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Q&A with Jason Howden- BIM

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Jason Howden, Associate Principal at Warren and Mahoney (WAM) and advanced BIM expert, featured on PrefabNZ Innovation Bites webinar to chat about BIM Design Automation and Artificial Intelligence.

Times have changed. And 25 years ago, when Jason started in the industry, he started on a drawing board and the computer sat next to the drawing board. But as he looks around the office at Warren and Mahoney, there are no drawing boards. It's all digital these days. Times have changed and the industry is growing up and slowly moving with the times. One of the big changes at WAM is the ability to collaborate virtually.

Below Jason generously answers the Innovation Bites audience questions posed.

The problem is we're all grappling with how we get from where we are to where we need to be... In your opinion what steps forward do we need to take collectively and individually?

The key to getting from A – B is collective (industry-wide) and self-education. Technology is advancing exponentially, however our current education systems have remained relatively unchanged when it comes to integrating technology into the construction sector (design through to operations). Another option is acquiring the appropriate talent that has already made the transition to B, however due to the above factors this talent is in limited supply and likely to incur a premium until wider adoption is achieved.

What was the conference/workshop you mentioned in the webinar that you recommended?

One of the better regional conferences is BiLT ANZ, this is usually hosted in Australia in or near one of the main cities. The next one is being held in Sydney 18th – 20 June 2020. More here

The other one mentioned was Autodesk University, possibly the best industry focused technology event in the year, is held annually in Las Vegas in mid-November. The next one is being held 18th – 21st November in Las Vegas. More here

Where to next for VR?

VR is really starting to take hold. The next phase in development for VR is around multi-user collaboration with several technologies already available for use in the AEC space such as, Arkio and The Wild. VR is most definitely moving out of the dedicated ‘room’ and going mobile with a rise of mixed-reality offerings coming out to market such as, Oculus

Should we or the general public be worried about privacy?

I think this is being handled refer to the recent law changes associated with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. However if you’re still concerned don’t use the technology.

How do you see these new technologies enabling us to reduce construction waste? What can we do to encourage this and enable this to be taken up?

There are loads of technologies that can and are being used to reduce waste in construction. The biggest roadblock is engagement of people in the use of the technology. The easiest thing is to get involved, stay involved and use the technology available.

As a product supplier in the building industry (we are flooring), what problems can we try and solve to make it easier to work in with the new systems for building design? Knowing that you use your own practise solutions, how can we enable collaboration (obviously on a smaller scale compared to engineers etc).

A great question. This is not a one tool fits all solution. As an industry designer need to provide ‘generic’ solutions to be open to the market and for better solutions to be offered etc etc. However, this causes a major bottleneck as now the design information is not specific for construction and relies on the contractors to update design information to reflect their preferred solution or products being used in the project. This then causes an issue around who’s responsible for what and if someone edits someone elses work how can we tell what has/hasn’t been edited etc. The easiest thing to do here is to engage with your partners and to work with them to develop systems and solutions that are flexible and encourage their use, I hope this helps.

Are architecture firms best suited to build internal tools that are industry specific ideal to bridge the gap in fulfilling practice needs?

Every firm (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) is best suited to build their own internal tools. The main issue is everyone is looking for a ‘silver bullet’ or the ‘easy road’ without necessarily investing the time needed to make an informed decision before embarking on their own BIM journey.

Does using a full BIM system on residential projects warrant the time and effort as opposed to large scale commercial projects?

Yes, BIM can bring huge benefits on a residential project. It depends on what benefits (ESD, CarbonZero, Prefabrication, Cost certainty etc etc) you are trying to get, and the effort required to get these benefits, it’s really a simple ROI calculation. The main issue is everyone is looking for a ‘silver bullet’ or the ‘easy road’ without necessarily investing the time needed to make an informed decision before embarking on their own BIM journey.

Which procurement/delivery models suit a BIM/DfMA centric approach best? Are these the typical models used on your projects?

BIM can be applied in all forms of contractual approaches on a construction project. Personally, I have led successful BIM projects on Traditional Design – Bid – Build, Collaborative Working Alliancing, PPP, PFI and Design and Build. BIM is a process and being a process can be tuned to achieve the desired results through working together as a team to deliver the project.

Would BIM be controlled by an external management team for access, storage?

Not a requirement, but for some projects it is preferred.

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