Given the huge transformational potential of BIM, it is surprising that take-up in Ireland isn’t almost universal. Industry experts argue that upskilling and cultural change are vital to encourage adoption. So, how can these levers be used to influence BIM uptake across the architecture, construction and engineering (ACE) industries in Ireland today?

Current BIM take-up in Ireland

In 2019, the Construction IT Alliance (CitA) and NBS took the temperature of BIM take-up in Ireland, reporting a healthy headline adoption figure of 76%. However, a deeper delve into the results revealed a divide between larger firms undertaking public sector and commercial projects, and SMEs undertaking small, one-off housing projects.

Typically, larger firms were embracing BIM, while SMEs weren’t. This may, in part, reflect the public-sector focus of the government’s 2017 statement of intent to increase the use of digital technologies – but it’s also likely that project and practice size are factors.

It’s probable that clients of small, one-off housing projects are less likely to be aware of, and to request, BIM. As a result, SMEs are less likely to use BIM; in 2019, 56% of practices with 15 employees or fewer had adopted BIM, compared with at least 80% of practices with more than 15 staff. Today, there’s no evidence that this industry divide has changed.

What can shift the dial on these levels of take-up? Interestingly, the CitA survey highlighted a role for education; when it came to reasons for not using BIM, 74% cited a lack of in-house expertise and 67% felt there was a lack of training.

A reluctance to embrace cultural change

Running parallel to this lack of training and expertise is another interesting phenomenon – a hesitation around embracing BIM and the wide-ranging work practice changes it brings. A revolutionary collaboration tool, BIM’s digital model gives the ACE disciplines a point of unity.

And unlocking the full range of BIM benefits involves wholehearted collaboration, but this can be offputting for individuals or firms that aren’t fully up-to-speed on how to adapt their ways of working.

This can lead to slowed adoption, as Dr Malachy Matthews, senior lecturer at technology University Dublin, highlighted: “Collaboration is about people and attitude and accepting a challenge to existing processes. That’s where the problem lies; it’s not the applications – it’s the mental space and whether you’re prepared to go there”.

It is true that BIM adoption, and the greater collaboration it fosters, can ‘force’ significant change to a discipline. Take design, for example: a BIM application hardens up the design process very quickly, replacing the fluidity of mood boards and sketched designs with definitive materials and plans early on in the process. This has clear benefits for budgeting and clarifying the client’s vision, but requires a fundamental change to the designer’s approach.

BIM education in Ireland today

It’s important to recognise the extent to which training and education in BIM and associated skills are already embedded into Ireland’s construction landscape. 2020 research revealed widespread up-take of the certification BSI Kitemark for BIM Level 2, along with NSAI EN ISO 19650-2 and BRE BIM Level 2 Business Systems and, today, there’s a thriving BIM education sector across a variety of levels at 15 centres across Ireland.

A growing number of individuals in Ireland are choosing to study BIM at an advanced level, such as for the RICS BIM Manager, BRE Individual certification, or a postgraduate qualification, such as TU Dublin's MSc in Applied BIM and Management. This growing workforce of BIM-certified professionals will certainly speed up the adoption of BIM within Ireland, particularly as demand across customers and developers increases.

Wavin is harnessing BIM innovation in Ireland through its Revit content packages with integrated intelligent assistance. With this intelligent assistance an accurate installation model of a pipe system can be reached in BIM the fastest way possible.

This new way of working will significantly reduce time spent on design. The Wavin Revit packages will allow users to reach a 100% accurate representation of the way piping systems will actually be installed: easily and without the use of product catalogues.

The package also features a fully integrated Bill of Materials. Significantly faster to use than competitor packages, precise models can be created in a fraction of the time and be fed into a project earlier.

By automating key aspects of pipe system design, the intelligent assistance in the Wavin packages speeds the process and removes the risk of costly errors being made. Wavin is the only BIM content to feature a visual accuracy check. Find out more about how Wavin's BIM Revit files can save time and improve the design of your next project by visiting the BIM Centre here