Thursday, October 31st, 2013 - AE Smith

Summary of Story

AE Smith are long-term facilitators of Building Information Modeling (BIM) within the Australian construction industry. Now, with the broader Australian construction industry becoming increasingly aware of the numerous time, money and productivity advantages of BIM, AE Smith have made a further commitment to BIM capability with the appointment of National BIM Operations Manager, Mark Jacobson.


The use of Building Information Modeling (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. Jacobson has been with AE Smith for 15 years, previously as the Head of AE Smith’s Commissioning Department for 10 years and Queensland Engineering Manager for 5 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

Jacobson comments on his new role, “There’s no shortage of challenges in the construction industry and improving productivity and delivering even greater benefits to AE Smith’s clients is a challenge I’m excited to sink my teeth into. BIM definitely provides that opportunity.”

BIM is much more than 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.

Jacobson 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 provides the central digital interface to visualise, track and record the impact of our collective processes during the construction phase and for the whole lifetime of the building,” Jacobson says. “But, the digital model itself has limited value until we have consistent, effective and standard working practices to interface with it.”

As a novel way of reviewing the processes that surround BIM, Jacobson will be tracking the real-life journey of various mechanical parts. “Every individual part is progressed through innumerable processes from their inception in the design stage, through procurement, manufacture, transportation, installation and commissioning. By viewing processes from the perspective of the part itself, I’ll be able to identify process duplication, potential modularisation, clashes, critical path enhancements and opportunities for contractors to work more collaboratively.”

BIM as a construction strategy, not just a technology

One of the key challenges Jacobson 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 builders critical path and provide our engineers off-site and on-site with current and accessible information allowing them 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

Jacobson, 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, Jacobson’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. Jacobson 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 clients 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, Jacobson will be a key stakeholder and influencer defining the future of BIM in Australia. The industry body has the responsibility to standardise industry BIM practices, models, workflow and software for the Australian construction industry.

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. Jacobson summarises the undeniable facts well. “BIM eliminates waste. Waste of time, waste of materials and waste of man power.”



[High resolution images available on request.]

Image captions:

  • Mark Jacobson, AE Smith National BIM Operations Manager & National BIM-MEPaus Advisory Board Member.
  • BIM model by AE Smith of the Queensland Children's Hospital (QCH) trigeneration energy plant.

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AE Smith

AE Smith is a BRW Top 500 Private Company with a team of more than 700 people in 9 offices throughout Australia. AE Smith delivers practical solutions in air conditioning, building services and energy efficiency. Established in 1898, AE Smith remains proudly 100 per cent Australian owned and operated.
Raymond Lee
P: 03 9271 1999
M: 0411 698 342


BIM, Building Information Modeling, Construction, Mechanical Services, HVAC, Building Services, Energy Efficiency, Air Conditioning, HVAC, BIM-MEP, BIM-MEPaus




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