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The need for BIM Standards in digital construction

Updated: Apr 23

In the construction industry, the term 'standards' typically refers to published documents that define the common specifications, methods, and procedures that are to be used and contribute to producing effective collaborative processes and deliverables for all projects.

The reason that standards are vital to the construction industry is that the sector has significant problems that can be solved when applying a system or structure. For example, the traditional process often deals with uncoordinated drawings and numerous hours of layering drawings or the fact that the construction managers didn't receive the latest design changes.

Digitalization is transforming the industry and includes several technologies such as prefabrication, advanced building materials, 3D printing, autonomous construction, augmented reality, wireless monitoring, cloud, and real-time collaboration and Building Information Modeling, BIM. In this new digital world, we need to collaborate and communicate in a structured manner to control the digital flow of information and outcomes. The construction process is a complex ecosystem; without a system and a structured approach delays and errors occur, with a major impact on project time and budget.

The use of BIM is in rapid growth in the largest construction markets and many countries worldwide require the mandatory implementation of BIM in all public works. The countries that have enforced BIM through specific standards and procedures, such as the United Kingdom, have recorded the highest success rates. Other countries have developed national BIM standards, with many others planning to follow suit. However, in some countries, the lack of BIM mandates has led to private and public bodies creating initiatives with their own unique BIM standards, making it difficult to adopt BIM due to the need for construction professionals to adapt to different BIM standards.

Why are standards essential in BIM implementation? BIM is a process, and like any process, it requires standards and guidelines to ensure effectiveness and accuracy.

"Standards" can be Professional codes, Corporate technical specifications, Sponsored Standards, National standards, Regional standards, and international ISO Standards. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent body responsible for producing voluntary international standards.

To establish a common global language for BIM implementation, the ISO 19650 series of standards have been published progressively since 2018, building on the earlier British Standards as part of the BIM Level 2 suite of documents. The origins of ISO 19650 can be traced back to the need for greater standardization and efficiency within the construction sector. This arises from the sector's fragmented nature, which often results to inefficiencies, disputes, and costly project delays.

ISO 19650 series of standards are more than just a set of guidelines; they represent a significant shift in the way the construction industry operates. By prioritizing standardized information management, interoperability, information security, and health and safety, the international standard is introducing in a new era of efficiency, collaboration, and sustainability. As design and construction practices continue to evolve in the digital age, ISO 19650 stands as a testament to the industry's commitment to progress and excellence.

The international standard is currently implemented in many markets, such as Australia, China and USA, while in Europe, the interest of adopting the standard is increasing constantly. ISO 19650 supports global collaboration, creating a common ground for implementing BIM in different construction markets. This is especially important today where construction projects and teams are increasingly geographically dispersed, highlighting the need to adopt digital processes and establish a common language for digital collaboration.

Today, numerous startups and technology vendors invest in BIM-oriented workflows that support open BIM solutions, coordination, live sharing, and communication in a digital context. BIM is the heart of digitalization for the industry and is often referred to as the 4th evolution. The Fourth Industrial Revolution describes the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds and includes advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies. These technological advances are pushing the boundaries of the sector, while the construction ecosystem of the future requires a more standardized, consolidated, and integrated construction process that is product-based instead of project-based.

Standardization can support the industry towards the efficient definition and transfer of information, making informed and timely decisions, as well as adopting a unified approach for BIM globally. Standards may consist of a few pages and hundreds of words. Still, the real opportunity lies in the fact that the construction industry's nature, with the traditional workflows, the cultural gaps, the interoperability, and the execution issues changes. The new path for the construction sector is led by digitalization, innovation, and standardization.

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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