Kingspan Industrial Insulation, a market leading manufacturer of premium performance pipe and duct insulation systems are the latest big-name firm to be unveiled as patrons of a special training suite to help West Midlands construction and manufacturing firms get to grips with advanced construction skills and emerging digital engineering technology.
The new BIM (building information modelling) technology centre which is located within the main campus at Sandwell College in Spon Lane, West Bromwich will coach essential skills to vocational and full-time engineering students. BIM is a universal means for sharing digital-engineered building designs and product data between clients and suppliers. Since April 2016, all public-sector capital-build projects must comply with BIM Level 2 legislation, so it is vital that the construction workforce and the next generation of engineers are confident and have the essential skills in using it.
To help SMEs adopt BIM and remain competitive in the construction and engineering sectors, Sandwell Council, working in partnership with Sandwell College and the University of Wolverhampton has opened the 16-workstation facility with support from Kingspan, one of the UK’s most successful pipe insulation manufacturers. The new West Bromwich facility has BIM embedded into the student curriculum features BIM viewing software, e-learning platforms and vocational training in CAD skills, 3D modelling, engineering design services, product design and BIM object creation. It is a unique partnership and a UK first between a college, university and a local authority.
The new BIMwm suite feeds into a wider, highly innovative project also being pioneered by Sandwell Council: the West Midlands Virtual Hospital (WMVH). WMVH is an online 3D simulation of a modern hospital, embedded with a BIM platform. The digital-engineered online hospital portrays the real-life £430m Midland Metropolitan hospital (MMH) that is currently being constructed. WMVH will act as an online BIM demonstrator and product library. It is essentially a comprehensive directory of locally manufactured products and BIM compliant suppliers, with a visually appealing and easy-to-navigate 3D design. Clients can select suppliers they would like to work with, designers, architects and engineers can download BIM objects linked to product data and product specifications from suppliers who interest them. It makes it easier to source products and components responsibly and locally.
Council Paul Moore, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Investment, said: “Our aim is to put the West Midlands at the forefront of BIM adoption, not just locally, but globally. We want to raise the significant career opportunities that BIM presents and Kingspan has been able to help us achieve this by sponsoring our BIMwm training suite. “We’re delighted to have a large and successful international company such as Kingspan helping the regions SME’s to adopt BIM and access new clients through the digital marketing of their products and components.”
Carl Davison, Technical Services Manager at Kingspan Industrial Insulation, said: “At Kingspan, we recognise the opportunities that BIM presents and have seen the advantages of fully integrating it into our approach when working with every aspect of the construction process. By sponsoring the suite, Kingspan is supporting Sandwell’s vision for adopting BIM whilst coaching the next generation of construction engineers. The West Midlands Virtual Hospital is a great showcase for BIM and the more we can support and raise awareness of BIM amongst the supply chain, the better. The BIM suite is made up of twelve workstations and will provide support for all skills levels, including apprenticeships, to suit different roles and vocations.”
Sandwell Council’s unique approach in creating both the WMVH and launching the BIMwm suite has been recognised on a regional and national level, winning several prestigious awards. These include the 2015 National Construction News Awards for BIM Initiative of the Year, procurement award for small business friendliness in 2014 and 2015 from the Federation of Small Businesses. Sandwell Council was also Winners and National Finalists at the prestigious Celebrating Construction Excellence 2016 Awards.
To date, over 1,000 users (including public sector clients, architects, buyers, suppliers and support service installers) have registered to use BIMwm, uploading details of thousands of products and components supplied and manufactured locally. Sandwell Council also arrange weekly BIM workshops which feature their construction contractors BIM teams and are themed West Midlands regeneration projects, resulting in over 240 regional companies learning about how to equip themselves with vital BIM skills.