A new public-private BIM initiative will seek to foster better understanding of the technology within the AEC sector, as well as ensure greater consistency of methods and approaches across Australia.

The establishment of the National BIM Advisory Board is expected to accelerate adoption of the technology across the AEC sector by providing a unified platform for coordination and discussion between regional organizations around Australia.

The new nationwide BIM initiative is a public-private collaboration between the government’s Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) and the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF), with other participating groups including buildingSMART, Collaborate ANZ and NATSPEC.

The board will be discussed at this year’s RTC event (May 12-14), where work to date will be presented by APCC and ACIF. NATSPEC, buildingSMART and Collaborate ANZ will also conduct presentations on their current work and how they will be coordinating with the National BIM Advisory Board.

Belinda Hodkinson, the recently appointed chair of Collaborate ANZ, said to Sourceable that a key focus of the National BIM Advisory Board will be fostering collaboration between various industry members and groups around the country.

“What they want to do is establish a leading group that has a national focus and encourage various parties to work together to further BIM usage, as opposed to having several different groups or state-wide organizations working independently,” said Hodkinson.

“They want to ensure that it’s a nationwide approach and that we’re all sharing ideas with each other. The emphasis is on collaboration – they don’t want to be a dictatorship, and instead want everyone to become involved.”

The National BIM Advisory Board will play a crucial role in ensuring that BIM approaches and terminology remain consistent throughout Australia – an area of vital importance given that one of the core advantages of the technology is facilitating the sharing of information and coordination between multiple project stakeholders.

“We’re finding that the different terminology used around the globe is affecting Australia’s BIM approach. So many people are coming here and delivering the same message yet defining it in different ways, because they’ve heard it from either the US, the UK or other regions,” said Hodkinson.

Facilitating coordination between Australia’s various BIM bodies will enable them to work together to achieve greater consistency, as well as avoid reduplication of work.

“Multiple groups will fall under the advisory board, including NATSPEC, Collaborate ANZ, buildingSMART and they will assist in driving some of these more granular items.

“Bringing them all together within the same hierarchy means that they’re communicating and coordinating, so you won’t have multiple industry or BIM groups trying to do the same thing differently because each thinks they can do it better.

“We can instead assign responsibility for a given area to one group over a twelve month period, for example, and request that they coordinate with other people.”

In addition to facilitating unified coordination between BIM groups around the country, another key role of the advisory board will be to provide guidance and education to industry about the best methods for the procurement and implementation of BIM.

Hodkinson believes providing consistent, nationwide guidance on BIM usage will help members of industry improve their use of the technology and achieve desired outcomes.

“At the moment we’re hearing from a lot of people that BIM is costing much more money when it actually shouldn’t.” she said.

“We’re trying to go back and provide standards and guidelines when it comes to BIM performance – what it is you need to deliver in terms of the particular outcome that you want for your site, asset or facility.

“These guidelines are more advisory as opposed to being standardised benchmarks, because we still want to give everybody an innovative, flexible approach – we don’t want to lock them into set criteria or ways of doing things.

The advisory board will also provide educational standards to members of industry so that they can determine whether or not they possess all the knowledge required to make prudent decisions about BIM implementation.

“We’re currently working on an education framework around competencies, knowledge and skills that people need to cover.” said Hodkinson. “This will also blend with some of the BIM courses that are already out there and help to upgrade them as well.”