In a series of articles, Rebecca De Cicco of Digital Node and Women in BIM discusses the level of BIM adoption on a global scale, starting with Australia

At Digital Node, we like to take a pragmatic approach when it comes to figuring out how to measure different approaches to BIM in different countries and the results these achieve.

In the September / October edition of AEC Magazine, I explored the impact of technology and BIM implementation primarily in the UK and considered how we need to address skills gaps to effectively enable the industry to grow.

It’s time now to look a little further afield and understand the level of adoption elsewhere. So over the next few issues, I’ll be looking at a selection of countries, examining their approach to BIM adoption. And in this issue, I’ll be starting with Australia.

Aussie rules BIM

In Australia, it’s fair to say that levels of BIM adoption are varied and disjointed. There is no consistent approach to a measurement or level of maturity, and this has driven both public and private sector clients to look to the UK for support and guidance regarding processes.

We have seen a range of industry documentation that focuses on the way maturity can be measured, but this simply adds a layer of confusion when there is no push from government for firms to comply.

We are also seeing that standards, such as PAS1192-2 for example, are being used as a basis for adoption by some public sector clients. But, at the same time, the understanding of maturity (for example, BIM Level 2) is inconsistent. The private sector, meanwhile, tends to implement BIM solutions on a project-by-project basis with no real consistency or clearly defined approach.

There are, however, some notable exceptions: some private sector clients are adopting BIM as ‘business as usual’ and are implementing technology at faster rates than in other regions, such as the UK. This is an important point to make, since we are seeing beautifully detailed approaches to BIM in a very technologically savvy way in Australia and in the US as well.

Lack of consistent terminology is another challenge, evidenced in a lack of understanding and correct use of terms. This can also be observed in other regions of the world. Australia needs to adopt an international approach towards BIM implementation, in order to create opportunities for our sector to grow and ultimately export our skills. A consistent approach, using interoperable standards, will deliver huge benefits for our digital built environment and economy.

About the author

Rebecca De Cicco is the director and founder of Digital Node, a BIM-based consultancy working with clients all over the world to educate, manage and support the implementation of a clearly defined process, underpinned by technology.

The level of government support

The organisation of Australian governmental departments has also contributed to this fragmented approach towards implementation. Each department has its own process and strategy, working in isolation from other departments. This causes confusion in the supply chain, with companies left struggling to understand different approaches, processes and information requirements for each department and state.

Meanwhile, the BIM initiative we do have in Australia is highly infrastructuredriven, with transport and infrastructure bodies coining the term ‘digital engineering’ to try and drive consistency.

However, without a federal initiative, it is almost impossible and such a move seems unlikely in the forseeable future. The only way to address this is to drive BIM and digital engineering in the sectors across Australia where the highest financial investment is seen, such as in Sydney and New South Wales.

The skills gap

Skills gaps are varied too, yet the challenge in Australia lies mainly in the way BIM is seen and understood across the industry. There is still an idea that BIM is firstly, based on technology (or a piece of software), and secondly, a buildings-specific initiative.

There are very few BIM training organisations, yet there are strong technologydriven organisations driving BIM in isolation. The difference between Australia and the rest of the world, as we see it, is that we don’t have the culture to drive consistency across the whole sector, so even when it comes to training, there are a variety of methods and approaches to address the lack of skills.

We need to focus on process requirements rather than technology, as this is where the skills gaps predominantly lie. There is also a very inward-looking culture and, as much as Australia is a relatively young nation, many old-school processes and mentalities that hold us back.

The opportunities for the ANZ built environment community to upskill when it comes to BIM processes are huge, especially given that regions like China and Japan are also utilising British standards and processes. This could provide enormous opportunities for export and growth to regions closer to our shores. In fact, Australia could be a dominant force in BIM if only we take the initiative – and we need to ensure that we are working towards that vision now.

digital-node.com

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