Brazil and Digital Built Britain Visit

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018


Most countries around the world are keen to learn more about the UK’s BIM mandate, and Brazil is no exception. A delegation from the country recently visited the DMA offices to understand how being a small practice is no barrier to developing and implementing BIM methodologies.

Richard Lane is the Delivery Manager for International Development for the Centre for Digital Built Britain. The Government’s Digital Built Britain Programme is tasked with promoting UK BIM on a global scale by working collaboratively with specific countries. The intention is to help them affect their own version of what the UK has achieved in the last six years regarding the development of policies, strategy and the implementation plan for a national rollout.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Brazil has enabled the Digital Built Britain Programme to formalise collaboration and arrange for a government and industry delegation to visit the UK to learn about our BIM implementation programme. Having worked with Brazil for some time, it was an important step that meant they could meet with government clients in addition to companies within the industry to hear practical lessons.

The delegation consisted of representatives from a few of Brazil’s ministries plus their Chamber of Construction on the industry side. Presentations were given by Richard Lane, Adam Matthews, International Lead for the Centre for Digital Built Britain and public clients including Karen Alford of The Environment Agency. They also met with a number of companies, including DMA.

Richard Lane explained why companies like DMA are so important to the delegates and the knowledge gained:

“We don’t want our international groups to take our word for how BIM is being developed. We want them to get feedback from clients and industry – to see what BIM is really like and what’s been learned so they can develop their own strategy based on our experiences.

“For a broad knowledge, that has to include the small to medium companies that we knew were doing really good work with BIM, in addition to some of the bigger clients.”

The Brazil visit was a positive experience with the delegates hearing from many perspectives about how the BIM Mandate and strategy has worked, what it means for the UK, and how the transformation has started to occur.

Richard noted that:

“It was particularly interesting that the agenda we arranged with the different organisations and speakers resulted in the underlying theme and messaging being the same. Although the detail is unique to organisations, the delegates heard about the politics of BIM and how it is implemented in completely different ways.

“For large companies like Skanska, they had to think about organisational change management and the culture within the business, whereas, for DMA, the power of being small proved to have definite advantages. All companies are trying to achieve the same outcomes, but their approach is radically different.”

David Miller added:

“This year, I’ve spoken many times about the power of being small. For us, our biggest advantage lies in the fact that we are a small practice. We can adapt very quickly to changing environments and be flexible in our approach. This was the key message I wanted the delegation to understand; creating and benefitting from efficiencies is the same whether you’re a large organisation or a smaller one; it’s simply a question of how you make BIM work for you.”

To know that companies of all sizes with different implementation strategies are embracing BIM, realising the benefits and hearing the same thing from clients was very positive for the delegation. They met with speakers that had no pre-planning or scripting of what they had to say, but they reinforced the messages the Digital Built Britain Programme have been providing for the last few months.

There is a hope that the rationale for the building blocks of principles embedded in the UK’s BIM Level 2 will be included in Brazil’s approach. This could have benefits for trade, as will the European conversation with buildingSMART and the CEN Standards Committee around standards. The development of the ISO and how it provides a framework for countries to start developing a national implementation has many benefits.

It should be noted that countries aren’t saying “let’s do BIM”, they are using this as a critical component of bigger initiatives like economic development, transparency, and improving the prosperity of a country.

The visit to the DMA offices provided the delegates with a hands-on feel and to see a live environment where BIM is practiced and how its structured around a collaborative methodology. Richard explained:

“David was great regarding his presentation of varied and practical project case studies. From the Lords Media Centre to the schools, the Anstey Barns to the residential projects, the fact that BIM applied to different types of projects, not constrained by size, gave the delegates a broad view.

“We tend to focus on mega-projects, but seeing everyday projects, including residential and commercial, that can gain significant value from BIM was invaluable. The practice has grown and been successful in part because of embracing BIM, but also due to the early adoption too.

“Good, small project case studies are emerging, and these are very important. The part of the industry we still need to engage with is SMEs, and if we have practices like the DMA that can demonstrate this works in that context, we will be closer to realising our goals