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5 Jul 2013

Mandated BIM for Russia

Notes from my briefing at COFES Russia 2013

Marina Korol

Marina Korol is one of the most well-known actors of the Russian & CIS market of engineering software. After a long and very efficient love story with Autodesk in Russia, Marina, as an independent expert and organizer, has recently very actively plunged into the BIM sphere and all those in Russia who are interested in this domain, could already feel the first results of Marina’s organizing and managing talent. BIM was one of the most intensively discussed topics at the recent COFES Russia 2013 event and the related briefing moderated by Marina became obviously one of the most interesting and fruitful.

You can reach Marina Korol by marina.korol@bimexperts.ru

The title of the notes may sound provocative and it really is. Although it does not reflect a reality in Russian construction industry today it does reflect discussions led by a group of professionals attracted by the topic of the briefing during COFES Russia 2013 event.

It was my first COFES, and having been instructed by experienced COFES’ers I didn’t expect more than 10 participants, especially when there were three more briefings running simultaneously. However, room Peter at the New Peterhof hotel was pretty full and my estimation is around 30+ people. Among participants there were representatives of Autodesk, Siemens PLM, ASKON, AVEVA, Bricsys, AEC3, companies-technology providers, advanced technology users, practicing experts as well as BIM-writers and famous bloggers of Runet.

COFESRu-BIM

Brad Holtz’s proposal to moderate the briefing was more like a gift for me rather than a duty. Knowing COFES participants selection process and due to my current (voluntary) activity as Russian BIM Group lead I was excited about the opportunity to have a conversation with those people and collect their thoughts.

Below is an overview of a 45-minute discussion in the form of questions and respective views and opinions of the audience, which I managed to capture. (Unfortunately, technically it’s not possible to put a name against a quotation).

1. Is it the right time now to raise “Mandated BIM in Russia” topic? Is the technology ready? Can’t it become a false-start? US government mandates for BIM and the new BIM mandates for the UK played a significant role in jumpstarting BIM adoption. Is the Russian economy ready to embrace BIM as a way to increase efficiency, transparency as there are still some major construction projects under way funded from the budget?

  • “Neither our Government nor our economy need it. But if we don’t raise this question now we’ll never see anything happening. At least we have to start speaking. We have some background, certain understanding of BIM, we do believe BIM we’ll arrive at our market. Maybe foreign companies will come over, tap it and make best out of it.”
  • “Not a single company, even major foreign vendors will not do that for us. There have to be a will from the Government.”
  • “Are designers ready? – Gradually and slowly they are moving. Are the clients ready? It’s difficult to involve customers in the dialogue. Although it’s them who benefit most. We don’t have a mechanism to communicate with Government or private client.”
  • “ In Russia we haven’t yet developed a common understanding what BIM really is. Even software vendors’ reps don’t understand.”
  • “We should speak about BIM as Information Management. And everyone who is interested in lower total cost of ownership should be interested in BIM. And vice versa. If it’s just about to build, sell, and embezzle the money, than there is no space for BIM in Russia.”
  • “It’s exactly the time for BIM, it’s time the Government or somebody from above showed us the way.”

2. What is the role of the Government for construction industry in Russia? Having in mind that the Government opted out when introduced self-regulation four years ago, what might be the role of professional organizations? Shouldn’t we put our efforts in building a dialogue with the National Associations (of designers, builders) only?

  • “If the state dictates in the area, what technology is to be used, next day they will dictate how to cook. It’s standards that should come from the state. It has a leading role here. We should replace old inefficient standards. The role of professional communities is advisory.”
  • We need to have an educated customer. No good if the state would dictate designers how to design, but if the government for specific facility would insist on efficiency, then we’ll see an educated customer. Gov customer will behave as a locomotive and show the way for other customers. No dictating scenario. State has several departments ordering construction projects. Minregion (Ministry of Regional Development, home for Gosstroj agency, regulating construction industry) should work with Government customers from various departments educating them. We should educate customers at projects level.”
  • “In the UK the Government customer just says: I pay you for information. I need building and information on that building, whatever tools you will use for that. I need it in the format for my further use. Most of the standards are developed and re-developed. The Government promotes standards.”
  • “Existing Russian standards are not ready for BIM usage, they are pre-historical, legal framework is not ready either.”
  • “Standards are not something fixed, they are the rules, guidelines. New standards will open up the way. The Government is a messenger to bring standards to the market and raise the level of everyone in the market.”
Ěŕđčíŕ Ęîđîëü COFES

3. What mandated BIM might mean for Russian AEC companies? Is it good or extra burden on their shoulders? What is in their minds today?

  • “Design companies staff. They are either after 50 or before 35. There is a gap. The latter are mentally ready for BIM, more than 60% of them are, but majority of those after 50 mostly use AutoCAD as drawing boards. We need to train more personnel.”
  • “Russian designing companies are afraid of competition with western companies coming, but are doing nothing to increase their efficiency. To save costs they tend to employ the cheapest workforce, students without any experience. At a construction site workers can’t read drawings. We’re not progressing, rather we’re regressing. To start introducing BIM companies should first wish to change their business culture”.
  • “Russian designers and architects are forced to cooperate with foreigners in some Moscow symbolic architectural projects. Some cases give ground for optimism.”
  • “Competition should be driving force. Or we’ll still be producing LADA Kalinas, but on construction sites. BIM will help efficiency.”

4. What are the peculiarities or specifics of Russian BIM? Are there more common challenges, problems to be solved rather than peculiarities compared to other countries with mandated BIM?

  • “In the UK cost consultants are independent. They serve to protect client’s interests. In Russia they are affiliated with designing organizations. Cost consultants are advocates of designers, so they are interested to support designers rather than anybody else in the process.”
  • “Construction has more problems than design industry. Designers are too far from construction. They don’t think what is going on with their drawings on site. Owners and operators are even further.”
  • “Why BIM was mandated in the UK? – They needed more money for their budget. In our country they steal more. So the Government should be interested even more, but on the other hand, they might not be interested at all. If you steal you’re not interested in any transparency and efficiency. Cost estimates - if clients want to know what is happening they should stand for BIM. But our clients want everything to be messy, it’s a cartel, it’s specifics of the Russian market.”

I would like to finish the notes with something more positive than the last quotation of the disillusioned speaker. According to the latest news the Russian Federation faces budget deficit for the coming three years. Not good news either. Maybe at least good time to bring BIM message to the construction industry bosses? The way it happened in the UK?

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