New Belfast Met BIM qualification developed with Creagh Concrete

Belfast Met have developed the first of their BIM qualifications in partnership with leading Northern Ireland construction company Creagh Concrete.

BIMcert are already delivering upskilling to blue collar workers and are now delivering a trial Level 4 EQF equivalent qualification. The partnership with Creagh Concrete demonstrates how the BIMcert project is developing industry led qualifications.

Creagh sought to develop a BIM academy to enable the upskilling of their staff as they transition to a BIM workflow within the company. For Creagh Concrete a company established in 1976 and one of the most innovative producers of concrete products BIM is a must have in 2018.

Lorna Mc Mullan, Director, Creagh Concrete acknowledged the importance of BIM Academy saying: “In 2015 Creagh Concrete recognised that BIM modelling would represent an improved technology and process change which would add real value to our business. Creagh made a commitment to implement BIM within our company and focus on upskilling our existing staff.”

Creagh operate from their head office in Toomebridge, Co Antrim with bases in Hoveringham and Edinburgh. Creagh concrete has a number of specialist divisions working within each sector of the construction industry. The companys core range is precast and prestressed flooring. The work includes car parks, residential, railways, education, commercial and residential.

The UK government Construction Strategy 2016-2020 reinforces BIM as an integral focus of the strategy with a aim of boosting productivity and collaboration through the use of technology, (digital construction).

BIM enables the digital construction of a project in the form of a construction data enriched 3D model based process. This enables improved collaboration between all parties. The learner gets an understanding in the practice of 3D modelling for building information modelling. This includes architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical work.

Lorna Mc Mullan added: “Having developed a new qualification for CAD Construction Detailing with the Construction and the Built Environment curriculum area in 2015, Creagh have shortlisted a strong working partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College. The CAD Academy launched in 2016 and has been a very positive step to reducing the current technical skills gap within our industry.

“Based on the reputation and performance of this academy, Creagh sought to develop a similar BIM academy to enable the upskilling of their existing staff as they transition to a BIM workflow within the company. Creagh Concrete is delighted to support and deliver this new qualification in partnership with Belfast Met and offer our staff the opportunity to gain a qualification in BIM. This will further assist the integration of BIM workflows with the company’s supply and installation projects across the UK and Ireland.”

Creagh Concrete a company 42 years in existence have embraced the fact that BIM is a key emerging technology within the construction industry, with rapidly expanding usage across the sector.

Monitoring Building Performance

Kate Moss is a model, who knows how to perform. The fashion industry understands this and recalls that back in 1990, supermodel Linda Evangelista uttered what has become the most famous quote in modelling history: “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day” showing what a lean machine she and Kate could be. Her intelligence  is that she knows how to work a runway, how to show a garment in its best light and to capture that moment for the Haselblad, clicking her every move. A model who cannot perform, is not a model for very long.

Performance is key to the construction sector too, where increasingly a building which cannot perform is not an asset but a drain on the economy, society and our precious planet; Earth. Rewarding better buildings, better constructions and better methods is not easily done and our current practices do not reflect this either. Finding new ways to encourage this and to demand it requires a new mindset and Building Information Modelling (BIM) offers a platform for this to happen. BIM is not a technique but rather an overarching support system providing a place or a stage on which all stakeholders can perform and excel in their roles, producing both new environments and retrofitting old ones.

Build 4.0, the Internet of Things and the Blockchain all offer new and exciting opportunities to progress a better, more sustainable world and to reward better performance, which patently did not exist before. The industrial model for procuring a project is still based on working with small margins, usually the lowest tender wins the contract. This sets the landscape for litigious conflicts, change orders and delays making the industry the worst performing sector in terms of productivity across all activities from automobiles to agriculture.

Similarly, there is little or no Evidence-Based Design (EBD) meaning designs are often architectural whims with no data to back them up. Brandenburg Airport in Berlin, started in 2008 and expected to open in 2012 at a cost of €1.2 billion, still has only hardhats on site. It has no completion date with many saying it would be easier to tear it down and start afresh. It is six times over budget, and has 66,500 building errors in need of fixing (Economist 2017).

At The Copenhagen School of Design & Technology (KEA) we use BIM-360 to provide a cloud-based solution. The students, working in groups of four use a whole semester to procure a project, collaborating through Problem-Based Learning (PBL), to provide the architectural deliverables, the structural and mechanical deliverables, the economy and contractual basis with specifications and tender packages. The 3D model is produced in Autodesk Revit and is overlaid with structural and MEP models. Next it is parsed into Sigma Estimates where the quantities are priced against a price book providing the 5D model (resources).

Next this model is exported to Microsoft Project where the 4D (time) can be modelled in a Gant chart. Here there is work back and forth in three interlinked models to fine tune the operation. Exporting the Revit model to NavisWorks allows the MS Project data to be applied, so that a time line can be animated and saved as a movie. Clash detection can also happen here. We are also assessing RIB’s iTWO software which brings the 4D and 5D under one roof, which additionally can map the budgeted spend against actual workflows so that bottle-necks and liquidity can be controlled.

With regard to circular ecology; waste, CO2 and energy need to be evaluated. Making Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) and Life Cycle Costings (LLC) better inform design decisions and impact the above processes. Next is to find metrics that reward such practices. One is to make an embodied carbon price book using GtCO2e. Another is to transfer the 3D Model from objects to assets so that Facilities Management (FM) processes can be applied. Changes to the contractual model mean looking at Integrated Project Deliveries (IPD), where Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE) also comes to the fore using handheld devices.

Sidechains, a subset of the Blockchain means that if a tender package claims to deliver benefits, through the life cycle of the facility, which now can be sensored and monitored through its life, then it can be accountable. If savings occur, they can be rewarded by paying out a dividend from the accrued saving, each and every year in which it happens. Making an argument along these lines encourages better practices and, more importantly, rewards better procedures.

Dr James HARTY
BArch MArchSc PPCert PGCert PhD RIBA MAA

Copenhagen School of Design & Technology
Prinsesse Charlottesgade 38,
Copenhagen, DK-2200


M +45 2148 7035

CITB Presentation at BSi BIM Belfast Conference

The British Standards Institute (BSi) hosted a conference in Belfast bringing together experts from industry, practice and academia to debate key topics, to develop innovative solutions, and predict future trends. The conference included a range of presentations from Norman Foster & Partners, Copenhagen Airport, Schiphol Airport and Crossrail.  Barry Neilson (CITB NI’s Chief Executive and BIMCert Project member) also presented on the findings and work being developed within the BIMCert project.

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Almost 150,000 Construction workers required across the UK and Ireland alone by 2021

The Irish Construction industry needs an additional 112,000 Construction Workers up to 2020, the UK needs an additional 35,740 across the industry up to 2021.

A skilled workforce is necessary to support the current growth in the European construction sector. More school leavers are currently choosing to enter the sector, with approximately 13,000 taking up apprenticeships in 2017. However, school leavers alone will not be enough to fulfil the appetite of a rapidly growing industry. There are several strategies needed to fill the gap.

  • A structured process (BIM)
  • Attract newcomers
  • Increase diversity
  • Retention

BIM allows us to do more with less, spending less time doing repetitive tasks which can often be automated. This means that our time is spent adding real value to the projects we are involved with. This cannot be achieved without training, BIM and Digital Construction is constantly evolving and it is only by keeping up to date that we can achieve the biggest benefits. BIM allows visual sequencing and planning on projects which ensures that the right materials and tools are available at the right time. The new standard ISO19650; Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) provides clarity about BIM in a global sense, by having guidance at an international level it allows for a greater understanding and transfer of skills across Europe and the world.

Attracting newcomers to the construction industry exacerbates the requirement for the provision of training. The work that the BIM Cert project is doing is vital to allow those who are either upskilling from within their current roles or wishing to transition from other industries to undertake training in a method that is flexible, achievable and valuable. It also provides a route for re-entry to the workplace, a relatively untapped resource.

The importance of the increase of diversity in Construction and the effect of this cannot be underestimated. To take an example, Women comprise 46% of the total workforce in the U.K. However, this figure drops to 12% of the total construction industry workforce, professionals make up 5% and 1% in skilled trades. This indicates a difference of 34% potential workers who may be available to the construction industry. By increasing these numbers, we should be able to support the level of workers needed. In my work with Women in BIM we have identified that attraction and retention are the main barriers to increasing those figures. The hope is that by increasing the visibility of women and minority groups in construction, we can help to resolve those issues, but it is also worth noting that without adequate training solutions it will be impossible to attract or retain people within the construction industry.

Louise Kelly, ACB Group, Global Vice Chair of Women in BIM

Instituto Superior Técnico visits the Centre for Professional Training in Construction

IST is doing  important work at a national level in Portugal to support the introduction of BIM into the existing training programs for professionals. The objective is to create new and updated certifications for the industry, which should be aligned with the BIMcert framework. In this sense, IST is working to establish several partnerships with centres for professional training and the National Institute of Employment and Professional Training. In our photographs you can see images from our last visit to the Centre for Professional Training in Construction (CENFIC), which wants to upgrade the existing certifications to include BIM. Antonio Aguiar Costa, from BIMcert partner IST , said: “It was fantastic to see the motivation of CENFIC’s Director and his team towards the modernization of the training  and certification programs. Digital competencies are increasingly important and a major concern for the industry. Human resources must be updated and be prepared for the new paradigm as soon as possible.”

By Antonio Aguiar Costa