University of Salford Manchester

Building Information Modelling

Building Information Modelling and Management (BIM(M)) research at the University of Salford has contributed to the concept and development of an integrated approach to improved efficiency in the construction sector:
Adopted in 2011 by the UK Government through its Building Information Modelling and Management (BIM (M)) Strategy, Salford research in BIM(M) has supported the development of this strategy, through demonstrating the approach and its benefits through several live projects and UK/EU government funded research projects, including:

  • Establishing the concept of ‘nD modelling’;
  • Developing and demonstrating the concept of integrated multi-user distributed construction project databases, developing the virtual workspace for collaborative working;
  • Developing process improvement protocol/frameworks;
  • Supporting the development of the international standardisation for the representation and exchange of building information.

A group of researchers have been involved in developing BIM(M) research since the early 1990s and a number of colleagues continue this work including, Professor Mustafa Alshawi, Dr Yusuf Arayici, Professor Terrence Fernando, Dr Angela Lee, Dr Jason Underwood, Dr Song Wu and Professor Vian Ahmed.

Early pioneering research form 1992 led to the development of frameworks and data models that could support the concept of integrating building and construction project information over its life cycle, through such UK government funded projects as ICON [7], SPACE and OSCON [12]. SPACE [8] and OSCON built on the outputs from ICON to focus on technological aspects and early prototypes, demonstrating the concept of integrating ‘commercially available’ construction applications, through a shared, object-oriented project database.
1995-1998: The collaborative industry-led ESPRC funded COMMIT [10] project, defined the mechanisms (object models, tools, system architecture, methodology) needed to handle the management of information to support decision-making in collaborative projects. Funded by the EPSRC, Salford researchers developed a framework of common definitions, documents and procedures using manufacturing principles as a reference point to assist construction project participants’ work together seamlessly in the Process Protocol – GDCPP, a high-level process map that aimed to provide a framework to help companies achieve improved design and construction processes.
1996-1998: Through WISPER [11], the UK government funded Partners in Innovation project, Salford researchers developed an integrated multi-user distributed construction project database, implementing web-based technologies together with product data (Industry Foundation Classes information standard - IFC) technology. The project focused on developing a system capable of demonstrating the future direction of information integration with the collaborating industry partners’ (Laing) businesses.
1999-2000: EPSRC funded research focused on ‘process improvement’, developing an evolutionary step-wise process improvement framework through utilising experience from the IT sector in meeting the challenges of the Latham and Egan reports (SPICE - Structured Process Improvement for Construction Enterprises and SPICE 3). [14]
Industry collaboration with Galliford, Welsh Waters, EC Harris and Stamford Homes (Gallicon) demonstrated the benefits of applying integration technologies to different sectors of the construction industry; water treatment and housing. Two integrated systems were subsequently developed for improving the conceptual design of waste water treatment plants, minimising development costs and enhancing customer relationship management in housing projects. Salford researchers focused on developing a virtual workspace to improve client briefing, design review and construction, achieved through a distributed architecture to support concurrent engineering practices in the collaborative EU Information Society Technologies funded programme, the DIVERCITY project.
2001-2005: The concept of ‘nD modelling’ (having been subsequently widely adopted at an international level) was devised by Salford researchers through the 3D to nD Modelling [5] UK government funded project, which focused on enabling and equipping the design and construction industry with a tool that allows users to create, share, contemplate and apply knowledge from multiple perspectives (dimensions) of user requirements.2006-2013: Salford researchers are developing organisational models and distributed technologies for collaborative workspaces for individuals and project teams within distributed virtual manufacturing enterprises enabling effective partnerships, innovation, improved productivity, and reduced design cycles via CoSpaces, an EU funded collaborative project that further builds on the virtual workspace theme developed in DIVERCITY