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Industry must work together to reap the benefits of BIM

18 Mar 2016

Utilities need to work together and share information to get the maximum benefit from Building Information Modelling (BIM), water industry data expert Andrew Cowell told delegates attending the British Water BIM Conference in March.

Mr Cowell, engineering director of MWH and chair of BIM4Water, said collaboration as well as competition is essential in reaping the full benefits of the introduction of BIM – which allows information management of projects and assets. He told delegates that although there was a lot of useful discussion taking place there is still a great deal of work to be done.

British Water provides the secretariat for the group BIM4Water, which holds regular meetings to discuss the implementation of Building Information Modelling.

Digital revolution

Andrew Cowell said: “There are a number of industry bodies that are developing the application of BIM. If we could collaborate to harness this effort to improve the efficiency of the water sector that would be a powerful development.

“The application of BIM is part of the digital revolution. With the awareness and desire to collaborate we can deliver greater efficiency, however to do this we will need leadership to set the vision and humility to work together across the many disparate initiatives that are currently underway.

“This is a significant change from our current thinking where we believe competition through procurement is the primary route to a more efficient industry.”

BIM in action

Ninety delegates from the water industry, government bodies and academia attended the conference held at Aston Villa Football Club on 7 March, where speakers included representatives of industries which have already adopted BIM.

Simon Newton, Head of Engineering at London Underground, explained how using BIM allowed the transport network to anticipate increased demand, concentrate resources, improve efficiency and boost customer satisfaction. Peter Vale, Engineering Information Manager at Thames Tideway Tunnel showed how BIM is being used to maximise the benefits of the £4.2 billion project.

Discussing practical applications within the water industry were Helen Samuels, Engineering Director of United Utilities, Adrian Goldspink, Business Analyst for Anglian Water and Paul Davison, Head of Water Capital Procurement for Northern Ireland Water.

Mark Enzer, Group Practice Manager, Mott MacDonald spoke of the potential of BIM to improve the management of ageing infrastructure.  John Cox from Huber discussed how equipment manufacturers are getting ready to deliver product data. 

David Hargreaves Technical Service Manager from MEPS explained how BIM is being used to ensure collaborative planning, while Paul Griffiths, Land & Property Manager of Ordnance Survey spoke about the future of digital mapping.

Open standards

Conference Chairman Andrew Cowell said: “Building Information Modelling has huge potential to increase efficiency and customer service – however there is a need to share information and to consider adopting common and open industry standards. Learning and collaboration will be important in realising the full benefits offered by implementing BIM in the water sector.”

Marta Perez, Technical Manager of British Water said: “Events like this one help build understanding of BIM and supporting its implementation in the water industry. The introduction of BIM has the potential to allow the industry to work better, smarter and more efficiently.

“British Water is working to help bring clarity, consistency and homogeneity to manufacturers and service providers who face the need to make changes in order to move into a data-driven future.”