BIM technology – a powerful tool to save lives

Building Information Modelling

Digitisation of the real world into virtual representations is ever increasing. Just as Google Maps has created a virtual representation of roads and places, Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process doing the same for the built environment.

BIMSafe NZ has applications for all vertical and horizontal construction projects, central and local government procurement agencies, health, and safety sector, along with architects, designers, engineers, and the technology sector.

Both vertical and horizontal infrastructure projects can greatly benefit from using a BIM model to design, plan, and digitally simulate the entire construction process in the virtual world prior to the actual construction.

A BIM model allows all stakeholders, designers, engineers, contractors, and even building users to collaborate in the model space to plan, coordinate, and mitigate building risk.

Currently in New Zealand, the construction Industry has the slowest uptake of technology, and subsequently has not made the same productivity gains as other sectors. The BIM Acceleration Committee (BAC) was set up by MBIE to increase the use of BIM in local construction, and the Government Procurement Guidelines now specify the use of BIM on all projects greater than $5 million.

The City Rail Link (CRL) project and Kiwi Rail are already making extensive use of BIM models to plan projects and mitigate construction risks.

The ability of BIM models to represent a construction process in the virtual world creates a unique opportunity to improve health and safety outcomes on construction sites. Designers and engineers can work with contractors and health and safety managers to identify specific project risks, and then utilise the design process to eliminate these risks, or flag them for when construction occurs. Design mitigation is the most effective and least costly method of improving health and safety outcomes.

Once construction begins, workers will be able to access the BIM models and visualise the risks flagged by the design process. This will enable them to make real time decisions on how to do a particular piece of work in a safe manner.

Set to bring about change

A newly launched project called BIMSafe NZ, is a $1.7 million three-year collaboration between the Canterbury Safety Charter’s Professional Services Working Group (PSWG) and the Building Innovation Partnership at the University of Canterbury and is funded by ACC’s Injury Prevention fund, MBIE’s Innovation fund, and in-kind contributions from the PSWG. The project aims to reduce construction injury and accident rates by changing industry behaviour in the way risks are identified and communicated throughout the lifetime of a facility.

Brad Sara, BIMSafe Advisory Group member and Head of Technology at Warren and Mahoney says; “The BIMSafe NZ project will be a step-change for how health and safety is procured and delivered in New Zealand. This will extend the capability of the health and safety design process into the realm of computer gaming.”

Three key workstreams

The BIMSafe project has three main workstreams. First, the development of “Best Practice Guidelines” for incorporating Health and Safety Information into BIM models. These Guidelines will form a distinct Chapter of the BIM Handbook, published by the BAC.

The second workstream, will be a case study where the guidelines will be trialed and tested during a live construction project. The case study is the new ACC building in Dunedin, which is designed by Warren and Mahoney with Ngai-Tahu Property and the ACC Investment arm as the clients.

Ngai Tahu Property Development Manager, James Jackson says the construction project is the perfect opportunity for the safety trials.

“Ngai Tahu Property want to do everything we can to help the industry provide safer workplaces. BIMSafe NZ is set to be a game-changer for the industry, and we are looking forward to playing a part in achieving this.”

The third workstream is an education drive, where the resources and Guidelines will be promoted to the industry to increase uptake and use.

For more information on the BIMSafe project visit:

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