Mark Jacobson Appointed National BIM Operations Manager

AE Smith are long-term facilitators of Building Information Modelling (BIM) within the Australian construction industry

13 Nov 2013


Imagine buying a new car from Toyota and then having four engineers turn up at your house to assemble it piece-by-piece in your garage! It sounds ridiculous. But in many ways, that’s exactly how a lot of the Australian construction industry thinks right now

The use of BIM is still in its infancy in Australia, with the numerous time, money and productivity advantages only recently becoming more broadly recognised within the construction industry. Across the globe European and American markets tell a different story, where the adoption of BIM has allowed practitioners to survive in tightening economic conditions.

In a bid to define BIM industry best practice AE Smith have appointed experienced commissioning and engineering manager Mark Jacobson to the role of National BIM Operations Manager. Mark was previously the Head of AE Smith’s Commissioning Department for 10 years. His track record in significantly improving productivity and implementing effective field technologies has made him the perfect person for the job.

BIM will improve productivity in the construction industry

BIM is much more than just a 3D model. It provides the integral junction between technology, process and knowledge, enabling cohesive and integrated design, construction and management of a building project across all contractors. AE Smith has been a long-term facilitator of BIM on significant construction projects.

Mark points out that to improve productivity, you first have to look at process. The software interface that enables BIM is therefore only part of the solution. To this end, he will be reviewing the processes between internal departments, builders, contractors and facility managers to understand where the greatest opportunities lie to accelerate the acceptance and standardisation of BIM within the industry.

BIM as a construction strategy, not just a technology

One of the key challenges Mark will be tackling will be educating project contributors on BIM as a construction strategy. “BIM definitely relies on technology to store and share project information across the stages of design, construction and management of building services. But where it really starts to pay dividends is when we use that information to inform the builder’s critical path and provide our engineers offsite and onsite with current and accessible information allowing them to respond to changes quickly.”

“A great example of where AE Smith recently used BIM successfully was the Queensland University Engineering Building. All information was coordinated within the 3D model. We produced and installed prefabricated modules using parallel manufacturing principles and the commissioning team accessed all data digitally, with no paper in sight. All the information the commissioning engineers generated was entered straight back into our data management system. The Facility Manager now has an ‘as built’ digital record of the building services and we’ll continue to use the model to inform all servicing requirements. BIM was integral to delivering the project on time and under budget.”

A history of experience to define the future

Mark, who has been with AE Smith for over 15 years, has enough dirt on his boots to understand the complexities and challenges of implementing BIM within the construction industry. “This has to be a collaborative process. It can’t be executed on a blackboard. I’ll be getting everyone involved that touches a project. BIM will change the way a lot of people at AE Smith, and other companies, do their jobs. It’s important everyone contributes to what that looks like.”

No stranger to change, Mark’s first career choice was as a toolmaker. Working in the automotive industry gave him first hand experience of the cost efficiencies gained as car manufacturers began to digitally model tools replacing expensive prototype production. Mark points out the similarities to the changes the construction industry is now going through.

“Cars are only affordable to the masses because every player in the automotive industry improved their processes. Just like car buyers, our customers want a good deal. BIM can help the construction industry deliver that.”

Best practice for the country as well as AE Smith

Recently appointed to the National BIM-MEPaus Advisory Board, Mark will be a key stakeholder and influencer defining the future of BIM in Australia.

Whilst the definition of BIM best practice in Australia is still being defined, there’s no doubt the future of the Australian construction industry has already begun. Mark summarises the undeniable facts well.

“BIM helps eliminates waste. Waste of time, waste of materials and waste of man power.”