As we enter 2018 and a new year in the construction industry begins, Russell Stilwell shares his thoughts on how he thinks BIM will influence the industry this year

Across the construction industry, adhering to deadlines and budgets continues to be a major player in the pressures we face as a sector. Year on year we witness an increase in demand for more efficient solutions on projects. However I believe that developments in technology, in particular BIM, are facilitating and driving the development, availability and accessibility of innovative working practices. As we move into the first quarter of 2018, I believe that this is the year that services such as BIM, Point Cloud Scanning and 3D modelling could really come into their own.

Although these technologies have already played a role in the construction industry for a few years, until recently the sector has operated quite archaically. In my opinion, 2018 could pave the way for a steep learning curve as the sector becomes more educated about the benefits innovation can bring. However, early adoption is key. Businesses that are already utilising BIM technology, such as my company RSE Technologies, are leading change in the industry, providing the results and evidence which encourages others to sit up and pay attention. 2018 could lead us to a stage where these innovative solutions are becoming more widely recognised for the capabilities they can offer the industry.

The first step on the road to innovation is recognising that this technology needs to be adopted early in order to achieve the best results long-term. I’m not just talking about the few pioneering businesses which have already embraced it. I’m talking about early engagement across the industry and beyond – from young people still in the education system, right through to individuals with years of experience under their belt. The industry needs to fully embrace BIM technology from the word go and as a collective, we need to identify how important it is to implement this technology in our day-to-day business.

The process of creating and managing the project from the starting line is proven to reduce time and money spent, as well as reduce potential costly or dangerous mistakes. By providing a BIM model, those working on a project have clear instructions on what is required making the process quicker and easier, ultimately reducing pressure. It’s a win-win scenario.

Through utilising BIM, I predict that the prefabrication of buildings and the assets within them will be a powerful, and effective, solution that will change the way that a large proportion of projects are carried out. Prefabrication is extremely time efficient and allows assets to be measured and created accurately off site so they can be installed in one hit. This means it is no longer necessary for individual components to be measured and installed one by one.

Another part of BIM technology that has the potential to be a game changer in 2018 is Asset Management. Asset Management keeps track, monitors and manages the individual assets within a building and can be used from the initial building stage right through to the ongoing facilities management. Asset Management is a solution I feel passionately about and have been developing this within RSE Technologies to make this readily available for everybody in the industry. BIM plays an integral part in the success of Asset Management and how effective this resourcecan be for a project. When utilised correctly, and to its full potential, the collaboration between BIM and Asset Management can save millions of pounds on projects in the construction phase alone. This is an impressive figure and as more people become aware of the benefits that this partnership could have on their projects throughout the year, I expect to see this utilised more and more.

Along with an increase in the utilisation of BIM, another focus for the construction industry for 2018 will be Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. These innovations allow drawings and plans to be brought to life through the use of BIM – ensuring that the design will be effective and work as intended. Ultimately this makes a project slicker by removing even more of the grey matter which is often present in the world of construction.

The question which comes to mind is – will 2018 see the prolific use of BIM technology across the board?

Big infrastructure developments are on the horizon, namely Crossrail. Network Rail is delivering a £2.3bn investment programme to improve the existing railway for the Crossrail programme. This project is said to be running on time and on budget (at the moment) and is scheduled to complete by the end of 2018. However, after over 20 years in the industry, I am aware of how small details can have a big impact on a project.In an ideal world, everything will run smoothly, yet as we all know, this is unlikely. Therefore, I believe that we may see a surge in demand for construction workers from Network Rail as they near the project finish line. With all of these individuals working on Crossrail, this leads me to wonder how many people will be left to work on the other projects across the industry. Will this lead to a shortage in the workforce and result in other deadlines being missed?

My hope is that we can overcome any potential issues through the use of efficient, innovative technology – however it will be up to the industry to implement this in order to avoid any real issues or disruption.

Not only will this technology improve the efficiency of large projects, such as Crossrail, it will also have a knock on effect on the wellbeing of peoplewithin our industry. Programme deadlines can be met or bettered. Budgets can be adhered toand managed with optimised effect. Outstanding results can be achieved. But, perhaps most importantly, projects can be derisked effectively and staff benefit from improved safety through the capability of the equipment.

The industry is slowly waking up to the effect of mental health. Taboos surrounding the subject are starting to be eroded. I believe the accuracy that newer BIM technologies can provide, will become one of the most impactful solutions for eradicating the confrontational approach which is so prevalent within construction and leads to so many devastating consequences.

I hope that 2018 will be an eye opening year for our industry – not just as a result of wider implementation of BIM, but also due to a new approach to mental health.

Russell Stilwell is Founder and Managing Director of the RSE Group. RSE Building Services is a leading mechanical and electrical engineering specialist working in London and throughout the South East. By harnessing the latest in technology, RSE Building Services challenges the current culture within the construction industry, whilst using state-of- the-art innovation to influence and raise standards across the board.

For more information, please see www.rsetechnologies.co.uk