BIM has enormous potential to cut construction costs in Africa

5 April 2017
Building Information Modelling (BIM) has enormous potential in Africa’s Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry to reduce capital and operational costs, and boost the quality of construction projects, says Craig Howie, BIM Manager at AECOM Africa.
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AECOM Africa has been an early adopter of BIM since 2010. “As of 2014, all of our new projects within the Buildings + Places department are executed by our engineers and architects, with BIM-enabling software like Autodesk Revit and Civil 3D as a standard. Making this shift from a traditional manual 2D CAD drafting approach to a 3D information-rich parametric approach has been a key driver in our adoption of BIM processes,” Howie comments.

On a global scale, AECOM is the largest licensee of the world’s leading BIM software providers, such as Autodesk, Bentley and Trimble. In Africa, AECOM is able to leverage its local BIM capabilities both on high-profile projects on the continent and internationally.

Howie is BIM Manager for a multi-disciplinary AECOM consulting engineering team in Africa, comprising architects, structural, civil and MEP engineers, and sustainability and quantity surveyors. “We have set up a BIM task team to facilitate BIM processes within our business, so that designers and project delivery teams can deliver the best solutions to our clients.”

“AECOM’s international teams are driving a significant number of innovative initiatives with BIM and Digital Project Delivery, and are leaders in BIM, including delivering projects to BIM Level 3 maturity or 7D (facilities management).

“Locally, we are focusing on optimising fully-integrated BIM models across all disciplines for our 3D, 4D (time scheduling), 5D (cost estimating) and 6D (sustainability) offering. We are also currently aligning our standards with BIM Level 2 maturity, according to BS1192 and the emerging ISO19650 BIM standard,” Howie elaborates.

“BIM technology is advancing at such a rapid rate it is imperative for us to keep up to date, in order to be able to deliver the best possible solutions for our clients,” Howie stresses. “We are also now starting to experiment with virtual reality and augmented reality.”

In terms of the challenges facing BIM deployment in an African context, Howie highlights the biggest as “getting the public sector on-board and up-to-speed with BIM, which is a mammoth task within the current African socio-economic climate.” He adds that BIM is a ‘team sport’, which means that “best-practice collaboration is at the core of a BIM process. Therefore it is important for people to be good team players.”

AECOM’s strategy for BIM deployment in Africa focuses on three key areas, namely people, processes, and technology. “People have to be upskilled, traditional ways of doing things challenged, and standard BIM guidelines and content have to be developed continually for, at time, uniquely African considerations,” Howie argues.

“Behind all of this, the most valuable asset we have is not the BIM enabling software itself, or the processes and standards we have in place, but rather the skills and experience of our people on our projects,” he concludes.


Notes to the editor
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