Boulting Environmental Services
For many years, the construction industry was said to be behind the times in adopting new technology.
While the automotive, energy and
aerospace industries evolved and
incorporated concepts such as Industry
4.0, construction was left behind.
In 2011, the U.K. Government
formed a new mandate calling for the
construction and infrastructure sectors
to adopt the Building Information
Modeling (BIM) concept as a way of
changing the dynamics and behaviors
of the industry. By incorporating
BIM Level 2, the government hoped
to trigger a revolution in the sector
and welcome a new era of digital
But what does this mean for the
businesses working with this new breed
of construction company?
WHAT IS BIM?
BIM is all about integration. It is a
concept that manages information from
a variety of sources linked with the construction, renovation or demolition of a
building. The key output of the process
is a digital model of the building. The
level of detail within this drawing is
dependent on the criteria the developer
To encourage collaboration as part of
the build process and improve the overall standard of the final project, the UK
Government introduced a level system.
Ranging from zero to three, each new
level represents an increased degree of
collaboration between suppliers.
In this context, BIM acts as a quality
control tool and is quickly becoming
part of the brief for many projects.
Up until 2011, Level 0 represented
the way in which many construction
companies operated. At this level, there
is no collaboration between suppliers,
as each one works independently. A
standard outcome for Level 0 is a simple
2-D CAD drawing, with no detail about
the functionality of a building.
A slight improvement on Level 0,
Level 1 requires a minimal level of collaboration, with all organizations using
both a 3-D CAD drawing to define the
concept of work and a 2-D version for
approvals and product information.
Level 2 requires a greater level of collaboration on a build project, with suppliers
using 3-D CAD models, but not necessarily
the same one. Information sharing is integral
to this standard, allowing organizations to
include additional data in their own model.
In 2016, the U.K. Government set Level 2 as
a minimum standard for all its public-sector
work. If a business cannot provide evidence
of how it will incorporate collaboration within the program of work, it will not be successful in the tendering process.
Seen as the gold standard of construc-
tion, Level 3 represents collaboration across
all areas of the build process, using a single
shared model that all parties have access to.
BIM IN PHARMACEUTICALS
When building cleanrooms and laboratories, there are many more factors to be
taken into consideration than in a conventional office. With working parts built into
the structure of a room, an object-orientat-ed database needs to be created detailing
exactly how equipment works. A simple
2-D CAD drawing does not offer the level
of detail required, causing problems when
the facility is constructed. The drawings
require a level of intelligence, providing
specifics on movement and operational
functionality. These specifics not only
assist with the build, but also ongoing
Many pharmaceutical projects fluctuate between Level 2 and Level 3. While
BIM promotes best practice, it’s important to involve the client as early as possible to see to what extent they will use
the model post-build.
Although many within the pharmaceutical sector can see the benefits of
BIM, some are reluctant to embrace it.
This is attributed to a lack of understanding of the concept.
While there is a natural progression
toward the standard, a debate has emerged
about when to train people on BIM. Up until
now, the process has evolved organically, and
it will continue to do so as people introduce
the skills to those entering the sector.
Soon we will reach critical mass where
decision makers are educated in BIM
and incorporate it in all their projects.
BENEFITS TO THE PHARMA SECTOR
One of the key benefits of incorporating
BIM into a pharmaceutical build is the ability
to detect clashes and extract data from the
model. With a 2-D model, it is very easy to
miss clashes, which can cause severe problems when the facility is in construction. A
3-D CAD model allows users to de-risk construction, minimalizing problems on-site.
The software encourages people to
work in a different way, putting greater
emphasis on services such as electricity,
water, and in the case of cleanrooms,
ventilation, cooling and heating.
BIM is a powerful tool for showing
clients exactly how their facility will
work. It can provide users with almost
photographic images of the proposed
facility. This process also means that
builders could potentially work off-site
and pre-fabricate certain elements of the
build, which can then be installed later.
BIM ensures that all the pre-fabricated
elements will fit perfectly with the pre-in-stalled elements. Without BIM, the idea of
pre-fabricating a build would not be possible. The process can not only save time
and money, but the client is also left with a
cleaner site throughout the build.
The seeds of revolution have been
sown in the construction industry,
but for the BIM concept to be truly
embraced, suppliers must continue to
educate and inform clients of its benefits, post-construction.
Neil Pulman is the principal architect
at Boulting Environmental Services, where
he is responsible for assembling the correct
teams for a variety of projects and unites
both the technical and the aesthetic aspirations of clients into a building that is operationally correct and both pleasant to occupy
and look at. He also holds a Post Graduate
Diploma in Architecture from the University
of Huddersfield. www.besltd.org
Standardizing pharmaceutical builds
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