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Innovative UK Smart Grants
Bringing automation innovation to the UK construction industry
AutoBIM is a collaborative research and development project, funded by Innovate UK.
It aims to inspire and facilitate the adoption of building information modelling (BIM) systems in the construction industry.
Balfour Beatty PLC – The highly experienced team are leading the project, facilitating stakeholder engagement and supporting the project with real-life testing of the AutoBIM prototype.
White Frog Publishing Limited – Experts in BIM implementation and training, White Frog are ensuring that AutoBIM addresses industry challenges, complies with standards and is compatible with available BIM tools.
University of Hertfordshire, UK – The researchers are supporting the development of project implementation frameworks to facilitate efficient fusion of all the AutoBIM components.
- London, UK
BIM is a seamless, single platform, accessible to the whole construction project team, digitally detailing everything that relates to the design of the building. Everything is available throughout the project’s entire life cycle at the click of a button, streamlining processes and aiding decision making. In 2016, the Government announced that all publicly procured construction projects in the UK must use BIM.
AutoBIM is a set of digital solutions created to support BIM adoption, compliance and collaboration within construction companies.
The Government’s Construction-2025 task force lists BIM as a key element for achieving its goals of:
- Lowering costs by 30%
- Making delivery times 50% faster
- Lowering emissions by 50%
And achieving a 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials.
This is currently facing several challenges.
Dr Saheed Ajayi, Reader in Digital Construction and Project Management, explained: “The challenges companies are facing include the learning curve embracing the new technology and getting everyone involved to use it, the need to comply with set standards and codes of practice, and the need for sufficient information about the building to accompany its 3D representation.
“Companies do not know what format the information should be in and how much information to include – there is currently no standardisation. Through the research and innovation with Balfour Beatty PLC, we are pleased to present this solution to the industry.”
The AutoBIM project adopts a cross-disciplinary approach through the innovative combination of BIM and construction knowledge with expertise in machine learning (ML), big data analytics and software development.
The project involves the creation of an innovative tool (AutoBIM) as a plug-in to existing BIM models. This includes:
- Automated naming of the BIM model in a common data environment (CDE) approach (AutoBIMName): The AutoBIMName automates the naming of models and files through an intuitive plug-in tool within the BIM environment. It also automates the process of generating the Task Information Delivery Plan (TIDP) and Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP).
- Automated carbon calculator: The platform offers a consistent and practical solution for the measurement and optimisation of the embodied carbon of a building right from the design stage. The AutoBIM carbon calculator automatically links BIM data to embodied carbon data from the Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) database or through Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) information input by the users.
- AutoBIM design model health check: The platform supports design health check procedures and minimises project risk by identifying missing information early on. The automated process will assist design managers in carrying out their design health checks more consistently and effectively – using lessons learnt from project to project.
- Machine learning-enabled hazard tagging: Using a large repository of health and safety information, this platform automates the identification, tagging and reporting of health and safety risks associated with the construction of different building elements and components.
The AutoBIM carbon calculator – one of the four key project outputs – marks another step forward in Balfour Beatty’s journey to going beyond net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
The tool is currently being trialled across four of Balfour Beatty’s projects. During trials on live projects, using the tool has resulted in potential savings of up to 14% embodied carbon by enabling more informed design choices.
Following a phased roll-out across Balfour Beatty’s projects over the next six months, the AutoBIM carbon calculator will be available to the wider industry within the next 12 months. There are further plans to develop the calculator to measure the energy performance of products and materials post-completion.
Another output of the AutoBIM project that is already making significant impact is the Automated MIDP portal.
The portal has made it easier to automate manual processes – enhancing efficiency and improving data quality and consistency.
The tool clearly sets out and auto-populates what information needs to be produced on a project, when, and by whom, in alignment with the Exchange Information Requirements (EIR).
As an industry leader in the development and integration of BIM, the new automated software tool is yet another step forward in driving change and allowing the industry to fully realise and enjoy the benefits of BIM across complex infrastructure and building schemes.
Balfour Beatty has been using BIM for the last decade; drawing on our expertise and application of digital technologies. We’re proud to be collaborating with our partners to develop a solution which will benefit the industry as a whole, both clients and contractors alike.