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In Conversation With….Emma Hayes, Managing Director of Digital Built Consultants Ltd

08 August 2019

We are very grateful to Emma Hayes for making time to take part in this edition's interview.  An acknowledged expert in her field, Emma is actively involved in driving progress in the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the AEC industry.  She has presented research papers at international conferences such as the CitA BIM Gathering, and is involved in the BIM Innovation Capability Programme (BICP).  On the morning of 24 October, Emma will be sharing keynote observations with an invited audience in our Fenchurch St London office at a Chatham House Rule Market Led discussion on " Product Liability: Transformed by Technology on the Plant Floor?"  If you're interested in receiving an invitation to this breakfast event, please email Denise.O'Connor@dwf.law.

Ed: What drew you to the world of BIM?

EH: I was first introduced to Building Information Modelling (BIM) in 2010 when I had the opportunity to study a university module on BIM technology and process. Through research into the efficiencies and process improvements gained by the construction industry from the adoption of BIM I become convinced of the potential for clients and project stakeholders and wanted to investigate this industry 'game changer' further. In 2013, I studied part time for a Masters in Building Information Modelling Management.  Around the same time that I was introduced to the world of BIM I was working for PM Group, a large multi-disciplined AEC and Project Management organisation, who were just starting their BIM adoption journey.  Since I was an early adopter of BIM processes I was appointed as the Group BIM Manager for the organisation with responsibility for driving the Group BIM strategy as well as the development and roll-out of BIM processes across the organisation’s network of 18 offices in Europe, Asia and the US.  In 2018 I decided I wanted to share my experience of BIM implementation with other organisations just starting on their BIM Adoption journey and also be in a position to advise clients about the benefits of BIM so I launched Digital Built Consultants, a BIM and Digital Information Management Consultancy. We celebrated a year in business on the 1st March 2019. It has been a fantastic year of new opportunities and business partnerships. Over the last 12 months we have worked on diverse projects with many different clients. Some of the highlights from 2018 have been working with several clients from the design consultancy side of the industry to contractors in the construction area. These clients have either started their BIM journey but need our advice to get to the next level of BIM adoption and project efficiency or are at the very early stages and need guidance, advice and support to start their digital transition. We have developed long term relationships with our clients and continue to provide advice and support on an on going basis. Other highlights have been acting as client representative for building owner/developer clients where we give independent advice to our clients on BIM processes and what they can achieve with the adoption of BIM on their projects. We have had the opportunity to work in the pharma, mission critical, residential/commercial/hospitality and retail sectors over the last year.

Ed: What's your recipe for productive and successful teamwork on a construction project which uses BIM?

EH: BIM is about People, Process and Technology.  BIM data produced by skilled personnel using advanced modelling software which we can integrate with data from other project stakeholders through comprehensive model management supports improved collaboration.  Better collaboration processes deliver accurate, co-ordinated and clash resolved information throughout the project lifecycle. The end result of this process is delivering digital asset information to building owners and occupiers which can be used for Facility Management and maintenance of their built assets.

Ed: How bright does the future of your industry look to you?

EH: Over the last 10 years I have seen the construction industry transition to digital processes with the adoption of Building Information Modelling.  Digitisation, and the digital transition, has been an ongoing process of taking analogue information and converting it into digital formats such as web pages, online catalogues and cloud-based platforms. Other industries, for example finance, have embraced the digital transition because it allows them to handle information more efficiently. Technology such as the internet of things, mobile and web applications and artificial intelligence are empowering industries to completely transform their business and processes.  While our construction sector has embraced these new technologies, it has been a struggle to fully implement these processes.  Over the last 12 months I have seen a noticeable change in the industry with more widespread adoption of BIM processes.  There is a renewed appetite for implementing BIM processes and meeting Level 2 requirements, and the publication of the international BIM standards, ISO 19650 Part 1 and 2, has given our clients an opportunity to adopt international best practice standards that can be rolled out on projects at home in Ireland and abroad.  This will result in our industry delivering better quality projects more efficiently. The industry is also moving towards the utilisation of clouds databases where vast amounts of information about our projects such as cost, schedule and constructability can be stored.  In the future this data will be mined and analysed by artificial intelligence to allow the industry to make informed decisions about future projects.

Ed: Where does dressage fit into your busy world?

EH:  When I’m not working on BIM adoption, I enjoy training and competing with my horses at Dressage Ireland shows.  Spending time with horses is a great way to practice mindfulness since you cannot be stressed or anxious when you are around them.  I am very lucky to live in the countryside with my husband and menagerie of horses, dogs, cats and hens where I can truly unwind and enjoy the good life!

Ed: What's your favourite cartoon character?

EH:  Penelope Pitstop - I have been known to like speed (my new found love is polo)!

Further Reading