Building Information Modelling – this concept is only starting to get recognition in Poland, both in the private and public sector. Experts anticipate that it may revolutionise the approach to office design. The tool was used by students of the Warsaw University of Technology to design a pedestrian bridge for Łazienkowska Road, the Campus of New Technologies and the Congress Centre. Europtima is the main sponsor of the exhibition of the project results at the Faculty of Management of the Warsaw University of Technology. ‘This interdisciplinary project shows how many benefits can be generated by BIM for the University, supporting the process of educating future engineers as well as the industry itself. Awareness of the advantages of this solution in Poland is still low. At Europtima, we try to change this by shaping the awareness of our customers and continuous improvement of our competences in the area of the investment process that we participate in’, says Bartosz Zamara, PhD, Eng, Operations Manager at Europtima.
What future does BIM have in Poland?
BIM has arrived for good and will stay in Poland. I think that whoever adopts it first will gain a competitive advantage. This also applies to the fragmented use of BIM elements, often available in the course of a development, as a bottom-up initiative of the participants of the process. This makes it possible to gather experience and build competences despite the lack of participation in a full, formalized process conducted in accordance with the BIM methodology.
At what stage is Poland in the process of implementing of this solution?
In terms of public investments, BIM is just beginning, but awareness about the benefits resulting from the use of this solution increases, which is evidenced by pilot implementations, such as projects developed by the General Directorate for National Roads and Highways. In the private sector, BIM is also only in its infancy. The lack of awareness on the client’s side prevents them from exploiting the wide range of synergies that BIM offers. Having a large database (geometric and non-geometric data) developed in the course of building construction, is of great value during the operational phase. Building a 3D model provides a number of possibilities of use in areas like cost planning, or scheduling (i.e. BIM 4 and 5D). Nevertheless, a 3D model and appropriate tools enable and facilitate key decisions to be made during the design and implementation of an investment, as well as in marketing and sales. This would imply that developers consider projects in the short-term. They want to sell the building and they are not interested in a broader view of its life cycle, and BIM is regarded as an additional cost to the budget. I personally know about only one investment in Warsaw, which is run with BIM. It is only a basic level. The aim of the investor was to have complete as-built documentation. I could risk a statement that the promotion of BIM comes down to raising awareness and making the participants of a development process aware of the benefits that BIM offers at the same time.
Will this approach change soon?
A lot of work needs to be done in order to educate customers. At Europtima, we invite our clients to take part in training courses in which we participate ourselves. This allows us to speak the same language. We show that although the implementation of BIM generates costs, it is worth adopting Conscious adoption generates profit and cover its costs.
At the same time, clients search for information about this method, which is a good sign.
BIM is a tool that has huge potential in areas that are seemingly not directly related to design and development. Some residential investors use virtual reality to promote their developments. This is where one of the synergies provided by BIM can be seen. Having a 3D model created by an architect reduces the costs of preparing a VR projection for sales purposes.
In my opinion, VR and BIM offer numerous benefits that support the decision-making process of a developer. The tools available enable you to view the model from the inside, to get a perception of the space, and evaluate the functionality of the location of specific devices. For instance, hospital staff can evaluate whether the location of devices meets their requirements in terms of functionality or ergonomics.
At the construction stage BIM, 360o photography and VR enable effective decisions to be made. For instance the initial acceptance of a mock-up before the costs of its development are incurred. A decision maker from Paris can accept details of development located in in Asia, without long distance travel. By using BIM, you can walk around the development, which is located somewhere else.
Only knowledge of a wide range of possibilities and the willingness to make use of them is a limitation. So, we are back at the starting point, which is raising awareness about the added value of BIM adaptation. This is the only way to change the current situation.
What are the key benefits of a BIM approach to projects?
Some of the benefits already were mentioned above. They are consequence of the technical capabilities of this approach to project management. Generally, clients should define expected benefits in the context of their needs and the needs of the other participants of a specific project. A properly managed project using BIM methodology starts with goals definition and expectations related to the use of this particular technology. Here again, awareness about what this technology can offer is important.
For one, this may be the possibility to manage a transparent process and force close collaboration between participants as a result of full access to ‘single truth’. This makes life a lot easier. Imagine a tender where interpretation range is significantly limited.
Some developers may appreciate the possibility of gathering full and well-structured as-built information which will generate profit during the operational phase. This feature seems to be key for developers of commercial and office buildings. Full as-built information will make it easier for those responsible for the technical maintenance of the building. The owner will be able to provide a full information to the designer when a renovation or adaptation of the building is to be carried out.
The possibilities of parametric design and simplified analysis of different options of a project, for example in the spatial or cost-related context are also important.
In my opinion, the ability to gather information about the life cycle of a building should be the main case for using BIM in office developments. Such a database creates value, which can be used as an advantage when selling a particular property.
What about time and money? Are there any savings in this regard?
Money yes, especially when you look at a building in terms of its life cycle. The savings result from eliminating all types of risk related to an absence of complete information about a building.
Savings appear at the development stage. Proper design coordination between branches generates savings due to the elimination lack of collisions at the construction stage. Nevertheless, the precise quantification of these savings is problematic. The building can be erected only once and it is not possible to verify how things would go if BIM applied or not.
When it comes to time, there is always too little time during the project. BIM enables you to change what you focus on and to use the time more effectively. This applies to the possibility of variant analyses or faster and more accurate decisions, thanks to visualisation methods. For us, as a company that offers services related to cost estimation and cost control, it is important that the preparation of more accurate price estimates is significantly accelerated. This enables us to shift the weight of analysis to the prices assignment.
Europtima has become involved in a student programme that uses the BIM tool for designing public spaces. How important is the role of education and science in the process of using BIM in Poland?
Thanks to BIM, students from various departments started cooperating with one another, and this is the main value. As a student of civil engineering, I missed contact with students from other departments with regard to their future profession. Relationships were only formed after graduation, at work. In this case, the students had the opportunity to learn about the work of other branches, their limitations and interactions. This knowledge will certainly pay back in the future. Benefits will be gained by people involved in the project as well as their employers.
It should be mentioned that besides the philosophy of managing a project, BIM is also a technology that evolves continuously. Young people seem to be more capable of adapting to new technologies. This leads to the conclusion that well-directed students will be the source of numerous innovations in this field. I can imagine a situation in which lecturers will have to face the challenge of keeping up with new technologies and students.
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