Balfour Beatty has partnered with Leeds Beckett University, White Frog Publishing and Coventry University to create a new, automated solution to tackle challenges faced by the construction industry in adopting Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology.
BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that provides insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.
Whilst the benefits to embedding BIM into everyday working practices are clear, the industry hasn’t embraced the technology in a way similar to other technologies such as drones, due to a lack of access to the level of design information required at an early stage to effectively use the tool. 
The project will see the collaborative team explore how BIM can become more automated by developing a plug-in software solution, with the aim of assisting users in complying with BIM standards and meeting Government targets by adopting BIM as part of the Construction 2025 Strategy to reduce time and cost of construction.
The project is part of a wider £12.5 million investment programme organised by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, a non-departmental public body within UK Research and Innovation, and financed by the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in innovative projects aiming to improve productivity, quality and performance of the UK construction sector.
The developed software will automatically populate the 3D representation of products or elements with the appropriate building information. This will simplify the process of sharing data between design, procurement, maintenance and operation teams, allowing for increased predictability of building performance through more detailed asset planning.
Rachel Sudlow, Project Lead and Continuous Improvement Project Manager at Balfour Beatty, said: “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.”
Dr Saheed Ajayi, Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Engineering at Leeds Beckett, and the Academic Leader of the project, said: “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 standardization. Through the research and innovation with Balfour Beatty, we are pleased to present this solution to the industry”
The research team will develop the automated BIM solution over a two year period, with the project to be shared with the wider industry in 2021.
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Notes to editors:
- Balfour Beatty (balfourbeatty.com) is a leading international infrastructure group. With 26,000 employees, we provide innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. We finance, develop, build and maintain complex infrastructure such as transportation, power and utility systems, social and commercial buildings.
- Our main geographies are the UK, US and Hong Kong. Over the last 100 years we have created iconic buildings and infrastructure all over the world including the London Olympics’ Aquatic Centre, Hong Kong’s first Zero Carbon building, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the US and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
- We rely on cutting-edge technology to design, build and maintain our portfolio of diverse projects. ‘Digital’ is integral to the business, allowing the company to innovate and implement improvements in efficiency, quality and safety.
- Our in-house expert capabilities encompass a variety of digital services and are applied across the whole lifecycle of a project. Technology deployed includes augmented and virtual reality; Building Information Modelling (BIM); drones; 3D printing; cloud data storage; telematics and data analytics. Seamlessly integrated into the business, the use of technology enables Balfour Beatty employees to work more productively, more effectively and efficiently, as well as more safely.
Leeds Beckett University
- Leeds Beckett University transforms the lives and prospects of thousands of individuals and organisations every day in the city, the wider region, and beyond.
- Our mission is to ensure we use our knowledge and resources to make a positive and decisive difference to people, communities and organisations.
- The practical nature of our world-leading research makes a difference to people’s everyday lives, from helping to combat obesity, to improving the performance of elite athletes and tackling doping in sport.
- The university is investing £200m in its campuses with an ambitious programme of development over the next two years, focusing on sport and the creative industries, and holds silver status in the Teaching Excellence Framework for its high quality teaching.
- There are more than 28,000 students on Leeds Beckett University programmes in the UK and overseas across our 13 academic schools and a diverse student population from 143 countries.
- Contributing £520m to the regional economy, the university is an integral part of the region, with more than 3,000 staff and more than 6,000 graduates entering the talent pool each year.
White Frog Publishing Limited
- White Frog is an award-winning specialist in Building Information Modelling (BIM) knowledge dissemination
- With a very strong global reputation, White Frog has established itself as a market leader in strategic and scalable education of Digital Engineering processes and technologies
- Providing resources for the classroom, the boardroom and the cloud, White Frog supports the adoption of BIM through trainer/teacher training and curriculum management, with experience from secondary schools to countries and institutions
- Coventry University is represented by Dr Hafiz Alaka, Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment.
- As an ambitious and innovative university, our research makes tangible differences to the way we live. Coventry University is already well-known for delivering research that makes a significant contribution to a number of global challenges.
- Our research centres focus on a range of real world issues including sustainability, disease prevention and innovative engineering. Our new strategy will build on these successes, strengthen our position as an innovative university and enable us to apply fresh and original approaches to key research challenges.
- At Coventry University we aim to help drive innovation through the fusion of industry and academic research. Our business support teams act as a gateway for businesses to access our world-renowned industry expertise, academics and world-class research centres. These teams can quickly assess the needs of a business or a particular project and unlock the most relevant knowledge and expertise.
- With an award-winning track record on industry engagement, Coventry University has developed a unique way of co-investing, co-creating and co-prospering with innovation partners.
- We work to a win-win, mutually-beneficial model, focused on maximising revenue generation, risk management, productivity / cost effectiveness and brand enhancement by sharing innovative ideas, research results and skills unique to the university with business and the wider community to enable innovative new products, services and processes to be developed.
- We are proud to collaborate with some of the biggest companies in the UK and around the world. These collaborations have led to the creation of innovative products, new services and research with impact.