The Australian Department of Defence has emerged at the forefront of efforts to incorporate Building Information Modelling (BIM), using it to enhance the development and operation of its vast portfolio of assets.
Brigadier Darren Naumann, acting head of infrastructure for the Department of Defence, said in a recent presentation on enhancing project outcomes that the department is taking the lead in the implementation of BIM amongst government bodies.
Areas where BIM is being put into practice include facilities for maritime patrol systems acquired under the AIR 7000 Phase 2 project, air warfare destroyer and landing helicopter dock sustainment facilities, and the Moorebank Units Relocation (MUR) project.
BIM and related digital engineering technologies are already being applied to the MUR project, which will see units based at Moorebank - including the School of Military Engineering - shifted to new, purpose-built facilities at Holsworthy Barracks in western Sydney.
Three-dimensional modelling - the most fundamental component of BIM - is being applied to health and safety reviews in order to better prevent hazards such as excavation collapses and underground service strikes.
More advanced 4D BIM - which adds the dimension of time to virtual modelling - is being applied to construction planning and program tracking for the overall building schedule.
The Department of Defence expects the use of BIM to bring manifold benefits to the project, including reductions in error rates and wastage, increases to buildability and efficiency, enhanced safety, and optimized decision-making.
The benefits will also extend beyond the design and build phase of the project, with BIM models slated for incorporation into management systems to improve the performance of maintenance procedures and the collection of critical asset data.
The lead taken by the department on BIM marks a major step forward in efforts to foster the adoption of the new design and construction methodology.
The Department of Defence is one of the biggest asset owners in the country with over 30,000 properties in its portfolio, annual capital expenditures in excess of $1 billion, and annual estate maintenance costs of more than $450 million.
Measures to promote BIM in Australia nonetheless lag behind many other countries such as the UK and Singapore, who have both set deadlines for when the process will be mandated for developments of a certain scale.
Speaking at the sidelines of the Bentley Advantage Conference in Brisbane, Bentley vice-president for the South-East Asia Pacific Alan Savin recommended the Australian Government look to the examples set by these nations with respect to BIM implementation.
"Australia has strong ties to the UK and Singapore and can really just follow the lead taken by those countries in those areas," said Savin. "They've really done a great job of stating what BIM means and helping the industry to get there."