Levelling up with BIM

BIM implementation and what can be learned from the UK’s approach to the process.

The UK government realised early on that BIM levels promote collaborative working in the AEC industry.
The UK government realised early on that BIM levels promote collaborative working in the AEC industry.

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BIM is not a new concept in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.


In May 2011, the UK government released a futuristic construction strategy for a reduction in the cost of public sector assets.

This strategy mandated construction vendors applying for government tenders to achieve BIM Level 2 to be considered. The strategy also pushed for the phased roll-out of BIM Level 3 on all centrally-procured projects by 2016.

Further, now the UK authorities mandate builders and designers to use BIM in high-rise residential projects.

BIM is a collaborative system that helps industry professionals in designing, delivering and maintaining assets throughout the entire lifecycle.

A system to outline the characteristics of a building facility, BIM facilitates knowledge sharing among stakeholders from conception to demolition.

The UK government realised early on that BIM levels promote collaborative working in the AEC industry.

The progressive and recognisable milestones are defined as different levels based on the level of collaboration promised by these milestones.
These levels, ranging from 0 to 3 and beyond, are defined as follows:

Level 0 BIM
Level 0 means that the project promotes zero collaboration and makes use of paper-based 2D CAD drafting techniques.

The main goal is to generate production information in the form of paper or electronic prints. This is an obsolete level that is rarely used by industry professionals nowadays.

Level 1 BIM
Level 1 BIM involves using both 3D CAD and 2D drafting.

While 3D CAD is used for conceptual works, 2D is used for the generation of statutory approval documentation and production information. At this level, data sharing happens electronically using a common data environment (CDE) managed by the contractor. Also, the CAD standards are governed under British Standards (BS 1192:2007).

At this level, there is zero or low collaboration between the different stakeholders as everyone creates and manages their own data.

Level 2 BIM
Level 2 BIM is prescribed by the UK government for public sector projects.

This level promotes collaborative working by giving each of the stakeholders its own 3D CAD model.

Collaborative working is the distinguishing aspect of this level. Level 2 requires streamlined information exchange related to a project, and seamless co-ordination between all systems and the stakeholders.

All the parties work on their local 3D CAD models and information is exchanged through a common file format. Such a system allows organizations to combine external data with their own model to create a federated BIM Model.

Level 3 BIM
Often termed as ‘Open BIM’ the scope of Level 3 hasn’t been completely defined, though it promises deeper collaboration between all stakeholders through a shared model stored in a central repository.

Level 3 concept enables all the participants to work on the same model simultaneously, which eliminates the chance of conflicting information.

Level 3 proposes the use of an integrated solution built around open standards like IFC, where a single server stores all the project data.

Though this level is slowly picking up pace, many firms in the UK are still thinking of transitioning from Level 2 to Level 3.

BIM Levels & Existing Industry Ecosystem
The UK’s Digital Built Britain Strategy talks highly of using Level 3 BIM for the future.

Though there is a strong push by the government, the industry is slow to adapt to Level 3 BIM, which is in the preliminary stages. The strategy defines four phases for successful adoption of Level 3 BIM, which includes:

•Level 3A: Improving the existing Level 2 model.
•Level 3B: Allowing new technologies and systems.
•Level 3C: Enabling development of fresh
business models.
•Level 3D: Capitalising the global authority in BIM sphere.

The Digital Built Britain Strategy is setting solid ground for the adoption of Level 3 and beyond in line with the government’s construction strategies, like the Business & Professional Services Strategy 22, the Smart Cities Strategy 23, the Information Economy Strategy 24, and Industrial Strategy – Construction 2025.

Similar to the recent mandates in favour of BIM by the UK government, fresh measures will pave the perfect adoption path towards greater levels.

Also, the private sector is looking to propagate the collaborative work theory which will eventually impact the public AEC industry, too.

The transition will be similar to the transition from paper-based models to CAD during the 1990s.

Vijay Siresiya is a senior sales and marketing specialist for United-BIM Inc.

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