BIM adoption in Australia and its development is strictly connected with the British example, although autonomy for digital strategies has strengthened in recent years

It’s fair to say that levels of BIM adoption in Australia are varied and incoherent and this has driven both the public and private sectors to look to the UK for support and guidance regarding processes. Nonetheless, Building Information Modeling has considerably widespread in Australia between 2010 and 2018.

The construction industry productivity is fundamental to the economic growth of Australia. The construction sector accounts for 7.8% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 9.1% of its workforce. In 2012, during the peak phase of its economic boom, the construction sector generated $ 305 billion in total revenue, grossed $ 275.4 billion of total expenses and employed 950,000 people.

Some statistics that provide clear evidence of the benefits of BIM adoption in Australia have been presented in a study by the Allen Consulting Group. They estimated that accelerated adoption of BIM would increase Australian GDP growth by an additional 5 bps by 2025. And also, that the benefit/ cost ratio of early adoption of BIM would be around 10, i.e. for every $ 1,000 of investments there would be $ 10,000 benefits.

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The British example

In 2011 the United Kingdom institutions recognized the benefits of the use of BIM (see article “BIM maturity levels in the United Kingdom“) and announced an extraordinary plan that required funding from the central government to encourage is use and achieve level 2 in 2016.

As a member of the Commonwealth, Australia has always been influenced by England, including in the construction sector. The Australian authorities have followed with interest British progress in the construction digitization, introducing BIM gradually also in Oceania, to the point that Australia is now fully developing this sector.

The experiences assimilated from the United Kingdom have highlighted the opportunity to act by adopting a national organic approach, involving industries, local authorities and universities.

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Australians can take advantage of two favourable conditions:

  • the great world shortage of personnel with experience / knowledge of BIM
  • the proximity to the thriving Asian market

This is why some of the main Australian universities have for some time been training new technicians able to manage BIM and new technical trainee staff that could satisfy the growing requests from the dynamic Indian and Chinese construction world.

Some examples of BIM adoption in Australia

The Australian government demands BIM as a key requirement in all major calls for tenders, particularly the more complex or expensive ones. For this reason, BIM has widely been used for several recent government projects, such as the new Perth Stadium.

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Various studies on the potentiality of this sector in Australia show that it is possible to achieve:

  • an increase of 20% in building processes efficiency
  • billions of dollars savings thanks to working scheduling time reduction
  • savings in building maintenance costs
  • a decrease in litigation
  • better cooperation between the stakeholders involved

The Australian BIM market is expected to grow by $ 6.5 billion by 2020.

The strong digitization of the country is evident. For example, most of the national health agencies have included BIM requirements for new projects, such as for building the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

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BIM model of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital

BIM education and training are occurring across the entire construction sector in Australia and New Zealand and are targeted at different levels:

  • in design
  • in the whole construction industry
  • among architects, engineers, entrepreneurs and owners

The wide diffusion of BIM in the public sector has, consequently, led to an exponential growth of BIM projects also in the private sector. This has guaranteed advantages in terms of reduction of time and costs.

Three main organizations are promoting BIM in the construction sector in Australia:

  • Australasian Procurement and Construction Council Inc – APCC
  • Australian Construction Industry Forum – ACIF
  • Australasian Bim Advisory Board – ABAB

The APCC governmental council

The APCC (Australasian Procurement and Construction Council Inc) is a council whose members are responsible for governmental and ministerial institutions, which deal with construction and Territory government throughout Australia. The council is made up of 11 agencies, having authority even over the territory of Papua New Guinea, which is another associate member.

Over the past 50 years, the APCC has established itself as a leader in digitalization strategies and practices, in construction and in public asset management. The work of the APCC is focused on the innovation of infrastructure and building heritage, with increasingly efficient solutions, designed to create time and costs savings, and improve the quality of services for the communities of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

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The APCC promotes a cohesive environment among all operators in public procurement and manages national projects for the Council of Australian Governments.

In fact, the board has identified five strategic objectives to optimize the results in public tenders in the next five years (see copy 2012-2017 Strategic Plan):

  1. Better management and use of governmental resources
  2. Developing continuous updating/renovation ability in building processes
  3. Promoting digitization as a strategic function
  4. Buying in a smarter way and looking for new building solutions
  5. Improving jurisdictional cooperation between the various bodies

Furthermore, the APCC is developing initiatives to increase productivity, competitiveness and long-term sustainability for the construction industry.

ACIF – Australian Construction Industry Forum

The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) is the meeting place for leaders of the construction industry in Australia.

ACIF facilitates and supports an active dialogue between the main actors in residential and non-residential construction, in engineering construction, in industrial groups and in government agencies. Members are the most significant associations in the industry, covering the entire process of asset creation: design, cost planning, construction, building management, demolition and recovery.

The forum, supported by objectives and actions,  has identified seven key elements that industry and government could pursue to encourage and support the adoption of BIM. They are:

  1. People: behaviour and ability
  2. Digitization and contracting
  3. PTI / BIM protocols
  4. Resources management
  5. Information exchange and national object libraries
  6. Standards
  7. Technology

In addition, the Forum Forum has developed a number of resources to help clients, project managers and other participants in the process of asset creation to understand the benefits of collaboration in BIM processes.

The ACIF also provides a range of additional industry support, including the annual ACIF briefings, where key organizations meet to establish policies and tools to be offered to institutions.

The ABAB council – Australasian Bim Advisory Board

The ABAB  (Australasian Bim Advisory Board) was established by a state initiative to encourage the development of working methods and BIM standards at a national level.

Government, industry and academics leaders collaborate in this committee:

  • providing guidelines on the adoption of BIM and Project Team Integration (PTI),
  • aligning all the players in this sector and government, industry, academic world skills
  • promoting best practices, standards and requisites of BIM.

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The Chair of the Board, Michael Green, said:

“BIM adoption is on the rise and the Board believes that it will be business as usual in the foreseeable future. It’s estimated that Australia will spend around $207 billion on construction in 2016/17. By working together, government, industry and academia can maximise the value of BIM to deliver improved efficiencies and increased innovation in the management, design, construction and operational phases of a built asset”.

Mr Green said that the Board is focusing on two priority projects:

  • Exchange Information Requirements (EIR): will provide an essential basis to assistance to the Australian construction sector by creating a common framework and language for all those involved in the construction process
  • Intellectual Property Framework: will support this industry’s education and university across Australia
  • BIM Process Consistency: will identify and standardize the most important elements of BIM throughout Australia, promoting its benefits and eliminating waste in construction practices.

Finally, other projects and strategies for identifying the roles of stakeholders and their responsibilities in BIM processes are expected.

The results of these projects will help the construction industry to control new technologies, ensuring that the benefits of BIM will always be increasing both for existing asset management and for new buildings.

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