Calls on government to speed up BIM adoption on public works
Contractors looking to do things better, faster, save money and reduce waste could benefit by adopting computer simulation technology on their projects, according to leading contractor Gammon Construction.
Citing data from the US, company director Derek So Kwok-leung said costs incurred by the contractor could be cut by 10 to 20 percent if they used Building Information Modelling (BIM) on their projects.
Gammon in particular had recognised the potential benefits from using BIM early on and in 2006 set up a dedicated department , the Visual Design and Construction Team.
So said using BIM technology helps in visualization of the building design and its construction sequence in three dimensions, allows better safety planning, better coordination of electrical and mechanical services and helps identify areas for cost savings.
The first project to benefit by using BIM was the One Island East office project for Swire Properties (1972) in 2008.
“We identified 6,000 problem areas,” So said, pointing to BIM’s ability to identify problem areas beforehand.
Other projects that got the BIM treatment were The Forum in Central, OPUS Hong Kong at Stubbs Road and the redevelopment of Kwun Tong Swimming Pool.
The latest high profile project to use BIM is the Midfield Concourse project worth HK$6.2 billion at Hong Kong International Airport.
In particular, the Midfield Concourse project is the first time that Gammon has used 3D printing technology to construct a model of the steelwork superstructure for planning and make it easier to brief frontline workers on the work.
“They can see which are the most important steps to take,” So said.
The University of Hong Kong of Science and Technology helped print out the various steelwork parts that can then be assembled to form a model of the steelwork.
So said while some projects did not stipulate use of BIM, Gammon went ahead anyway with it since the potential benefits were too important to ignore.
However the government has been slow by “several paces” in BIM adoption apart from the Housing Authority.
“The Housing Authority was the first department to use it,” So said.
The authority first started piloting use of BIM in 2006 and is now aiming for all projects to use BIM by 2014/15.
The government is now coming round to seeing the potential of BIM and its greater use on public works would help ignite more interest from other contractors, So said.
Developers are starting to see the benefits with employers such as Hysan Development (0014), Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks and the MTR Corporation (0066) now stipulating its use in projects.
“We feel the biggest push [for BIM] is from the clients,” So said.
He said Singapore has been more aggressive with adoption of BIM.
In 2010 the Building and Construction Authority there set a target of having 80 percent of the construction industry using BIM by 2015 as part of the Singapore government’s plan to increase productivity by 25 percent over the next decade.
In particular Singapore government contracts will take the lead with adoption of BIM from 2012 onwards.
In a report published in 2011, the Government Construction Strategy, the British government announced its intention to have all its projects adopt BIM by 2016.
Even mainland China has been adopting BIM faster than in Hong Kong, So said.
Currently Gammon is deploying 33 staff on BIM work of which 18 are in neighbouring Shenzhen.
Like other types of construction staff, finding the manpower for BIM work has been a problem.
“It isn’t easy to hire staff,” So said.