Why BIM in Russia develops from the bottom up
It is not often that innovations initiated by the state are so actively supported from the bottom up as the implementation of BIM (Building Information Modeling) technologies in designing and engineering. The attempts of many companies to introduce BIM technologies to their design departments might seem to make this process easier in the future, when the standard is compulsory, but is it really the case? Presently, the Ministry of Construction has only prepared a road map, and the process of norms and regulations’ development is proceeding much slower than how the industry develops, formulating codes and regulations itself.
BIM has been duly appreciated all over the world, often adopted as standard at the state level, such as in Great Britain. Parametric 3D-modeling gives an opportunity to decrease the number of mistakes at the stages of design engineering and construction, supports the whole life cycle of a building (from a sketch to dismounting) and, more importantly, makes it possible for a customer to save significantly due to the transparency of all of the processes.
In Russia, BIM became popular several years ago as an alternative to traditional CAD-engineering primarily among large and medium private companies. The fact that foreign holdings such as Samsung or AECOM used BIM in their work influenced this process.
The introduction and implementation of the new technology was started by professional communities and forward-looking proprietors. Bright-eyed people appeared who, having gained company leaders’ support and motivating their colleagues, created BIM departments in their companies, organised the hierarchy and wrote standards that found their way round the English-language patterns.
There are two possible scenarios of implementation: by enthusiasts, which takes about half a year, and by authorities. And here the variants are quite different: from the compulsory replacement of software to resorting to consultant-integrators and the mass training of staff.
One should remember that designing is quite a tradition-bound industry, and many specialists do not want to re-educate and subsequently leave the companies introducing BIM by arbitrary decision. This is one of the biggest problems as it is difficult to find adequate specialists.
However, Russia has rapidly become a country actively using BIM and is succeeding in it, with Russian companies becoming known on international markets. As usual, business was the first to feel the advantages of the new technology and began to implement it on its own.
Lust for rules
Luckily, the state authorities also saw the advantages. In December 2014, the RF Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities took a decision to use BIM for design and engineering in construction. But the crisis negatively impacted the process of the step-by-step implementation of the informational modeling technologies in the sphere of civil and industrial construction.
The Construction Scientific Research Center was assigned to develop a corresponding Code of regulations. The institution staff know perfectly well the condition of the market, so an adequate result was expected.
But the developed code of regulations turned out to copy to the last detail the open BIM-standard of the Concurator company invited to assist this. And the mentioned BIM-standard is developed especially for Revit and Civil 3D programs (the AutoDesk company’s products).
The fact that the national code of regulations was being written with a foreign monopolist’s participation worried the design engineers’ community, and not without reason because besides Revit existing for BIM, there are other prospective and developing companies, such as Bentley, Renga, etc. It has resulted in the Ministry’s organising new competition for developing the code of regulations.
In fact, the situation is vague because, on the one hand, the new technology is being implemented based on foreign experience and due to enthusiasts using the open materials of big companies or the help of consultant-integrators.
On the other hand, there is no integral Code of regulations, and everybody therefore invents their own wheel, rendering it difficult for several companies to work together, despite having different standards based on the same source.
Besides, in Russia, BIM is mainly associated with Revit, although there are a lot of other companies’ products on the market, including Nanosoft, Askon, Indoorsoft, Bentley, Graphysoft, Tekla and Nemetschek, which are all Russian.
Time is also against an orderly development, with the constantly postponed date of the adoption of the Code (now 2018—2019 are mentioned), together with the independent dynamic development of the industry, possibly leading to the formation of the market without any rules and regulations. Plus it will start operating with the application of foreign standards.
More than that, the specialists, who are presently self-taught (BIM-designers have started to be trained only in Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University), shall work according to western standards, using western terminology and abbreviations. They will then have to study everything anew.
Do we really need such a scenario of development?