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31/05/2016 / Graham Lowe

BIM and Fire Safety: What progress has been made?

BIM-DOWNLIGHTER-ANGLE1Five years ago, the Cabinet Office announced their requirement for fully collaborative 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM) to be used for all centrally procured projects by April 2016. Having now passed that deadline, it might be shocking to learn that, according to the NBS National BIM Report 2016, only 54% of UK respondents are aware and currently using BIM.

In 2011, the Cabinet Office’s Construction Strategy Report suggested that many companies already had the capability of working in a fully collaborative 3D environment but a lack of compatible systems, standards and protocols was preventing wide spread adoption. Five years on and with the BIM framework now fully established, reports are finding that many businesses are still struggling to justify the investment in resources.

It could be argued that the fire safety industry is one of those sectors that have been particularly slow to adopt BIM; however Hochiki Europe is prepared to lead the way.

In 2014, we realised that in order for us to continue supplying fire detection equipment into centrally procured government projects, we would need to take a closer look at BIM. It soon became apparent that in order to satisfy the requirements of BIM level 2, we as a manufacturer, would need to create 3D objects with a specific set of parameters for all of our products. We began by speaking to a number of BIM consultants who all gave us some great advice, but we also needed some feedback from our customers.

At the tail end of 2014, we ran a survey asking installers three questions; are they aware of BIM? Are they using BIM? And if so, which 3D CAD software are they using? The results were as expected; 53% had never heard of BIM and only 8% were currently using BIM. However of those 8%, it appeared that Autodesk Revit was the most popular 3D CAD software. At the beginning of 2015, we took the plunge and commissioned Excitech to produce 20 Hochiki BIM objects, from both our fire detection and emergency lighting ranges, for the Autodesk Revit platform.

In June 2015, we become the UK’s first independent fire detection manufacturer to provide BIM components for the NBS National BIM library. The number of Hochiki downloads has been increasing month on month, which is a really positive reflection on the fire industry’s response to BIM. What’s more, at the tail end of 2015, we asked installers the same questions that we had back in 2014, and we were pleased to see that 17% were now fully aware and using BIM (9% increase), and the number of installers who had never heard of BIM dropped to 30% (22% decrease).

Hochiki Europe recognises that the BIM framework will help to improve collaboration across the construction sector, increase efficiency and a reduce costs; and this is something we are keen to champion. As a manufacturer, we need to support our customers by helping them to understand how and what BIM objects are used for. In recognition of this and almost one year since the release of our own BIM Objects, we decided to hold a webinar entitled ‘BIM: What you need to know for today and tomorrow’ co-presented with our BIM consultancy, Excitech. We invited installers, consultants, specifiers, architects and anyone else who might be interested in understanding the concept of BIM and how it is now impacting the fire industry. The event was a huge success with over 100 registrants; another sign that the fire industry is beginning to embrace BIM.

In order to support the fire industry further, Hochiki also has a presence on the FIA’s newly formed BIM steering group, designed to aid the adoption of BIM across the fire industry.

Since the release of our BIM objects, we have begun working with a number of customers on centrally procured projects; the largest being London’s University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH). We look forward to working with other customers within the BIM Level 2 framework.

For more information about Hochiki, or to download the BIM objects, please visit www.hochikieurope.com/bim

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