It's hardly surprising that we're currently seeing BIM evolve into information management. After all, properly executed information management processes mean that the right people can access the correct information at the right time. Something absolutely critical in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries at all project stages.
Mail Manager recently partnered with BIM+ for a webinar, "Information management: The importance of the 'I' in BIM", where we were joined by Kelly Lee, Building Safety Leader at Orbit Housing, and Lawrence Chapman, Lead Information Manager at HS2. You can watch the webinar on-demand here.
The Building Safety Act 2022
The Building Safety Act 2022 sets out the new safety requirements for higher-risk buildings. Higher-risk buildings have been defined as at least 18m or 7 storeys high, with two or more residential units. For the AEC, the Act creates "a clear, proportionate framework for the design, construction and management of safer, high-quality homes in years to come".
The Act primarily focuses on the safety and standards of all buildings, improving the way higher-risk buildings are managed and delivered at every step of the project lifecycle, ensuring clear standards and guidelines are adhered to and ensuring that residents are at the heart of building safety.
For the AEC, this means that there is now a formal responsibility for complying with building regulations, reducing risk and maintaining a Golden Thread of Information, or a Single Source of Truth.
How BIM can be leveraged to achieve the golden thread of information
Orbit Housing is one of the largest builders of affordable homes in the UK, with an operational area spanning the Midlands, East and South East. They strive to ensure that their new homes and developments are sector-leading and their homes are always delivered to the highest possible standards.
In their line of work, Orbit Homes utilise BIM on their projects. Kelly Lee's role as Building Safety Leader at Orbit Housing is to embed the golden thread of information across the organisation. A particular project that Kelly was involved in was an estate of three tower blocks. Using the latest surveillance technologies, they utilised BIM to achieve the golden thread of information.
Kelly explained, "The project allowed us to understand our estate better, leading to smarter and quicker repairs, enhanced customer service, better maintenance piling, and more innovative investment assessment. Ultimately, we leveraged BIM to improve internal data management, digitally transforming all Orbit Group's departments."
When embarking on this project, Orbit Housing had three main questions:
Did they have records of their high-risk buildings and know the locations of critical equipment on all their estates?
Could they access and trust the current information about their estates and handle the increased amount of information acquired from BIM?
Did they have adequate fire information for the Building Safety Act, and are their buildings structurally sound?
As you can imagine, maintaining this information can be challenging for an organisation working across several projects at any time and with many estates. And with the Building Safety Act and new fire safety mandates, maintaining a golden thread of information is critical.
Kelly explained, "We have produced a management plan, which is a golden thread management plan, and it's interlinking across the whole organisation. It utilises all of the information that we receive from BIM. Obviously, that is very data-driven, which is the biggest part of the golden thread."
Information management on the HS2 mega project
Lawrence Chapman, Lead Information Manager at HS2, also joined us. HS2 is the largest infrastructure project in Europe to date, and as you can imagine, it has many moving parts. Lawrence described that the mega project involves:
330 miles of new high-speed track, carrying trains at 300KMH, nearly 1/3 of which will be tunnels
Over 100 bridges will be built, as well as green bridges, owl posts and mammal crossings
Building the longest viaduct in the UK, diverting hundreds of utilities out of the way, as well as roads, bridleways and footpaths
It truly is a mammoth project, and with this comes a massive information management challenge. HS2 has a wide and diverse supply chain, all of which have varying levels of maturity, different ways of working and different file formats. Not all follow the latest ISO 19650 standards, and there are challenges around cost and programme vs quality. With the latest compliance requirements, it has been critical for HS2 to address these information management challenges.
Lawrence explained that they have very complex processes and technologies in place to ensure that they maintain a golden thread of information. Lawrence described his role as "to make sure that we are constantly vigilant around the quality of data that has been submitted by contractors, and making sure we have got close integration between commercial and technical teams, to ensure we're supplying information the right way." These include:
Collaboration and having a good relationship with their supply chain, BIM leaders and information management leaders across suppliers
Common standards and ways of working and exchanging information
Detailed information exchange requirements
Strong technical assurance culture
Information delivery packaging
Lawrence explained that the asset database for HS2 is their golden thread. "Every piece of information we need to exchange needs to relate back to the asset ID so that the asset hierarchy relates right away. For something like a station, down to a platform dealing with a signal post, every single component needs to have its unique asset ID. Every document we exchange needs to relate to having that asset ID associated with it. And every object or component within the BIM model needs to have that asset information."
"Where we have so many different parties exchanging information with each other, we need to make sure the interface management is clearly defined between those parties. When is that information going to be exchanged? How is it going to be exchanged? What are the constraints on each other that we need to regulate and manage?"
A missing piece of the information management puzzle... Email!
At Mail Manager, we work with big and small organisations that face similar challenges regarding their information management. And as we heard on the webinar from Orbit Housing and HS2, these challenges are common right throughout the AEC industry. It's no real surprise that with most teams working in a hybrid environment, it's becoming more challenging to access project information and ensure that teams follow information management processes.
We find that while firms are stringent about how their documents and contracts are managed, email is the one thing everyone manages differently. Without the right tools and automation in place, project teams are left to their own devices, which creates enormous risks, including project delays, unnecessary reworks, and sometimes, can lead to a dispute.
Information is the lifeblood of all project work, but only if it's well-organised, accessible and up-to-date. Losing access to essential emails can prove detrimental to businesses, and when they're not included in your overall information management strategy, it can prove detrimental.
When emails are managed correctly, everyone in an organisation has access to the information they need to make the right decisions at the right time. It provides a much better way of working, encourages more transparent communications and ensures that all team members have access to a single source of truth. Plus, it removes the responsibility of storing and managing data from one person or department.
It's time to take control of your inbox. For more information on how Mail Manager, the Outlook solution developed by Arup, can help, book a demo with our team today.