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BIM Case Study: Multi-Party Collaboration on Elephant Park
Wrap your head around the massive advantages of Building Information Modelling by experiencing them yourself or, at the very least, seeing their real-world impact on a project. Read our latest case study about using BIM on Elephant Park to witness the benefits of BIM in construction.
Located in London’s Elephant and Castle, Elephant Park is a new, mixed-use development in an extensive regeneration project. It comprises apartments, offices, retail spaces, a two-acre park and Elephant Springs—an urban oasis featuring fountains, waterfalls and slides.
The project’s primary contractor subcontracted some of its elements to specialist trades—including Tilbury Contracts—who sought out Shft to take care of all things BIM-related on the project.
BIM is the acronym for Building Information Modelling. It is a highly collaborative process that allows construction professionals to plan, design and construct a structure or building using a single coordinated 3D model, which team members can then collaborate on. All parties share the same information simultaneously in the same format. BIM Level 2 became mandatory for all public sector works from 2016.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth definition of BIM, take a look at our blog post here to understand what Building Information Modelling really is.
In 2002, the Greater London Authority published The London Plan. This identified Elephant and Castle as a key growth area for London. After a thorough tender process, Southwark Council selected its preferred master development partner in 2007. The first planning applications were submitted in 2012, and outline planning permission was received in 2013.
Fast forward to 2015, and the council’s contractor sought Tilbury Contracts’ assistance for the Elephant Park project. In response to the UK government’s mandate to use 3D BIM on all public projects by 2016, Tilbury, in turn, outsourced the BIM element to Shft.
Will Haynes, Commercial Director at Tilbury Contracts, explains: “We commenced work as subcontractors on Elephant Park in 2015. As the design and building contract developed, we employed Shft to take on the BIM design and compliance strategy on MP4 H11A. We’ve since picked up further plots and will be outsourcing their BIM to Shft too.”
“At the tender stage, we provided Shft with an execution plan, which they used to create an assessment and then return a risk register, capability assessment and implementation plan—which we then submitted as part of our tender bid,” says Will.
“With each successful tender, we turned to Shft to work together with us for approximately four months. They get involved at the design stage by mapping our bread-and-butter work into a 3D model. Shft’s role has actually allowed us to go on and win multi-million-pound contracts.”
The question shouldn’t be “Why Shft?” but “Why not Shft?”
“Shft are incredibly approachable and have taken a load off our shoulders. They were recommended to us by the project’s main contractor, and we’ve been so impressed that we’ve decided to use Jacques and Michelle for all our future projects,” continues Will.
“When outsourcing bespoke items, the contractor must be the best. After all, they want repeat work, so their results always have to shine. At Tilbury, we treat every contract as a professional job that must be undertaken to the best of our abilities. Shft shares the same work ethos and integrity, so outsourcing our BIM to them is a no-brainer.”
The benefits of using BIM in the Elephant Park project have been numerous and enabled the team at Tilbury Contracts to spot potential issues much earlier in the process.
“Shft provided insights into how to design projects earlier while minimising human error. Back in the day, we worked off PDF drawings and built the model in our heads. If we were good at doing so, things worked; if not, mistakes (and big ones) were made,” explains Will.
In fact, at Shft, we like to say that 2D documentation and drawings are like using a map book, while 3D BIM is like using Google Maps. 2D drawings are nothing more than a time stamp and can only give a snapshot of the information the project team needs. Integrated 3D BIM, on the other hand, completely changes how teams design and collaborate throughout a project because the models are kept live. In this way, the information is always current. With BIM, there is so much rich data to hand that errors are reduced and value is added to every stage of the construction process.
Will explains how this approach benefits Tilbury: “Now we get to see firsthand, in 3D, what the project looks like and what we need to do. The amount of information derived from BIM—and for such a reasonable cost—is fantastic. Case in point? At Tilbury, we do a lot of paving, and until you’re actually on the job, you don’t know where the cuts will be. With BIM and Shft, the exact layout of the paving is mapped, which means we can work out how many oversized slabs we need, among other factors, in advance.”
Adopting BIM on Elephant Park meant better coordination and collaboration between different disciplines in construction. The upshot was that there were fewer surprises or problems during construction, and delivery and performance improved dramatically.
The project demonstrates that BIM can fit into the narrative of an existing supply chain to make it even more effective. Successful contractors spend years building their supply chain. And, as they push for digitisation, they rely on (and deserve) expert support to deliver BIM to their projects’ high standards.
At Shft, we take our role very seriously because we know how pivotal BIM is in enabling contractors to meet their goals and complete project deliverables, often exceeding their own expectations. We strive to empower their supply chain and help them achieve their digital requirements for more effective construction.
Without BIM, a lot would be at stake throughout the construction process—for everyone involved. Not using BIM doesn’t just mean that collaborators miss out on BIM’s advantages. It also opens the project up to more risks across its different stages.
Instead, using BIM on Elephant Park significantly streamlined the construction process.
The icing on the cake for Tilbury? “We’ve been able to win bigger projects for other contractors because, thanks to Shft, we now have some experience of BIM,” smiles Will, proving that subcontractors stand to gain just as much as contractors from using BIM. After all, subcontractors are great at what they do and shouldn’t be left out of the running for high-stakes, competitive projects—projects that BIM opens the door to.
“If Shft were to turn around and announce they were shutting shop tomorrow, I’d have a panic attack! BIM was the missing piece of the construction puzzle. We couldn’t have completed Elephant Park without the help of Shft, our BIM specialists, and now we can’t imagine working without them. They are an asset to any construction project.”
Will Haynes, Commercial Director, Tilbury Contracts
If you’d like more insights into the real-world applications of BIM, check out the work we did for the London HQ of a major, California-based streaming giant.
Need to outsource your BIM? Whether you’re a main contractor or subcontractor, leave your digital worries at the door and let Shft handle them. We’ve made BIM our business so you can focus on what you love about getting a project done while we embrace construction’s digital future for you. Get BIM done with Shft.