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Date: 12th July 2019
Categories: General

BIM: A look into the crystal ball of construction management

Since the conception of Buildots, we have seen dozens of leading construction companies struggling with implementing BIM in their business. This sparked a personal interest in why this is happening, and when this will change…

The value of BIM

BIM dramatically improves design and planning for projects, which streamlines the execution phase. Better designs reduce the need for on-the-fly decision making on-site, which in turn increases the rate of production and reduces error. Thoughtful planning therefore makes the programme more realistic, and the process a lot more predictable.

The problem arises when the complex business model of our construction industry makes it difficult for decision-makers to choose BIM for their projects. For a main contractor, choosing to implement BIM can be very costly, with clients not always seeing the value of this.

Over time, BIM usage is increasing. Some construction firms have even started leading the BIM coordination themselves to create a proper “manufacturing model” for their projects. However, the process is still slow and hasn’t been adopted by all.

Limited direct value

Indirect value created by better designs and plans is great, but what about direct value? You will find rather limited options when mapping the values that a construction team can gain directly from having BIM on their project, with the following available:

  1. AR solutions that help imagine and validate construction
  2. Scheduling and sequencing (4D BIM)
  3. Costs (5D BIM)

I’d be happy to learn about any other examples out there but, for now, it’s safe to say that the value is limited and far from being a core part of the project’s day-to-day.

The result of this is that the construction team doesn’t really see enough value coming from BIM. As long as that is the case, main contractors will not use all their influence to truly drive BIM adoption forward.

A change is coming…

A number of startups have adopted the vision of turning BIM into the project’s digital twin, and their success would mean opening a whole world of value to explore.

This is big. Huge actually. The existence of digital twins for construction sites means we can finally provide our managers with modern process control tools that have only been available in other industries until now.

Think of a digital twin as a crystal ball, which has all the answers regarding the expected, current and historical status of your project. With this in mind, many questions could be answered with a click of button:

  1. How many sq. meters of drywall are we missing? How many sq. meters are we expected to install next week according to our current pace?
  2. How many electrical outlets have we installed last week?
  3. Are 1st fix works across the project moving at the right pace?

Asking direct questions is only the first step. Scientific fields such as anomaly detection, process optimization and various data analysis tools could finally impact and improve the way we build our homes.

This is not a dream

Thanks to breakthroughs in the fields of Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence, companies such as ours have been finally able to develop the technology that will achieve this digital twin at production grade in construction projects. Soon, the extent of the value contractors get from BIM will go beyond “better designs” and will change the way we build.

In my most recent article “How can we use data to tackle the process management challenges in construction?, I discussed how we can use data to tackle process management challenges in construction. The digital twin is a natural and critical part in this vision.

Feel free to contact us and learn more. We are always looking for collaborating and partnering with individuals/companies that share our vision.

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