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The Rise of BIM in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has long been a centre of construction, and with its size come many sub-sectors of the industry including tunnels, roads, viaducts, highways, bridges and rail. Within this, there are even more niche job functions like geotechnical engineers, marine engineers and newer technologies like sustainable building which calls for environmental engineers and LEED and Beam Professionals. 2014 will [hopefully] see a steady introduction for a familiar, yet so far often unrecognised sector – BIM.

What is BIM?
A lot of people often hear the term “BIM” and think of 2D plan and sectional drawings. BIM (Building Information Modelling) certainly encompasses this, but also provides a whole lot more. BIM is a [relatively] new form of information management that is used within a project to guide through the pre-construction, construction and operational stages.

BIM is the overall process – it is not one piece of software, or one form of documentation. A prime example of BIM software includes Autodesk Revit. Often BIM is described as being able to represent the physical and functional characteristics of a project. For example, a traditional method of working when representing a building would be to have a computer graphic model which would be used solely to show the aesthetics and materiality of the product. Other aspects including finer construction details such as electrical & mechanical, cost of equipment/materials or even project schedule would be presented in other documentation. The major advantage of utilising BIM is that all this information would be contained within one specific model.

Why are companies using BIM?
Specifically in Hong Kong, companies are adopting BIM for a variety of reasons. As a booming construction market which is inevitably competing with the rest of the world’s construction projects, Hong Kong must keep up to date with construction trends – BIM being one of them. BIM in Hong Kong is still quite new with The Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling (HKIBIM) only becoming established in 2009. BIM can provide many benefits to a construction project throughout all stages:
- Better visualisation of a project at design stage
- Detect design faults at an early stage which will minimise potential delays in future
- Provide a better understanding of site safety and management for the construction stage
- Foreseeing potential delays and variations in design will mean financial risks are exposed early – claims will likely be avoided or minimised

What does the future hold for BIM?
The Hong Kong Housing Authority has set a target for 2014 – 2015 for BIM’s full implementation into Hong Kong construction projects. The BIM workforce is still low within the market, and although the construction sector is a slow-changing one and resistant to new methods, the requirement for BIM professionals is beginning to increase, especially from design engineering consultancies and large international main contractors. There are certain aims that the implementation of BIM has succeeded in and will undoubtedly become a fore runner in:
- Coordinating essential construction documents within one package
- The project delivery speed will increase
- All information is retained from party to party i.e. from design consultant to contractor, and from contractor to client/end user – this can improve productivity due to ease of access to all prior information

This is as good a time as any to start educating oneself about the BIM concept. The market is adapting, albeit slowly to the construction needs of Hong Kong companies. In saying this, there are already companies requesting specialised professionals for BIM functions such as BIM technicians, BIM coordinators or BIM modellers. Perhaps for the time being, the implementation of BIM will be an exercise carried out by specialist consultancies.
Maxim has good access to certain companies on the hunt for such professionals – please get in touch if you feel your skills and expertise will be relevant for the year of 2014 - The Construction Industry Council will take this year as one to make a mark with BIM, educating and convincing construction professionals that BIM is indeed the way forward.

Donald Leung
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong & Asia Region

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