The aim of this research study is to understand the impacts of Building Information Modelling (BIM) on communication patterns of construction projects. This has been investigated through the identification of current communication patterns within the construction sector. A communication framework has been constructed which identifies a set of characteristics and defines benchmarks according to those patterns that can be managed during BIM implementation. This thesis has examined the issues surrounding the use of e-mail and BIM and addresses the potential that BIM has to increase electronic communication caused by traditional and disjointed working practices as well as lack of pre-defined communication protocols. This research finds that today the use of e-mail has become inevitable which promotes the exchange of documents as attachments. However, BIM is introducing new ways of working in which the industry is bound to move from a document-centric environment to a more data-driven environment utilising intelligent and data rich information models. The study continues to discuss that the integration of BIM as a collaboration platform is not as advanced as the industry sector perceives and proposes the necessity of a greater understanding of current communication practices, which can be addressed by the development of a conceptual framework of communication. This study has utilised a mixed method strategy with a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods and it was divided into two stages. The initial stage employed two research techniques; a pilot study and focus groups. This stage was largely exploratory and set out to understand and observe current trends with regards to construction communication and used an inductive reasoning to generate a hypothesis. The second stage of the study was explanatory to explain the impacts of BIM on communication patterns of construction projects using descriptive analysis as well as using deductive reasoning to achieve a clear demonstration and a validation of the hypothesis. During this stage electronic communication patterns and peoples‘ activities were critically evaluated via data mining techniques on a large dataset provided by a 4Projects, a Software as a Service (SaaS) company. Conclusions of the research highlight the potential for better understanding of the impacts of BIM on communication patterns though the development of a conceptual communication framework and the use of contextualised maturity models. This research has identified opposing views within the industry with regards to the impact of BIM on communication patterns within construction projects. These views are polarised into the belief at one extreme that BIM will lead to improved communication and at the other that BIM will lead to increased unmanaged and unreliable information exchanges during design and construction of projects. The results of this thesis also demonstrate a wide range of concerns around communication practices. These issues are due to the growth of the industry in relation to technology, organisation size, project complexity, cultural changes and innovation. Some of the key cultural barriers include; digital engineering capability and competency, cost-driven culture, shift from document and records management to data and information management, legal and commercial aspects of project contracts, collaborative frameworks, education, training and support and leadership in a digital construction which need to be resolved in order to obtain the most benefit from BIM as a collaboration platform.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - Oct 2016|