SA BIM Talks Post Event Report 2016

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A buzzing and enthusiastic audience turned up earlier this month and crowded the Digital Knowledge Lounge at the Cape Construction Expo in Cape Town at the CTICC to listen in on highly informative and engaging BIM topics & discussions. Our expert panel certainly kept our visitors enlightened with critical analysis and debates centred around digital construction solutions offered by local and international vendors and currently available to the local industry.

Once again the BIM Institute excelled by ensuring that the programme ran smoothly over the two days. A massive thank you once again to our amazing sponsors: AECOM, ARUP, Turner Townsend, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, BuildingPoint SA and Nashua for making the Digital Knowledge Lounge possible. It was then left to the chair “Executive Director of the BIM Institute” Vaughan Harris to engage in dialogue with his invited panel of experts

The theme of the lounge this time was “BIM Talks” and Vaughan kicked off the proceedings with an update of the benefits of BIM adoption so far in South Africa.

Digital Knowledge LoungeVaughan commented on the importance of the process in BIM and that the digital design model is only a part of the process. He also noted that although the architectural software applications are leaders in selling BIM, but not to forget the process of sharing information or data in a business or project environment made perfect sense to store in a 3D Model. BIM is by no means a new acronym to many global companies involved in infrastructure projects who are continuously looking at new and improved ways to drive sustainability.

For most organizations, especially contractors in South Africa, simply moving from 2D to 3D has broad implications, we cannot even consider speaking of  the realm of “4D and 5D” as it’s hard enough to wrap our heads around all 3 dimensional processes before someone speaks of throwing time and money into a 3D object that first needs to define interoperability.

Vaughan went onto say that there are indeed few countries in the world that have dedicated groups devoted to nurturing BIM adoption and sharing lessons learned to the extent, and the intricacy, of those such as the UK. Which is important for us to follow and engage with on a lessons learned basis.

Nashua’s  88inch sponsored touch screen display saw the first discussion of the day was with Kobus de Villiers from WSP Parson Brinkerhoff who took an interesting and engaging look at South African Companies already implementing BIM in design and the ever changing landscape of BIM policy implementation within different companies. He went onto explain how WSP PB has started adopting international standards across all their divisions.

With Keith Stewart  from  Micro Graphics and Enslin Joubert  from  SAOTA up next, an interesting and engaging look at  Africa’s most expensive residential house designed by SAOTA  in Cape Town using 3D Modelling methods.

Enslin was in the perfect place to deliver this case study and as a committee member of the BIM Institute his contribution towards helping define the SA Protocol has been of great value. Keith also went on to mention the positive aspects of BIM are only being seen with architects that have a global or international portfolio.

The next speakers Gavin Lloyd and Justin Hill from Lloyd Hill explained using BIM on existing structures and how point cloud and 3D scanning features are a foundation to BIM on structures.

Another interesting discussion followed   Collaboration between Engineers and Designers in BIM is essential with Nicholas Karassavas from ARUP and Marco Macagnano from Bentel Associates. Nicholas cited that the low number of Quantity Surveyors at the event and taking an interest in BIM was a telling concern and that more practitioners needed to be engaged in the process. He did elaborate in other areas however and pointed out that QS’s need less info than designers tend to think (at first) and that increasingly, other roles that could potentially fall under the QS’s jurisdiction could be those of validating models and checking tagging/descriptions too. Plus QS’s could look to provide carbon estimates as well as cash estimates also. Vaughan acknowledged and challenged the contractor QS and PQS to start getting more involved and would like to discuss their profession in BIM at the next event in May 2017 in JHB at Gallagher Estate.

The afternoon still saw an engaged crowd passing through and some individuals waiting in anticipation to hear more. Our exhibitors were enjoying the open dialogue and discussion. Our next speaker Ian Saunders from ASITE took to the floor and went on to discuss ‘There is no BIM without collaboration’. Ian highlighted the advantages and shortfalls in great detail inspiring the panel to ask several questions, particularly around security and integration with 3rd party applications. Ian gave us a brief overview on how they have integrated for a client with CCS Candy Estimating and how data can easily be shared between project members who don’t even have a Candy license. An awesome vehicle or platform where the sky is your limit when one is thinking BIM 5D estimating.

digital knowlwdge Lounge - BIM InstituteThe last discussion of the day was with Clifford Human from Construction Computer Software who showcased an integrated Cost Management case study for Contractors. Clifford went onto reinforce the importance of real-time cost management and the value leveraged with having access to data at the tip of your finger went comparing cost with allowable.

Concluding the day was the BIM Institutes closed door meeting for invited delegates only to discuss South Africa’s BIM Protocol work in progress document. The meeting was concluded and all 18 delegates were in agreement with the process being managed by the Institute was on the right track.

In formulating our meeting, it was agreed by all members that the SA BIM Protocol document would remain  as a work in progress document before submitting to government to help improve the digital construction performance. We not only wish to study the experience of other countries that have embraced cutting edge construction technology but turn to our Associate Partners;  ARUP, AECOM and Turner Townsend where they have transformed themselves in recent years using the very same technology.

We have learnt that continuous and sustained improvement is achievable if we focus all our efforts on delivering the technologies that our customers need to improve industry sustainability, and if we are prepared to challenge the slow up take of BIM and advanced technology solutions arising from our existing structures and working practices.

All members were also in agreement with the  BIM Insitute’s initiative to develop a BIM Compliancy Certificate Level 1 -3 for software vendors and professionals. A list of organisations that have received competency certificates will be available on the BIM Institute website. The certificate will be known as the BIM DECLARATION CERTIFICATE.

Day Two

Day two of the expo started  with Francois Swanepoel  and Werner van der Watt from FusionBIM  showing us what Open BIM really means and how IFC is fundamental to the way we work on BIM projects.  Werner also went on to highlight the lack of client understanding which is still the biggest problem by far, with shortfalls in education and training in second place too.


John Carey  and Brent Godfrey from BuildingPoint SA (Trimble) then spoke about levels of geometry and information that a model should contain. Trimbles Field to BIM and from BIM to Field showed us the field  attribute-rich BIM models from the office, combined with the latest construction site layout hardware, making short-work of common building setting out and as-built measurement tasks. John also revealed the many positive and negative encounters he’d had when discussing BIM with others along the way.  Also noting that there was a growing need for a public and private sector to understand first world products available on the market are not just in the design software. John’s and Brent’s case study with Trimble solution was spectacular to watch  and was an eye opener for many.

Steve Golding from SSG Consulting was next up to impress us with his cloud base Key360 solution for BIM data and the Importance of Cloud Technology in Construction and Document Management in construction

Last but not least Vaughan opened a  discussion and presentation on the 10 Pillars in demystifying BIM processes which left many feeling like Neo in the Matrix. Vaughan went onto explain that each constructive element of the 10 pillar guide is parametric, meaning that it allows for information to be populated or captured. Each element on the diagram is a task or data driven and includes design information of the project from its initial conceptual phase, including all the necessary information and specifications to enable users to study and control the entire life cycle of the project and not leave any possible issues to chance. Without BIM, it is unfeasible to study and assess project phase systems like energy efficiency studies, environmental feasibility, use and maintenance, etc.

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The BIM process requires people, technology and collaboration.

Mark Wainwright from Turner Townsend also stepped in to add ‘Where to start implementing BIM on infrastructure projects’. This discussion certainly had the audience engaged as the panel opened up with discussions around the common data environment (CDE), managing and publishing documentation, a dump for graphical models and non-graphical data for the whole project team. Shawn Hopkins from BIM Bakery also brought his two cents to the podium and enlightened us all on the importance of BIM Object parameters and what they have been developing with BIMspec  in partnership with Autospec. He highlighted the co-ordination of objects different parts and how Open BIM needs to be a standard on all projects.

Two days of exciting talks and networking left over 2000 visitors an understanding of BIM but for the more enthusiastic BIMmer, they took with them the importance of BIM and that it allows software systems effectively to connect the architectural model of a building with various other systems that play a role in completing the project. These include structures, surveying, measurements, costings, planning, energy efficiency, etc. throughout the project’s life cycle, is the single source of information for the project. Creating this single source of information occurs best in a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform where collaboration between project team members and client and helps avoid duplication and mistakes.


These are the sessions that make the Digital Lounge Talks at events so compelling and so useful. A chance to chat, ask questions and engage with the issues of the day in a friendly, welcoming and open manner. There is no obligation to ask questions and many interested visitors take notes although within a moment the digital lounge soon turns into a buzzing lively debate. See you at the ACE/TCE 2017 at Gallagher Estate for our next round of Digital Knowledge Lounge BIM hard talk.

See you there!!

Vaughan Harris

Executive Director
BIM Institute



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