BIMing Christmas

16 Dec

Every year Santa is asked by millions of kids to deliver them a Christmas gift. Doing that for hundreds of years he noticed that toy manufacturing is nowadays very efficient, the elves put a lot of thought into the design of the toys to ensure long life and to avoid the children not using or getting bored with   the toys after a few weeks for various reasons such as:

  • The toy did not meet child’s  design criteria or expectation
  • Poor quality and lack of maintenance by themselves or their parents leading to damage and scrappage
  • Limited information about toys consumable components and how to replace them

Touched by recent natural disasters such as the wildfires in Amazon forest, the flooding hitting Venice and being very angry about Climate Change that is damaging  the world we are living in, Santa decided to reassess the toy production industry. Focused on his goal to increase productivity and efficiency during manufacturing and improve the sustainability, quality and utilisation of the toys, so that the kids will use them for longer, Santa stumbled upon an article about how construction industry is trying to tackle similar issues using a process known as  BIM (Building Information Modelling).

Santa liked BIM but got very stressed because he couldn’t understand how it worked. Although his doctor advised him to visit a psychiatrist, he decided to visit Mr. Bim, the director of a civil engineering consultancy that specialises in implementing BIM in engineering projects. Mr Bim suggested Santa to read PAS1192 (ISO19650) parts 1 and 2 and to show him the benefits BIM principles can bring in his workflow, he asked Santa to see the construction of a toy as a building construction project. Mr Bim decided to challenge Santa and by asking his 5-year old daughter, Katie, to write a letter to Santa for a Christmas gift, he created a mock BIM project for Santa.

Receiving the EIRs…

On receiving this letter, Santa understood that Katie’s parents have been appointed as Employer’s Representatives. Complementary to this letter, he received a full document with the name Employer’s Information Requirements (EIRs) written by Mr Bim. Santa found the EIRs very useful, as they defined the information that will be required for the development and operation of the rocking horse.

Setting up the Common Data Environment (CDE)

To show his appreciation to Mr Bim for his help, Santa offered to use his server called DREAMS as a CDE to host all the information exchanges. He would store the files that the designers are in production in a work in progress (WIP) area, the ones that have been checked in the SHARED area. Once approved by Santa, the information will be send to Mr. Bim and his wife through dreams for authorization and after authorisation they would be moved into a PUBLISHED area.

BIM Execution Plan

Comparing the EIR Santa received with what the PAS 1192-2:2013 Cl.5.3 details as minimum requirements, Santa realised that this EIRs was a call for bidders and he had to respond to this. However, since he was already awarded the project by Mr Bim, he skipped the stage of producing a Pre-Contract BIM Execution plan (BEP) that demonstrates Santa’s proposed approach, capability and capacity to meet the EIRs and he composed straight to the Post-Contract BEP.

The purpose of the Post Contract BEP is to facilitate the management of delivery on the project. As defined in PAS1192-2:2013 Cl.7.2 Santa started compiling his Post Contract BEP including everything requested in the EIRs plus information regarding the management, planning and documentation, Standard Methods and Procedures as well as the IT solutions of the project.  

Roles and Responsibilities

Santa realised that he had many roles and responsibilities during this project. He was feeling that he was the project information manager, project delivery manager as well as lead designer. In response to Santa’s concerns, Mr Bim told him that it is absolutely fine to have one or more roles or split the tasks of each role to multiple people. He also made a point to him that all these responsibilities would be equally transferred from the lead design phase to lead contractor phase.

As well as at project level, there are also roles and responsibilities on a task team level. Santa asked Woodie, the elf that would be the task team manager for the design of the rocking horse, to create a table to show his team task responsibilities as well as the Task Information Delivery Plan (TIDP) that will reflect the deliverables of each team member. This document was important and needed to be included in the Post-Contract BEP.

Moving from design stage to construction

After Mr & Mrs Bim were satisfied with the digital representation of the rocking horse and the final outcome, they authorised the commencement of construction. Roles and responsibilities from the design team had been passed onto the manufacturing team “Wood Carvers”, who would cut the piece parts, assemble them together and Raphaelf the Elf would put the final touches with his creative painting. Everyone seemed to be happy and all was approved by Mr. Bim. After the rocking horse was ready, it was sent to “Wrappers” to prepare it for packaging.

Final stage for the handover, was the delivery. Finding a shipping company working the night before Christmas was a difficult task. Either they wouldn’t work that night or they would charge an extravagant amount of money for the delivery. There was only one company called Reindeers Ltd that was willing to work that day but their director, Rudolf, a very bright Reindeer with a red nose, requested a different type of payment: cookies and carrots. To ensure Santa the successful delivery of the project and to demonstrate how Reindeers deliveries move  so quickly, he decided to be present  for the delivery of the gifts. He therefore logged into DREAMS to leave a reminder for the Employer’s Representatives to leave enough cookies and carrots near the Christmas trees.

Lessons learnt

The day after Christmas, Santa was relaxing, looking to his magic mirror, to see the smiles on all the happy children’s faces. Assessing his experience with Mr Bim and the mock project he provided to him, he understood the importance of having the right information at the outset and that if changes are required, it is more cost effective to do at the earliest stages of the project. He also realised the importance of collaboration between the team members and how much time can be saved by getting it right first time. Last but most important, he was inspired by BIM and decided to develop his standards to suit the Christmas Industry by introducing a process called GIM (Gift Information Modelling).


Santa managed to understand and see the benefits of BIM. In the construction industry we don’t have a magic wand to make everything work perfectly first time; but we do have the knowledge, technology and inspiration to change things and make them more efficient. We have the ability to create a better world to live in.

Vicky Mastoridou
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