified and stopped from occurring again.
It is important to note that there are considerable challenges to the easy implementation of BIM. With collaboration of design and construction, so too comes the collaborative nature of design responsibility. Legally, there are many unanswered questions.
Finally, future research should look at BIM form a facilities management perspective. This will allow virtual safety and operations and maintenance manuals. Simply by clicking on an item of plant, equipment, furniture in the 3D model, embedded data could show where it was purchased, data sheets about it, when when it was lasts serviced etc. Also, if a building is facility was to be extended, so to could the model.


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