On February 26, 2015, the British government finally defined what BIM Level 3 is and informed the world about it. With this announcement, a new British third-level information modeling program (BIM Level 3) was officially launched, which was loudly called Digital Built Britain. Those who implement BIM projects in construction and engineering may have heard about this news – let’s understand this in more detail!
Explanation of BIM levels
You may think that this does not concern you in any way, but believe me, it’s a big misconception. Even if BIM is not your topic, and you are not at all interested in understanding its levels, nevertheless, level 3 is about the near future of our common world, about how construction projects will be planned and built, how they will be operated under conditions the functioning of the construction industry in digital format. To understand the importance of BIM level 3 in the British classification, I suggest starting from Level 0.
Once upon a time, back in 2008, at the request of one of their clients, Mark and Mervin literally on a napkin in the form of a diagram represented their vision of BIM maturity levels.
Level 0. “Unmanaged CAD”
They started literally from scratch, the state where there is no organized interaction between members of the project team, and the work is carried out in 2D drawing mode. Completed drawings, mainly through paper or electronic form of paper, are transferred to stakeholders. Text documentation also, mainly in paper form, was shared between the participants in the process, although it is produced on a computer.
Level 1. “Managed CAD”
At this level, along with 2D, three-dimensional graphics already appear, and the design data is distributed electronically through the Common Data Environment, specified by the British standard BS 1192: 2007. However, there is no full-fledged interaction between participants belonging to different disciplines. This level of collaboration has been achieved in the designing and construction of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. The expectations of the participants did not come true. Productivity gains were achieved in comparison with unorganized forms of work at the level of 10%.
Level 2. “Federated BIM”
This level of work assumes full interaction and full-fledged teamwork of the project participants. Moreover, each team member develops a three-dimensional model of his own discipline, being fully responsible for it, and then interdisciplinary coordination performs in special environments. Collisions are identified and eliminated; design solutions are verified, etc. The software implementation of such an environment can be Autodesk Navisworks, Solibri Model Checker, Bentley Navigator. The most important condition is to operate in accordance with BS 1192: 2007 with a common data environment. At this level, such an organized interaction can provide up to 50% reduction in project overhead.
Level 3. “Integrated BIM”
Until now, this level seemed to be something “blurred”, not well-defined, the ultimate dream, when full interaction between disciplines was realized through the cooperative use of a single project model stored in a single central repository. All participants can access the model, and the risk of conflict situations is minimized.
A special working group (BIM Task Group) was formed, led by Mark Bew, who was tasked to develop the necessary standards and protocols for the work. Moreover, all of them should be available to everyone absolutely free of charge. After all, the lion’s share of the market is represented by small and medium-sized businesses.
A list of seven documents was compiled where everything that needs to be explained to the industry for successful work is determined. Five are ready and everyone can find them in the public domain, and two missing components are currently in development.
How BIM Level 2 helped save millions?
During the last two years before 2016, pilot projects carried out under the government order for BIM level 2 technologies showed a 20% reduction in construction costs compared to similar projects in 2009-2010. In absolute terms, savings for 2013-2014 were £ 840 million. In 2015, with the use of BIM level 2 technologies, the expected savings were £ 1.2 billion. Not surprising that the fresh British experience just gained from pilot projects has inspired and excited many countries. The countries of the European Union, for example, want to make level 2 a standard for government orders with established thresholds already in 2017, and by 2018 add another 30% of contracts to this number. Some individual EU countries, especially France and Germany, have already announced programs similar to the UK.
Benefits of Digital Built Britain
The achieved successes coincided with the release of the Global Construction Report 2025, in which the growth of the construction market is predicted at 70%. The main growth will be shown by the Asian and EMEA markets, where historically British companies are strongly represented. As a result, statements are being issued claiming global leadership in digital construction.
And then we learn that BIM TASK Group resources are being transferred to the next level – the third. The development of construction and design methodology in digital format has begun at a new qualitative level. BIM Level 3 (Digital Built Britain) program started.
This development was carried out in parallel with two other strategies:
- Smart cities representing smart systems for transport, energy, healthcare, water supply, and waste recycling;
- “Information economy” which deals with high-performance computing, the Internet, in the form of automatic sensors for process automation, etc.
These technologies will change our lives and the world we are living in. Digital Built Britain’s strategy ultimately provided a vision of a highly productive, transparent economy that effectively serves the needs of its citizens. The ability to measure the parameters of the functioning of the completed object and compare them with the requirements established in the terms of reference, as well as with the parameters with which the object was put into operation, helps to significantly improve the conditions for its use.
The ability to collect, process, and analyze huge amounts of data about objects from designers, builders, and maintenance services of buildings and structures and from various sectors of construction opens up unprecedented opportunities for long-term improvement of the functioning of the object. Level 3 would contain the Level 2 data exchange process, but data definitions would be refined and processes expanded, including model types that can be shared at key stages in the life cycle.
The authors of the new, future-oriented BIM strategy for the UK, BIM Level 3 or Digital Built Britain, defined the benefits that society will receive from the implementation of a qualitatively new level of BIM:
- Substantial savings on government purchases;
- Fast and wide implementation of step-by-step changes in the productivity of the construction industry, increasing its efficiency;
- Optimization of building management, life cycle savings, in particular from reducing energy consumption;
- Safe use of open data in a controlled manner;
- Benefits for UK companies from international adoption of standards and protocols;
Providing new opportunities for related areas: “Smart” cities and “smart” energy systems, manufacturing, cybersecurity, new materials.
BIM Level 3 – Coming Soon
In the construction industry, the emergence and development of new business models are expected, transforming the structure of the industry itself, the cost will decrease, and people with completely new skills and knowledge will be in demand than today. It is necessary to upgrade the skills of specialists and BIM Level 3 would emerge. We should also completely change our way of thinking and approach to construction technologies. To achieve BIM Level 3 we need a few more years. But we believe that working together, we will achieve this very shortly.