A plastering, screeding and drylining subcontractor in Ilford, east London, is one of 30 supply chain SMEs that has benefited from a one-day training course in BIM offered by manufacturer Knauf to Tier 1 and Tier 2 contractors.
A spokesman for Excel Plastering told BIM+: “On some of the contracts we’re doing, they ask us if we’re taking BIM on board. So with the range of work we do, with lots of schools and colleges, we need to know more about BIM.”
Excel Plastering employs nine permanent staff, directing up to 60 self-employed operatives on projects throughout London and the south east.
Knauf believes there is a lack of training offered through accredited training bodies, and a lack of understanding in the marketplace from Tier 2 firms, so has invested in supporting its customers to understand BIM and how it will affect them.
Its move has been welcomed by FIS, the trade association for the finishes and interiors sector.
Technical manager Joe Cilia said: “So far all the attention in introducing BIM has been aimed at the developers, specifiers and architects and not enough upon the specialist contractors. This course developed by Knauf will make a significant contribution to redressing the balance.”
He added: “Being BIM ready or BIM compliant is the buzz phrase that we hear with increasing regularity as we approach the March 2016 imposed deadline for [government] projects to be delivered to BIM Level 2, but so far there has been little information on what the specialist contractors have to do and where they get relevant information from.”
That view is backed by Jill Guthrie, a BIM manager at Willmott Dixon and co-chair of the north-west BIM Region capacity-building network. She told BIM+: “We’ve been to some recent events at the north-west construction hub, where supply chain companies are saying they don’t know where to turn for BIM training. When you get further down the supply chain, there is a lack of training opportunities.
“We’ve been trying to collect data on where the [training] gaps are – if they don’t have the training, they don’t have the basics,” Guthrie added, adding that she thought that software resellers could play a greater role in providing training.
Knauf will be offering further courses on BIM and, in addition, supports the Kent BIM Region forum by offering and hosting events.
Baxall Construction, a main contractor employing 50 staff with a £20m turnover and a member of the Kent BIM Region, has also sent three staff on the Knauf course. Managing director Malcolm Clarke said: “Our staff found the day’s session very informative and useful – it’s good to see a manufacturer taking the lead.
“We were an early adopter of BIM and regard it as a saving rather than a business cost. Using BIM has enabled us to be both more competitive and boost profits.”