BIM for Smart Engineering Centre
Jointly established by Cardiff University, Dalian University of Technology, China Communications Construction Company
Jointly established by Cardiff University, Dalian University of Technology, China Communications Construction Company

Quality assurance in BIM implementation

Quality assurance (QA) is critically important to secure the successful delivery of a project/product. In the AEC/O (Architecture, Engineering and Construction / Operation) industries, there are several existing challenges to be addressed to achieve better QA processes. For example, many current QA practices are still limited with using non-digital reporting systems; the knowledge embedded within collected solutions / risk mitigation measures have therefore not been successfully captured and re-used to form up systemic computing tools to prevent the similar risks/faults/mistakes happening again. Furthermore, the approach of collecting data and information for QA analysis is still static, constrained within individual sectors and manual based. This makes it very difficult to identify and incorporate the dynamically changing influencing factors across different domains and sectors to achieve a comprehensive quality assurance for construction projects and organisations.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the recent technology focus for the construction industry and is fast becoming a key instrument in changing how the built environment is designed, built and managed. With several decades of continuous research inputs BIM has now reached technological maturity to enable a successful worldwide large scale industry implementation process. BIM can be described as the life cycle re-use of knowledge through standardisation.

In the United Kingdom, the Government has specified 2016 BIM level 2 compliance for all public procurement projects. In France, the “Mission numérique” initiative (20 M€ over 3 years) has set similar targets. Other EU countries, such as Germany, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Netherlands have also set up plans aiming at modernising the construction sector through the adoption of BIM. Further afield China is also demanding within their strategic development plans their own 2020 BIM compliance.

BIM has the capability, by using updated life cycle information flows to provide an information structure that enables a comprehensive project / institutional knowledge base which can enable a ‘smart’ and automatic decision making system for holistic QA.

This Quality Assurance for BIM research will develop a new generation BIM governance framework supporting multi-facet project and organisation quality assurance. The framework will understand the core governance aspects of compulsory BIM level 2 requirements, e.g. EIR/AIR/OIR, BEP, MIDP, PDT, CDE etc.; hence it can combine the compatible BIM processes together with standard ISO 9001 QA frameworks.  The framework can also be used as an onsite QA guidance for both project deliverer, (e.g. designer, builder, or contractor) and the end user / client to achieve clearly defined requirements that will check against an agreed QA criteria.

WP 1: Dynamic Lifecycle Data for QA (months 3-18)

The current fundamental BIM data specification lacks definitions for specific parameters and performance indicators to support a robust quality assurance process. There is a need to understand the current QA workflow, and to further extend BIM data schema, e.g. IFC (Industry Foundation Classes), to develop a concise MVD (Model View Definitions) to clarify the data exchanging requirements and integration processes; and to define relevant mechanism to ensure life cycle data and research outputs.

WP 2: BIM Based Governance Frameworks (months 6-24)

Quality assurance systems are applied throughout the entire project lifecycle. For a robust project delivery, a framework is needed that will understand the comprehensive BIM governance factors where all the BIM level 2 standard requirements (as described above) have been defined, compared and embedded into a new digital work flow.

A comprehensive taxonomy leading to a developed knowledge base will also need to be conceptualised and computerised through various advanced techniques, e.g. natural language processing, artificial intelligence (ontology) in order to provide a mechanism to support holistic decision making and reuse of the concluded knowledge. The different inter-relationships for collaboration among different sectors across a project life cycle requires formalising and converted as protocols and rules for reasoning against to draw up systematic solutions.

WP 3: Automatic BIM Maturity Assessment Matrix (months 12-33)

BIM provides the opportunity to optimise and improve the traditional workflow by increasing productivity through improved quality control and efficiency. Which in turn necessitates further increases in improvement for BIM implementation.

It is therefore critical to understand the quality of BIM implementation, i.e. BIM maturity. The relevant role profile, linked BIM competency/capability, BIM responsibility and so on, needs to be defined and linked through, to create a performance matrix to assess the BIM maturity for individual/project/organisation. Large scale industry surveys will have to be conducted to conclude relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), and to further develop a comprehensive weighting system for a maturity assessment, which is a critical component for comprehensive QA. 

Summary

The significance of the steps outlined above, is that UK Government has adopted this definition in its Construction Strategy, by requiring that all publicly-funded construction work must be undertaken by using Building Information Modelling to Level 2, by 2016. This mandate has been set as one measure to help in fulfilling their target of reducing waste in construction by 20%. It is considered that abortive work, discrepancies and mistakes, and inefficiencies in the information supply chain are major contributors to this waste; and that collaborative working can assist in this reduction.

A soft landing approach will be created to the introduction of Building Information Modelling at SME level explaining the background and history of the concept, and most importantly how construction-related businesses can introduce and benefit from ‘BIM Level 2’ and what is happening at level 3 and beyond.  

ECL and Cardiff University have access to proactive and engaged industry partners who are responsible for delivering suitable BIM Compliant Projects with a diverse range of SME’s within their supply chain that will provide the research base for the above WPs.

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