BIM: Forget clash detection, think cash ($$$) detection

Clash detection

In this blog, I put forward the idea (in a long-winded fashion now I look back on it 18 months later) that ‘clash detection’ is often a waste of time. This is particularly if applied without adequate planning, or when it is assumed that a technical solution can solve a process (design) issue.

My angle was that there is a lot more to good design merely than stuff not clashing. Pronouncing a set of models as complete once they don’t clash with each other is like calling a road system perfect just because vehicles don’t collide (but the whole thing is gridlocked)

There is more to it- good design is cost effective, efficient, constructable, aesthetically sound, safe, logical, maintainable and so on.

‘Show me the money’

Quoting a Tom Cruise movie (Jerry Maguire) might do little for my credibility- but it really does come down to this.

I work on many construction projects where the penalties for running over program (such as liquidated damages) are in the order of $100,000-$1,000,000 per day.

Add in costs such as preliminaries (just being on site) and I really wonder why contractors take on such risks.

Even without such contractual incentives, a very small adjustment in design or methodology can make a huge difference to the financial success of the project.

As I see it, the benefits of digital technology in design and construction are in these savings i.e in ‘cash detection’

So the focus of BIM or Digital Engineering needs to be on this and not mindless ‘clash reports’ (or the on box-ticking exercise of BIM standards such as PAS 1192-2)

For design consultants: this means going beyond something that merely fits together and functions, but an optimum solution that a client will pay a premium for. This could be in terms of design quality, constructability, asset efficiency or operational benefits.

For a contractor- this means reduction or elimination of construction risks (commercial, safety, program, environmental etc) & identification of opportunities (acceleration. efficiencies etc)