BIM: Demonstrating the potential of innovation in the construction sector
What is BIM?
BIM is a process of creating intelligent 3-D models associated with physical and functional characteristics of buildings. This extends to spatial relationships, aesthetics, light analysis, acoustic properties, geographic information, and properties of building components.
Like in many sectors, this type of emerging digital technology is seen as an enabler for changing the way businesses work. The power of BIM is its ability to enable multi-disciplinary collaboration for document management, coordination, and simulation during the entire lifecycle of a project.
BIM is the latest technique for expressing information about a particular building plan. This proceeds the use of traditional 2-D blueprints and more recently, Computer Aided Design (CAD).
The NBS BIM report 2020 surveyed over 1,000 industry professionals on their views and adoption of BIM since 2011. The report highlights the increasing use of the technology within the construction sector.
Furthermore, the same report highlights that nearly half of those currently using BIM do so for the majority of projects.
Peter Barlow Technical , MPA
The significance of BIM is not just limited to its adoption within the sector. It has demonstrated the impact of a new technology in changing the way a sector operates. It highlights why time and investment in innovation like this is the solution to overcoming many of the challenges currently faced by the construction sector.”
What benefits can BIM give to construction projects?
BIM is being used to create visualizations that help stakeholders understand what buildings will look like before they are built. Analysis of this ‘digital twin’ helps businesses overcome real world challenges while still in design.
BIM make sense of multiple sets of data that when used effectively provide a single source of reference to support carrying out construction projects with increased efficiencies. A study by Mckinsey shows that 75% of businesses using BIM found their project life cycles shortened.
Many businesses see BIM as not just a technology, but a methodology that they want to integrate into their way of working – facilitating collaboration, increasing coordination, and reducing risk.
This increased coordination and reliability is improving build quality and project outcomes. With capability becoming more sophisticated through increasing use of cloud connected technologies, it’s clear BIM is here to stay.
Can BIM adoption costs be claimed back under R&D tax credits?
To qualify for R&D tax credits an uncertainty needs to be overcome, where the solution is not readily available and could not be easily solved by a professional in the same field. In resolving this issue, an advancement beyond that just realizable to the specific business in question should be sought – this can be tangible or intangible.
For construction businesses beginning to adopt BIM, there may be the need to create new internal processes that will allow it to share project data correctly. They may also have to hire specialist consultants to facilitate BIM adoption or invest in developing custom software that would allow its legacy systems to connect to the BIM.
Any BIM technology, processes and collaborative behaviours that unlock new more efficient ways of working at all stages of the project life cycle may qualify for R&D tax credits.
The R&D tax credit scheme is designed to enable and reward innovation, allowing businesses in the construction sector to claim up to 33p for every £1 for this kind of activity. With the construction sector currently only making up 4% of the total amount claimed in UK, many thousands of pounds are going unclaimed. The money returned on tax credits could help offset the cost of this BIM technology.