Updated: Jan 23, 2019
BIM-Building Information Modelling also known as VDC-Virtual Design and Construction became a new buzz word in the real estate and construction industry. It’s already evident from the industry experts that utilizing the BIM technology and its workflows in a right way can prove BIM as revolutionary in the AECO-Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operation Industry. BIM cannot be considered as mere as technological advancement, but a philosophy that can re-engineer the way conventional AECO industry functions. In this article we can explore BIM implementation in EPC-Engineering, Procurement and Construction project, what kind of risks should a BIM manager be aware of in this new paradigm.
Now among different project delivery methods in real estate or infrastructure, the EPC mode of delivery has become, one of the popular ways of project delivery methods not only in India but also in a global scale. Based on the FIDIC-International Federation of Consulting Engineers definition EPC project is a “particular form of contracting arrangement used in some industries where the EPC Contractor is made responsible for all the activities from design, procurement, construction, to commissioning and handover of the project to the End-User or Owner.”
Figure 1 explains the traditional model of EPC project model delivery, where even though BIM is implemented, the BIM related parties just function as another entity in the project and maintain its role and responsibility and report to the owner like a general contractor. While the aim of BIM implementation is somewhat lost in a situation as stated in Figure 1.
The BIM should not only function as a tool but as a method of collaboration between different AECO stakeholders to tackle several issues, such as design delays because of lack of coordination and drawing, clash detection, change management etc. Hence, now let’s have a look at Figure 2, in which the BIM managers take the supreme role after the owner to manage the stakeholders to ascertain the smooth flow of data and communication between all the involved parties. AIA, the American Institute of Architects had mandated the role of BIM manager in the BIM-enabled projects.
Now in case of EPC projects, the project risk is almost completely shared to General Contractor, the project price also is generally higher than the cost of a same size of project if executed in DBB-Design Bid Build method, in which the risk is partially shared by Owner. while at a glance the risk to reward can sound a lucrative deal from the general contractor’s perspective, risks if not properly dealt with can have a great impact in terms of cost & time.
While implementing BIM technology and with a pre-defined set of workflows can bring several benefits, there are some new standalone risks also being generated because of its implementation, different factors have a role to play in such risks ranging from company internal management, local legal condition, financial capabilities etc. For example, in the UK there is a contract framework like BIM protocol for all BIM maturity level 2.0 or higher level of BIM-enabled the project, while in India there is not yet any standard guidelines for BIM-enabled projects.
Further, one of the prime factors to consider for BIM even before initiating the project is probably the organizational culture, whether BIM will be adopted, based on literature review it is found out that most of the experienced managers are not in favor of implementing BIM in their projects, keeping in mind the high cost of BIM software, hardware and also in terms of training the employees to work in a new platform. Because most of the real estate or contracting organizations in India are hierarchical, signifying it follows a top-down management approach, adoption of BIM in the project can be in great question.
There are other technological risks as well, how the designer can maintain “standard of care” in the model while computing generates some model by its own in terms of pre-loaded data, also BIM contains multiple files and libraries, if some amendment is done in a file in a certain library by the third party like MEP contractor without the knowledge of other stakeholders, what can be the implication and what to do about it. It is quite evident that risk management in a new way of working in a BIM environment becomes of paramount importance.
EPC projects has its own set of risk in terms of technical, legal, financial and regulation related risk, some can be tackled care in a BIM environment, while BIM brings a new set of risk, therefore a thorough risk analysis needs to be done to create a benchmark of the risks that a BIM manager should be aware of and subsequent to get a prior insight.
Need your Feedback.
To facilitate industry practitioners, new research is being conducted to ascertain the priority of different risk factors and subsequently finding the critical risk factors and how to deal with it. I request your feedback on the research objective, also kindly contribute with your valuable response in the survey. Whether you’re a designer, the owner or general contractor any role, who is associated with BIM/EPC projects in some way or another is requested to participate.
About the Author
Pallab Goswami is a Graduate student, Tsinghua University, Beijing-100084