buildingSMART Australasia | BIM and Prefabrication: The new revolution
Creating a Better Built Environment

BIM and Prefabrication: The new revolution


Build Australia magazineThis following article has been written by John Mitchell, Chairman of buildingSMART Australasia for contribution to Build Australia Magazine – April Edition.buildingSMART Australasia will be regularly featuring in Build Australia Magazine. The current edition can be viewed here!


For many years now prefabrication has been seen as integral to greater efficiency in building construction. Earlier manual 2D CAD systems relied on a product of specified fixed characteristics, mass produced to reduce unit cost; however, this approach never satisfied design flexibility or innovation of product and led, in its worse outcomes of the post-war housing boom, to using concrete panels of small range and adaptability. An ugly truth.

Meanwhile, in advanced manufacturing sectors such as automotive and aerospace, techniques for mass production and robotic procedures have had a revolutionary impact, and now, with the advent of BIM, that revolution is extending into building and construction.

The advent of BIM has produced a reliable method to prototype in 3D objects and its adoption is on the increase, particularly in HVAC system disciplines and supply chains with the work carried out by BIM-MEP AUS. Its advantages are a relaxation of constrained product design, leading to better performing buildings enabled by optimised products with significant off-site industrialised pre-assembly and prefabrication systems. There’s no doubt prefab is on the move.

BSA Prefabricated Riser Modules for the nRAH, Hansen Yuncken Leighton Contractors Joint Venture

BSA Prefabricated Riser Modules for the nRAH, Hansen Yuncken Leighton Contractors Joint Venture

Examples of the successes of this new approach are the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Sunshine Hospital Development on Queensland’s Gold Coast where BIM and prefabrication combine to improve design solutions, bring greater consistency in building and manufacturing processes, reduce on-site errors, enhance a smarter and quicker facility development process, employ a more skilled workforce and add to increased safety.

So what are the key technical challenges to further advancing this integration and continuing the prefabrication revolution?

It’s buildingSMART’s central vision to have an Australasian building and construction industry that collaboratively shares and maintains information about facilities and infrastructure in a manner that optimises the quality and economy of regulatory approval, design, construction and operation of the built environment.

We encourage greater industry collaboration, communication and coordination to properly secure openBIM standards endorsed by government agencies – like transport, health and schools – as well as private sector owners to ensure universal acceptance and applicability.


Members of the BIM Framework Working Group. 
From Left to Right: Dan Jürgens, Sam Collard, Chris Canham, Teresa Scott, John Mitchell, Jane Montgomery-Hribar, Nicholas BurtNATSPEC, with support from groups like buildingSMART Australasia, AMCA (Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association of Australia), Construction Information Limited New Zealand, APCC (Australian Procurement and Construction Council Inc.) and
ACIF (Australian Construction Industry Forum), are preparing proposals to address this issue including the development of a National – Australasian – BIM Object library.  Excitingly, we had a real breakthrough on the 2nd December, 2014 for ‘whole industry’ collaboration when a national response resource was allocated to realise the adoption of a new Project Team Integration (PTI) and BIM framework across the Australian building and construction industry with “The Framework for the Adoption of Project Team Integration and Building Information Modelling”, a national first. The hope is this is but the first step in achieving the cooperation required to further advance the building and construction industries in Australasia.

The extension of BIM into the full suite of networks and infrastructure adds to this task, as well as providing new resources and the possibility to set up a truly Australasian process of implementation.


John MitchellJohn Mitchell is the current Chairman of buildingSMART’s Australasian Chapter as well as Principal of consulting company CQR Pty Ltd and Research Fellow for the Collaborative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living.

With a career founded in architecture, the central thread of John’s professional activity has been the application of computing in the field of architecture and design; however, John has always taken an interest in the broader context of the industry, particularly in the IT sphere.

From the early 90s John’s focus on applying, initially CAD, now BIM, has given him an in depth appreciation of the impact of IT on the entire construction industry, both locally and globally. He is passionate about articulating and implementing the business process changes organisations must make to exploit new technologies.


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