HardHat Professional Amanda Mtya (AM) talks about her passion for the construction industry and why Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the future.
THHP: Briefly tell us about yourself.
AM: I am a Lecturer in Construction Management at the Construction Economics and Management Department, University of Cape Town. Before joining academia, I had diverse industry experience from Government, Consulting and Constructing. In all roles, I specialised in Managing Construction Projects.
I am currently busy with my Master of Philosophy research, which will feed on to my PhD studies within the field of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Construction Management.
THHP: Why did you choose a career in the Built Environment?
AM: I was introduced to the Construction Industry while in high school (grade 10) by an education to employment NGO called Go for Gold. At the time I was still trying to make career choices, and I loved the concept of joining a male-dominated field.
THHP: What is BIM and why are you passionate about it?
AM: In simple terms, I see BIM as a digitally driven, integrated project delivery method that is about enhancing design detail, so that prior to construction, there can be a virtual prototype of a facility. In that, simulations for various performance requirements can be done.
THHP: In your opinion, why is BIM uptake so slow in South Africa?
AM: The South African construction industry is generally slow in the uptake of technological innovations, especially the construction firms. It may be due to a number of reasons such as the nature of our construction enterprises, the expertise within firms, willingness to invest in new innovative systems etcetera.
Sadly, for BIM to be implemented properly, it requires the buy-in and participation of all key stakeholders within the project delivery framework. Design firms cannot do it on their own.
THHP: How is the BIM uptake globally? Why is this the case?
AM: BIM uptake globally continues to increase, with countries such as the UK having mandated BIM within their public procurement practices. The US has been using BIM for quite some time, and the firms that side of the world are technologically advanced in terms of infusing technology within business practices. So is the case in some regions in Asia.
THHP: What impact will this slow uptake have on SA construction industry?
AM: What is currently happening in SA is that international firms have taken the lead in the private sector to implement BIM. New markets are emerging, driven by international trends.
THHP: Is BIM a threat to jobs as we know them?
AM: BIM is no threat to jobs, at all! Currently, our industry continues to report the inefficiencies of current practices. BIM is a method that can help improve the delivery and maintenance of infrastructure. What I do see happening, is an emergence of new roles as the sector will be digitally migrating.
THHP: Are you involved in any initiatives to promote BIM in SA?
AM: I currently run focus group workshops with industry stakeholders (as part of my research), and the main focus is to come up with the best strategy for BIM implementation in SA.
THHP: Are industry bodies doing enough to promote BIM?
AM: The professional councils are doing a lot of BIM awareness, but the upskilling of professionals is my main concern. We need fewer talk shops and more human investments initiatives to manage this transition better. I fear the emergence of unaccredited training institutions that may want to monopolise on BIM training.
THHP: Do you think it helps if clients lead the promotion of BIM in SA?
AM: Yes! Research has shown that clients are and can be the biggest drivers of BIM adoption. When clients request BIM as a delivery method and make it mandatory, firms within the sector will have no choice but to participate in the process if they want to remain competitive.