I attended the BDA’s “Digital Data in Geotechnics and Construction” seminar at the National Space Centre, Leicester on the 8th of October. Working across several sectors with our 4 specialist Divisions we find that we need to tailor our approach to data management often on a job by job basis. It is therefore great to see the British Drilling Association recognising this and inviting speakers to discuss “how the digital data produced by the geotechnical sector can interact with BIM systems, focussing on what is possible today, and what is likely to happen in the medium term” (BDA Seminar Flyer 02/10/15). This is of course of particular interest following the formation of our specialist Geotechnical Exploration Services division.

In a world where the term BIM drops into conversation almost weekly it was interesting to see that there was no agreed definition for it as highlighted in Neil Chadwick’s (Arup) talk. A simple Wikipedia search brings up the US National Building Information Standard Project Committees definition of “Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition. (“Building information modelling”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Date last updated (13/10/15). Web. Date accessed (12/10/15). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_information_modeling).

Regardless of the definition, the ideals of the concept can only benefit all you would think. However there were several major issues discussed at the seminar. One of the main issues was a perceived concern that some contractors may not wish for all their work to be fully shared, in the main to avoid any legal issues that may arise at a later date. I guess in some disciplines the concern is greater than others but the fact that it was discussed demonstrates that it is a genuine issue. In our industry we are very open in what we do as our work more often than not has to be altered to what is found as the ground is investigated. As such there is no real need to hide what you’ve done or found unless you haven’t done the work in the first place! We know the best way to work with a client is to be open- this may not be the case for some contractors in our industry though!

The other concern was the costs associated with working with many different companies and therefore BIM systems. There were differing opinions on this with the main champions of the field stressing that it will save money and time. This was fielded by the more established firms whom in my view will likely impose their system on others and have the resources to work on others where required. The voice for the smaller contractor on the other hand pointed out that it will likely put out of business a lot of the smaller contractors whom will end up having to work to and to conform to many BIM system requirements with relatively limited resources. I think this is a legitimate point seeing as I do the amount of PQQ’s and the amount of safety assessment schemes we have to be part of to thrive in this industry- that is not to say these are not valued and important but there is so much overlap that you are often just repeating the same work with a little twist.

My thoughts on BIM? Great concept, vital concept but one needing a central voice otherwise it will end up a mine field like the previously mentioned PQQ’s and Health and Safety assessment schemes.


Author: Matt Dale, Drilcorp Commercial Manager

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