From 4 April 2016, any firm wanting to be considered for large scale public sector construction work in the UK will need to be BIM level 2 compliant.

This means that all project and asset information, documentation and data must be held in electronic form.

Back in 2011 the UK government said it would “require fully collaborative 3D BIM as a minimum by 2016”. The edict was subsequently refined to make clear that it refers to projects procured after 4 April 2016 by the big-spending central government departments. In these cases, the departments concerned will be expected to include BIM model requests as part of the construction contract in their Employers’ Information Requirements.

Even if your work is not directly affected by the 4 April BIM deadline, this watershed moment has ramifications for the wider construction industry. The introduction of BIM as mandatory for government jobs will have an impact beyond the public sector. Already, many architects and contractors are seeing BIM being specified on private sector jobs and BIM objects are becoming commonplace in design studios where there is no formal requirement for Level 2.

Mark Bew, chairman of the BIM Task Group, told building.co.uk that many large government departments are already using BIM, but that today’s deadline may be a wake-up call for those elsewhere in the industry. “It means it’s getting harder and harder and harder to work with government if you’re not familiar with the technology. The level of complexity of the ask will be variable, but every project will have this as part of the contract.”

Should I be worried?
An annual survey of 1,000 companies by NBS found that around half of the industry has yet to start using BIM. The figures show that adoption has, in fact, been slowing rather than accelerating. The figure for those currently using BIM is 54%, the same as recorded two years ago, which reinforces the sense that the early surge in uptake has largely dissipated.

Bew at the BIM Task Group is sanguine about uptake, choosing to point to the positives. For companies involved in the construction industry, however, the message is: If you’re not already involved in BIM, alarm bells should be ringing. “If you can’t do BIM, you’ll run the risk of excluding yourself from public and increasingly private work,” Peter Trebilcock, director of BIM at Balfour Beatty, told building.co.uk

Bruynzeel shelving and BIM
What does the BIM deadline mean for manufacturers? Although architects and large contractors will often be the first point of call for clients requiring BIM compliance, manufacturers have a significant part to play by making it easy to source BIM Level 2 models for components in a build.

In the UK Bruynzeel wanted to make the design and configuration of its systems more accessible for architectural practices and other third parties. This ambition fitted neatly with the requirement for BIM Level 2 compliance. In addition, as an approved Crown Commercial Service supplier to the UK government, Bruynzeel is keen to maintain easy access to its products and services for public sector clients.

The difficulty for Bruynzeel – as has been faced by a large number of small and medium sized businesses with a stake in the construction industry – was implementation.

Bruynzeel’s existing processes for creating specifications and drawings are set centrally and rolled out to all territories. It uses an integrated system for drawing, specification and billing. Altering this system was not practical in the short term to create BIM models in Revit, so in the UK Bruynzeel looked to an external consultant to provide BIM-ready models for external marketing purposes.

It was against this background that Bruynzeel approached NBS in the latter part of 2014 to begin the process of creating BIM objects for five of our most popular shelving products.

Our route to BIM
Bruynzeel’s Craig Rumbold explains: “I created a 2D AutoCAD drawing of all standard sizes applicable to the models – for five of our most popular products – and a walkthrough of our approach to configuring a system from scratch. In essence this included the length of the base, the height, and then the additional details such as number of loaded levels and bay types.” These details were sent to RIBA, who then began work on transforming our guidelines into the finished BIM objects.

Bruynzeel’s products are not simple. Originally the company considered patching together a complex object from its component parts. However, during the process NBS suggested it could create one configurable model which included all the essential variables for a complete object. This speeded up the process of object creation, and meant Bruynzeel’s financial and time investment at early stages was kept to a very manageable level.

Created for us by RIBA NBS and the National BIM Library, the end results are BIM Level 2 compliant. The BIM objects are currently available as Revit or IFC files, which you access for free from our downloads page. If you have the NBS plugin for Revit, you can also download the files directly into your Revit plan. For more information please visit the Bruynzeel page on the National BIM Library.

Looking to the future
To date, Bruynzeel has only created BIM objects for a selection of its mainstream products. The objects do not feature a large number of accessories and are missing some specific options – such as individually configurable shelf distances. Also, Bruynzeel products such as picture racking and double decker mobile shelving systems are yet to be added to the National BIM Library. So the company is a long way away from offering BIM objects on its complete range. “Our BIM endgame is to have every element of every product … available in BIM,” said Rumbold.

“When an architect or designer uses our BIM objects, the result is a much greater level of accuracy at early design stage,” said Rumbold. “This undoubtedly corresponds with increased efficiency of process – one of the outcomes BIM has always hoped to achieve.”