The Construction Industry Goes Digital

The Construction Industry Goes Digital

30th October 2015

The UK government has set a 2016 deadline for mandatory inclusion of Level 2 BIM across all public sector construction projects.  BIM has been in the news for quite some time now and construction firms that have invested in digital processes are likely to become industry leaders as they reap the rewards of their foresight and efforts. 

Research undertaken by technology provider 4Projects by Viewpoint reveals that there are some compelling arguments in favour of an investment in BIM technologies, the least of which is a return on investment and a clear financial advantage.  BIM revolves around the sharing of digital data – creating, managing and sharing electronic models of the properties of an asset throughout its lifecycle.  This sharing of data can lead to reduced building costs, a reduction in waste, faster project delivery, enhanced solutions, increased sustainability, a decrease in risk and an improved performance.

However, the biggest challenge with BIM (and the reason that it’s needed a government directive to encourage and ensure adoption by the industry) is that all of the contributors on a project need to be on board and work to the agreed set of standards.  If the construction industry thinks that waiting until 2016 before adopting BIM is the way ahead, it needs to rethink this strategy or get left behind.  The latest statistics outlined to the BIM Technologies Alliance show that £20 billion of government procurement funding is already in the market with BIM deliverables – that’s about 50% of the construction work commissioned by the government each year.  There is plenty of work on the way for the construction industry and it will require teams to delivery BIM in the next year. 

While the industry is able to cope with Level 2 BIM deliverables which are relatively straightforward, Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) may be seen as perplexing to some.  COBie is a spreadsheet that contains digital information about a building in a complete and easy to use format.  COBie is designed to offer consistent, structured asset data that is useful to the owner/operator to be used in post occupancy decision making and aims to make the handover process to building owner/operators easier.

The government’s Digital Built Britain strategy document maps the future of BIM.  In the future clients will be able to compare assets across multiple sites as all building portfolios will be created using the same set of standards.  Building models will interact with services like Google Maps to provide visitors to public buildings information on how to get there and what’s inside when they arrive.  Managers of facilities across the UK will be able to include real time weather data from the internet into the model and choose what sort of information they want to be available to users of the facilities. 

Big Data is coming to the construction industry and it’s coming now.  Other sectors are already on board with this type of technology and using it in a sophisticated manner.  It’s time for the construction industry to step up to the plate and face the 21st Century with all the advantages that modern digital technology has to offer.