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How BIM & digitalization is transforming construction

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

This post presents my keynote presentation in the online event " A new digital era sector in Greece through BIM technologies". (organized by IsZEB, in collaboration with CERTH, Center for Research and Technology Hellas).


©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

For the full presentation, click on the arrows to change the slide

Click to watch the video presentation in the Greek language

Part 1: BIM & digitalization

In the construction sector, there are still significant challenges with a major negative impact on the project's productivity and performance. 69% of home owners report that contractor's performance is the main reason for poor project performance. Repetition is now a given. It is estimated that about 30% of the construction work is repetitive work. Labour shortages are a major issue for the industry. 80% of construction companies can not find the people they need. 34% of industry professionals report that the main reason for poor data and information derives from incorrect project data. In terms of productivity, the industry has only seen a 1% increase in the last 20 years. Finally, 93% of industry professionals report only a basic level of confidence in construction as an industry, and only 37% report high levels of confidence.

A survey by the Mc Kinsey International Institute shows the levels of the digitization of various industries in America. The research examined various factors such as digital works, the use of digital media, and others. The construction industry is at the lowest level of digitization in almost all categories.

Another study, (from the Fletcher School at Tufts University) maps the evolution of digitalization globally, (2008 to 2015). The research divides the results into four categories. The "stand out" countries have a high level of growth, such as Singapore and New Zealand, and the "stall out" have high levels of digitalization but lower growth, such as Denmark, Australia, and Sweden. The "break-out" countries have very low digitalization levels but are moving rapidly in this direction, such as China, Malaysia, and Bolivia. The "watch-out" countries do not have any development, and in fact, they are moving backward in some sectors. In this category, we can find Greece, along with Slovenia and Hungary.

BIM impact - links to the sector, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
BIM impact - links to the sector, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

BIM influences the company's structure and introduces a new collaborative way of working that affects the entire sector.

BIM plays an important role in transforming the industry, but BIM alone is not enough to make a huge impact. BIM is linked to other examples in the industry, such as integrated project delivery, which is a process that optimizes the industry, strengthens the owner, and increases productivity. BIM is also linked to off-site construction, by reducing costs and increasing the quality of projects. Lean construction is a construction method that minimizes waste in the project life cycle. BIM is also associated with smart cities and sustainability.

BIM and Data flow, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
BIM and Data flow, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

Information is the key to digitization.

In the first diagram above, the traditional flow of information and data between the various parts of a project is presented. If the client needs a piece of information, several pdf and, or excel files will be sent to him by email. In the second diagram, we can see the digital flow of information and data through a common cloud-based data environment (CDE). The client and all project participants have access to the data in real-time, allowing full transparency and control of the project. BIM models are based on data, which are used to manage the construction and measure real-time the facilities' performance. Digitalization improves data, making it more accessible, and integrated with other systems while facilitating maintenance and quality controls.

Software investments, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
Software investments, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

A recent survey by IDC and Autodesk shows that when it comes to investing in BIM-based workflows and software, Brazilian construction companies are in the lead, followed by Korea, India, China, and the United Kingdom. Planned investments are high in India, followed by the US, Australia, and Germany. The lowest planned investments are found in Singapore, Korea, and Australia.

Top challenges worldwide, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
Top challenges worldwide, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

In the diagram above, we can see the construction industry's challenges related to digital construction by region. The top challenge in the global construction industry is considered effective risk management. The second challenge is completing projects on time and budget and the third is the data and workforce security.

Part 2: BIM global adoption

4 pillars of BIM, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
4 pillars of BIM, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

The 4 pillars of BIM, EU

According to the EU BIM Working Group, the BIM process relates to four key areas: the process, people, technology, and policy. The process area includes the BIM standards, the methods and procedures that support the BIM process, the integrated project delivery, and the information management through international and national standards (such as the BIM Level 2 standards and the ISO 19650 series). The people sector is related to leadership, collaboration, owner involvement, and the development of skills. The field of technology relates to BIM models, simulation, and interoperability between different software solutions. Finally, the policy area is all about the integration and development of local directives and standards, contracts, and the BIM process's legal aspect.

BIM global adoption, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
BIM global adoption, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

© BIM Design Hub

Selected countries with BIM mandatory directives

The Figure above shows a list of countries that have adopted BIM through mandatory directives, (this is not a comprehensive list). In 2010, Norway required the BIM compulsory use for public sector projects, and the Netherlands in 2012. In 2014, the UAE decided on the BIM mandatory use for international projects and Hong Kong for all new housing projects. In the same year, France began developing 500,000 homes using BIM. France has also created a roadmap for the digital construction of infrastructure projects.

In 2015, Singapore issued a directive for mandatory BIM implementation in large-scale BIM projects and Sweden for transport projects. In 2016, both South Korea and the United Kingdom required the mandatory use of BIM for public sector projects. The adoption of BIM in China has increased significantly since 2016. China has not yet issued a mandatory directive on BIM, but its use is greatly encouraged. Scotland required the mandatory use of BIM for public sector projects in 2017 and Germany in 2020 for transport projects.

It is worth mentioning that the mandatory BIM guidelines are not equal between different countries and that BIM requirements are not the same everywhere. For example, in the United States, BIM requirements focus on technology, while in the United Kingdom, BIM requirements are based on standards, processes, roles, and responsibilities.

BIM global adoption, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
BIM global adoption, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

Organizations that support BIM adoption globally

Since 2011, in the United Kingdom, the government and the British Standards Institution, BSI have been developing BIM standards and guidelines to support the adoption and implementation of BIM through real projects. Today, a government program called Digital Built Britain is planning the strategic plan for BIM Level 3, (or stage 3 in ISO 19650 terms). In the UK, the UK BIM Framework, (by the UK BIM Alliance, British Standards Institution, and the Centre for Digital BIM Britain), sets out the approach to implementing BIM in the UK, using the information management framework based on the international standard ISO 19650. In the world, various organizations develop and support BIM adoption, such as the Building Smart International, EU BIM Task Group, Can BIM, the BIM Institute of Hong Kong, NATSPEC, AIA and others.

Standards in construction, Source: UK BIM Alliance, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
Standards in construction, Source: UK BIM Alliance,©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

What are the standards in the construction industry?

The Figure shows the hierarchy of the industry standards related to the construction sector. There are the professional codes, guidance, and best practices at the bottom, followed by the Corporate technical specifications. Next are the private and Consortia Standards and then the sponsored standards, e.g. the standards issued by BSI, called Publicly Available specifications, followed by the national standards, e.g., BS British standards. Next are the regional standards, e.g., EN European standards. At the top, there are the International ISO Standards, published by the International Organization for Standardization.

What is an ISO Standard?

An ISO standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics that are used to ensure consistency of materials, products, processes, and services. Standards help the construction industry to make more effective and efficient projects by establishing processes for design, construction, and manufacturing.

Did you know that ISO is derived from the Greek word isos that means equal?

UK BIM Level 2, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
UK BIM Level 2, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

What means BIM Level 2?

In May 2011, the UK Cabinet announced a long-term strategy to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and project sustainability in the UK construction projects. A key part of the strategy was the requirement to use 3D BIM collaborative processes in all publicly funded projects (both buildings and infrastructure) by April 2016. The mandatory BIM requirement was gradually implemented to develop new standards, specifications, and other tools that support the directive. The first goal was to implement BIM level 2 for public works. The diagram above is known as the BIM Maturity diagram, and although a UK standard, it is used by many countries to determine BIM levels.

The diagram describes the 4 levels for measuring BIM maturity, that extend from Level 0 to Level 3. BIM Level 2 requires a fully collaborative 3D BIM, with all project information, documentation, and data being electronic. While this requirement was initially introduced for government projects, the benefits of using BIM Level 2 processes were realized in the private sector and the global construction industry. The concept of "BIM levels" (and project compliance based on "BIM Level 2") has become the universally "accepted" definition of the criteria required for a project to be BIM compliant. Today, after the release of the ISO 19650 series, the term UK BIM Framework replaces the term "BIM Level 2".

How is ISO connected to the UK BIM Standards?

The original BIM Level 2 standard in the United Kingdom was used as the basis for developing the ISO 19650 series. ISO BIM principles are in line with the UK BIM standards with some changes in terminology. The ISO series consists of 4 documents. ISO 19650-1 and 2 refer to the digitization and organization of data on projects and buildings, including BIM. ISO 19650-3 focuses on asset business management, and ISO 19650-5 deals with asset management, digitally integrated environments, and BIM security. These new global standards aim to use an effective framework that will help builders and designers make their collaboration more efficient, improve all construction phases and all sizes and levels of project complexity.

So, why does BIM benefit from an international standard? BIM is used worldwide in different construction markets and is not equally defined in terms of standards and its implementation.

An international standard helps the industry agree on a common definition and a single process to increase the implementation process's efficiency and quality.

ISO BIM Maturity stages, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
ISO BIM Maturity stages, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

What is BIM according to ISO 19650?

The diagram shows the maturity of BIM according to ISO 19650. It follows the original UK diagram and defines four development areas: the standards, the ​​technology, the ​​information, and the business level. BIM levels are now replaced with the term stages, and the implementation of BIM according to the ISO 19650 series in a project is equivalent to Stage 2.

Therefore, to meet the ISO BIM 2 stage, the requirements are:

  • Common data environment

  • Structured and unstructured information

  • Information models (PIM, AIM)

  • The application of the standards ISO 19650 - 1, ISO 19650 -2

BIM collaborative working, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
BIM collaborative working, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

© BIM Design Hub

BIM Stage 2 collaborative working is based on the federated model, created by the separate discipline models' federation. In the federated model, teams can coordinate and control the project's discipline clashes, perform analysis and coordinate the project. The federated model can be also used for time management, (4D) cost analysis, (5D) facility's management, (6D), and energy analysis, (7D).

Part 3: BIM implementation

Crossing the chasm, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
Crossing the chasm, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

The diagram explains the concept of "Crossing the Chasm concept", which shows the different stages of adopting new technology. In the beginning, the Innovators are the first to invest in new technology since their main purpose is to invest in something new and innovative. The innovators are followed by the Early adopters, the visionaries who seek not only improvement but also a revolutionary discovery. The diagram shows that a new technology solution should first win the Early Majority, which will actually use it in a practical manner. The late majority are the people who believe more in tradition than in evolution. Laggards are the people who do not want to deal with new technology at any level.

BIM field players, Source; BIM Excellence, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta
BIM field players, Source; BIM Excellence, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

© BIM Excellence

BIM field players

To understand how BIM transforms an organization, we must first understand how BIM is adopted in the industry. The diagram above shows the 3 BIM implementation fields (technology, process, and policy), (source: BIM Excellence). The technology field includes the companies that produce software solutions and equipment. The BIM process players are the owners, architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, etc. BIM policy actors are the insurance companies, regulators, research centers, and educational institutions. The three fields overlap and share players and deliverables. For example, the development of the Open standard IFC requires the joint efforts of the policy players and the technology players.

BIM implementation requirements, BIM Design Hub
BIM implementation requirements, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

The BIM implementation requirements are summarized into 6 areas:

Digitization: BIM application requires a change of direction towards new tools and software.

Procedure: BIM is about collaboration and an integrated approach to the built-in environment that transforms current processes into digital workflows.

Technology: Technology includes software and hardware. You need to make sure you have the right technology to support your BIM goals.

Education: The BIM application affects procedures, frameworks, and documents, so a basic requirement is to train your team.

Standardization: BIM standards relate to interoperability, proposed protocols, guidelines, and specifications that guide the information exchange and collaboration.

Business guides: BIM drivers refer to financial conditions vital to the business's growth and success. For example, the UK requires BIM in public works since 2016.

BIM implementation strategy, BIM Design Hub
BIM implementation strategy, ©Panagiotidou Nicoleta

© BIM Design Hub

BIM implementation strategy, SMEs

The diagram above shows a simplified approach to implement BIM in small and medium enterprises. The strategy consists of 3 steps. The first step is to understand BIM, the long-term and short-term strategy, the financial requirements and investment, the new business model, and the legal and security issues. Next is the planning step and includes the BIM team, analysis of current processes, training, adoption of standards, software, and equipment. In the third step, the team starts a pilot project, collaborates with the rest of the project teams, monitors and controls the BIM process and the delivery phase. The feedback between the three stages improves the overall strategy and is essential for the successful BIM implementation in a company.

ISO BIM training by BIM Design Hub
ISO BIM training by BIM Design Hub

BIM online training, in line with ISO 19650

BIM training by BIM Design Hub introduces you to the concepts and principles of Building Information Modelling, BIM, in line with ISO 19650 and provides sufficient skills and knowledge of the BIM process, standards and guidelines that support the digitalization of the construction industry.

  • The BIM Foundations course provides an overview of Building Information Modelling in line with ISO 19650. It describes the principles and concepts of BIM, identifies the industry standards that support BIM implementation, and includes a reference to the UK standards applied to the BIM process.

  • The BIM Information Management course describes the activities that occur during the Information Management stages from the Assessment and Need until the Project Closeout.

or click below to see the video overview:

Author: Panagiotidou Nicoleta

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BIM training by BIM Design Hub introduces you to the concepts and principles of Building Information Modeling, BIM, in line with ISO 19650 and provides sufficient skills and knowledge of the BIM process, standards and guidelines that support the digitalization of the construction industry.

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