Building On Construction Quality With BIM

Building On Construction Quality With BIM

What is BIM all about and how can it help improve construction quality? 

BIM is a process that involves creating and using intelligent 3D models to inform and communicate project decisions across a development lifecycle. BIM is actually a process that combines people, process and technology – As defined by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), “BIM is the development and use of a computer software model to simulate the construction and operation of a facility (project).

The resulting model, a BIM, is a data-rich, object-oriented, intelligent and parametric digital representation of the project, from which views and data appropriate to various users’ needs can be extracted and analyzed to generate information for decision-making purposes and to improve the process of delivering the project.”.

A construction project, particularly larger, multi-storied ones require the joint effort of a group of contractors, each handling a specific task. The many phases of a project, from piling and building structure to mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) works are handled by different contractors and more than often, a few contractors are involved in each phase.

Building defects sometimes come about when element to element handovers are not executed well and this in turn, leads to onsite rectification, sub-standard workarounds and even sloppy repair work. A study conducted by Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2014, A Prospective Study on Building Quality points out that 90% of building failures are due to problems arising in the design and construction stages. These problems include poor communication, inadequate information or failure to check information, inadequate checks and controls, lack of technical expertise and skills, and inadequate feedback leading to recurring errors.

BIM strives to provide solutions to these problems – With BIM, we have been able to help our clients create a 3D model with enough accurate information to help the various contractors coordinate their efforts and also quickly identify clashes, which eventually reduce on-site rework. This allows for more time to be spent on executing each phase of construction work effectively and efficiently with minimum errors.

At Bina Initiatives, the BIM process is complemented by or mobile product, Novade Quality; an app that manages the A-Z of the construction process from inspections and checklists to handovers and throughout the Developer Liability Period. Novade automates and digitises contractors’ Quality Checks processes and Request for Inspections (RFI), allowing project managers to track and manage quality issues in real time.

Developers might be hesitant to adopt BIM due to the cost factor. Is BIM affordable only for big developers or is there a misconception over the cost involved?

The BIM solution is affordable for all organisations, be it big or small. Users now have the option to pay for software as and when they need it while previously clients had to pay a substantial upfront amount for a permanent license. Today, contractors even have the option to sign up for 1-month contract. Software companies like Bentley Systems have also lowered the barriers to entry by offering a Cloud Service Subscription without an expiration term.

Clients will be charged quarterly against the subscription balance only for the services used. This balance never expires, so when actual usage does not match the anticipated usage, any remaining sum rolls forward, thus the “pay it as you use it” mechanism.

Nevertheless, the current challenge is the existing culture and mindset – many in the local construction industry have yet to appreciate the value of BIM collaboration and may not understand the importance of different parties working together on the same project throughout its duration.

Also, most stakeholders are very much comfortable with the existing decades-old, conventional process. The lack of capable BIM coordinators and Managers is another issue.

What are the long-term savings like, would developers/homebuyers save in terms rework/maintenance cost?

Bina Initiatives has been providing BIM solutions and innovative software since 2009 and have seen many construction companies transform their build quality and capabilities.

For instance, our Novade app for quality management has helped contractors improve defect inspection productivity by 80% – with Novade, contractors require only 130 man hours for a general inspection process as compared to the 692 man hours under a conventional inspection process.

Clients have cited numerous benefits including reduced errors and omissions, enhanced collaboration with owners/design firms, reduced construction cost and minimum rework. In overall, our clients enjoy an estimated savings of between 4-5% on change orders and 5-7% on overall project costs.

What do you think should be done to improve the standards of construction quality in Malaysia? Which country has exemplary construction quality practices that Malaysia could adopt?

The use of BIM in construction industries is being adopted on a global scale. A growing number of countries including the US, the UK, Singapore and South Korea have mandated the use of BIM in public construction projects.

Some countries have also set up agencies to manage the nationwide implementation of BIM and the introduction of best practices and standards – a move which Malaysia must follow to drive the local construction industry to the next level.

In addition, I suggest the following initiatives:

  • CIDB to provide support to local contractors and developers through a BIM training centres and laboratories. This will help educate stakeholders on the full potential of BIM technology and provide training on how to apply BIM accordingly in their daily work.
  • Developers should engage experienced and capable BIM consultants for guidance on where to begin and what are the available resources.
  • Utilise automated tools such as the Novade Quality, Novade Safety and Novade Maintenance – these digital resources will revolutionise the speed and quality of building delivery.
  • Liaising with universities/colleges to incorporate BIM into the curriculum of relevant degree and higher diploma courses.
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