Digitalization of the construction industry: Building Information Modeling
The construction industry is closely correlated to a countries economy, as economic growth leads to infrastructure investments. Considering the importance and the size of the construction industry, it is surprising that innovation and digitalization were neglected over the past 30 years. Digitalization, innovation, and industrialization are all steps, which ultimately lead to efficiency, effectiveness and new opportunities. Innovation in the construction industry helps to ensure more safety, cost reductions, new businesses opportunities, and better resource utilization. This article will not focus on the shortcomings of the past decades; instead, it will focus on a true innovation for the construction industry: Building Information Modeling.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
What is BIM?
BIM is a visual representation or a virtual prototype of a construction project, commonly in 3D. It can be applied over all construction phases and on all sorts of construction projects, from buildings, over city planning to infrastructure system. With more development and investment into this technology, BIM now guides through the whole life cycle of a construction project. BIM is often referred to as Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) or Virtual Building Environment (VBE).
Innovation in the Industry
In the recent past, Civil Engineers have been using BIM for different construction projects like railway road construction and infrastructure projects. The Civil Engineers have to be in close coordination with the architects to discuss different alternatives that will be best suited for the construction project. This is a whole new ball game for all the major players in the construction industry. The project starts with the digital representation by creating a reliable and coordinated design of the project. The end result of this stage is a 3D model of the infrastructure project. This model can be altered at any time during the construction process to see the effect of the different implementation alternatives on the project. Thereby it also helps to inform all involved parties about construction project delays, estimated project completion or budget estimates.
Benefits of BIM
BIM is a relatively new technology in the market; naturally, there is some resistance in the market into accepting it. However, it already showed significant advantages in comparison to existing planning methods, like:
- Increased Visualization
- Increased Productivity
- Increased coordination and improved documentation
- Low cost of doing business
- Increased Speed of recovery
Apart from the advantages mentioned above, BIM creates awareness for sustainability, creates new opportunities for different design projects, promotes design technology, reduces operational clients and plans in advance project shortcomings.
BIM Goes Global
Various countries have already applied BIM in their planning process. In Europe, almost every country is asking for an integrated adoption of the BIM System. This will not only improve the software interoperability but also improve the communication between the different players in the construction industry. Some of the countries that have adopted BIM are the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Canada and America are one of the early adopters of BIM Technology. The Canada BIM council, founded in 2008, actively works on standardizing the BIM processes for the construction industry. Reports suggest that through new BIM techniques, the operational costs for construction projects can be reduced by 30%. Considering that BIM is already successfully applied in every major country, there is more technological advancement to be expected from this technology.
Author: Seyed Hasan