We have enough tools now, focus on people: Skanska’s BIM challenge

“We’ve probably got more technology than we know what to do with,” said Skanska’s UK head of digital, David Throssell (Nasa/Public domain)
The key challenge to Skanska driving adoption of BIM across its global operations is people and cultural change now that there are enough tools, Skanska UK head of digital construction David Throssell said during the Global Construction Summit last week (24 February).

Throssell presented highlights of a BIM adoption survey that he conducted among his Skanska colleagues in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark the US, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.

With a one territory-one-country format, the most significant challenge to BIM adoption was people and cultural change, mentioned by nearly half of Throssell’s colleagues.

Technology was a challenge for less than a third, followed by process and cost.

“Whatever you do in adopting BIM, people and cultural change is the hard one,” Throssell said.

He highlighted digital champions or coaches as a means of overcoming this: “Skanska Sweden made a conscious decision to convert a lot of their BIM coordinators to digital coaches, which is about getting out of your corner of the site office doing BIM for the project and actually coaching colleagues to help them help themselves. We’ve had some success with a similar approach in the UK.”

Possibly reflecting a level of e-learning fatigue, Throssell’s colleagues said face-to-face training was the most effective BIM training method.

Reflecting his experience in the UK, Throssell said: “We’ve probably got more technology than we know what to do with. We don’t need to go out and buy a lot more.”

Plea for commonality

Speaking alongside Throssell at the Summit webinar were Ben Wallbank, BIM strategy and partnerships manager EMEA at Trimble Viewpoint, and Dave Peacock, technical director at TÜV SÜD.

Wallbank broadcast a plea for commonality in standards: “BIM is a global challenge, and it is different in each location, but there is commonality, and the more commonality we can get, the better.

“There are lots of different standards and they’re all trying to do the same thing. There are enormous advantages globally if we try not to be parochial and nationalistic about standards. There are huge advantages for us as a construction industry and as software industry to start doing things in a similar way.”

He noted that “if a client follows the ISO 19650, they will be a good client.”

Looking at BIM adoption, Wallbank said: “For one-off clients and developers, [BIM adoption] will be at bit like sustainability was in the past – if you said, I want this project to be BREEAM Very Good or Excellent, your developer would say ‘that’s going to cost x’, and the reality is now that they can’t sell that asset without that standard – and it will be the same with asset information.”

Where’s the ROI?

Peacock presented TÜV SÜD’s research on the return on investment (ROI) of BIM. Six main elements accounted for half the savings generated from information management processes versus traditional methods on German projects:

  • Space optimisation through optimised layout planning;
  • Reduction of maintenance work preparation;
  • Reduction of operational running costs;
  • BIM-based thermal building simulation;
  • BIM-based system simulation;
  • Avoidance of profit loss due to timely completion.

Other drivers identified in the research included the reduction of the volume of additional work via clash detection, and optimisation of construction site logistics.

Peacock highlighted the obstacles in the way of BIM successfully delivering ROI: “Technology can be purchased but unused. Processes can be put in place but not followed. And people are the biggest hurdle.”

He reminded attendees: “BIM is far more than a 3D model or technology, and requires an holistic transformation process to unlock the ROI that we have seen is possible.”

The Global Construction Summit is organised by the Chartered Institute of Building and Global Construction Review, in association with Glodon, PlanRadar and Trimble Viewpoint.

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