Australia’s engineering and construction companies are still lagging behind their peers in other OECD countries when it comes to the uptake of BIM, significantly impeding their ability to compete on an international playing field.

According to Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley, the need to remain abreast of the latest BIM methodologies is becoming increasingly acute, given the technology’s rapid evolution and expanding global uptake.

“The rate of change in BIM technology is increasing, and advances in just the past five years with things like reality modelling have been extraordinary,” he said.

“Adopting BIM will enable Australian engineering companies to improve their competitiveness by enhancing their ability to meet global standards and collaborate on projects in other parts of the world.”

Bentley pointed in particular to the efforts by members of the engineering and construction sectors in major economies to expedite BIM usage and deployment.

“The Chinese are currently some of the fastest adopters of our new products, while the UK government has spurred the ability of the construction and engineering industry to work smarter by means of a BIM mandate,” he said.

Bentley’s remarks follow similar calls from Rob Malkin, director of architecture, infrastructure, engineering and construction for Asia Pacific at Autodesk,

While lauding the skills of engineers in Australia as well as the maturity of the country’s BIM market, Malkin noted that “we’re immature in some respects in the BIM for infrastructure space.”

“Australia needs clear communications and road maps in delivering BIM from both federal and state governments,” said Malkin. “The use of new technology can open up new funding models by the lowering of risk that BIM brings to projects.”

Australia’s lagging uptake of BIM with respect to infrastructure projects in particular could bode poorly for their long-term development, given the increasingly critical role that the technology plays in life cycle asset management.

“We have no mandated policies to drive the effective usage of BIM across the whole of the infrastructure asset life cycle in Australia,” said Bentley Systems industry solutions director John Taylor.

“Given the focus on government infrastructure delivery in Australia, particularly in the transport sector, the federal and state governments need to provide leadership requiring their requirements for BIM to deliver and manage infrastructure more effectively and efficiently.

“Effective BIM strategies for major infrastructure have been proven to reduce whole of life infrastructure costs enhance project delivery.”