Digitalisation in the construction industry

• BIM = Building Information Modelling
• BIM = Building Information Management
• BIM = Building Information Model

The term BIM consists of all these concepts, but it really comes down to the process of digitalisation in the construction industry. BIM is not a revolution, but rather an evolution in the ways we work in construction. Data or the ‘I’ in BIM is central to the way the industry will achieve more efficiency and productivity through BIM. All in all, we should not think of BIM as something overly complex – it is the initiative to use technology to make construction better.

Digitalisation, construction and BIM

Richard Petrie the Chief Executive of buildingSMART International says “I am usually trying to talk about digital ways of working. This is partly because I think people have come to regard BIM as something like a model, something contained, but we are really talking digital processes, the business processes driven by data that cut through the construction sector and the built asset industry.

BIM equals digital ways of working. It is as simple as that. Digitalisation is a change that has taken place for many years in the automotive industry and is getting more pervasive in all aspect of our daily lives, from the way we shop to the way we travel. In a sense, BIM is also a change in the way we manage these digital processes in construction. It has to do with rethinking some habitual business processes and lifting them to the standards of the new market.

Generally, clients today want to make better informed decisions based on information, they do research, weigh the alternatives and choose a product that is best aligned with their subjective beliefs and objective requirements. That is why the consumer journey has changed in the last decade – there is ever more emphasis on the information acquired.

The same has happened in construction – building owners/ investors want to know what they are putting into a building. They want buildings to be greener, more efficient and to bring value to all the stakeholders. That is why to meet this demand the construction industry needs to employ the managerial principles that have proven to be successful in other sectors. Production needs to leaner, communication has to be standardized, transparency has to keeping everything inline within the supply chain… and all of this needs to be achieved through technology. This is where BIM comes in. BIM is digital, BIM is managerial, BIM is evolution.

So where does data stand?

Firstly, data is a driver for improvement and innovation. With real data you can operate much more rigorous processes from cradle to grave and throughout the whole life cycle of a building (or a business). That exactness that using data can give you is a real opportunity to be more efficient in your own practices and have to control a lot more of the risks. So there are benefits wherever you sit on the value chain, from having more rigorous business processes based on data. In order to do BIM, you have to have the data.

Secondly, data sells. Data is of a strategic value to the whole market worldwide, not only within the construction industry. As phones, refrigerators and cities are getting SMART it would be a huge loss for buildings and infrastructural assets not to be so. Clients want BIM, and they want BIM because they want to get data from each and every building product installed in a building, about each floor, about each supplier, about the performance characteristics they want to monitor. BIM is the vehicle that can supply them with data today – data that is easily understood by everyone, by all software and at any time.

BIM it is not an option – it is the best way to get data. That is what I think is exciting, the data starting to drive a little bit of the innovation and actually the acceptance of BIM” confirms Birgitta Foster, Vice President of Operations & Facility Integration at VDCO Tech.

BIM is not just a model

Hopefully, with the help of companies such as coBuilder more and more people will realise that BIM is not just about 3D models. It is important to spread the message that BIM is an opportunity to look at what we are doing right in a building process and what we are doing wrong through technology. BIM is the initiative that will help us achieve the step change in productivity and efficiency, but only through the proper utilisation of digital data.