BIM expert Steve Cooper, vice president Europe at Oracle Construction and Engineering discusses how Building Information Modelling (BIM) will evolve in 2019
A Zion Market Research report predicts the market for Building Information Modelling (BIM) solutions will reach $10.36bn by 2022. Governments have been mandating the use of BIM across infrastructure projects throughout Europe and beyond to streamline major development projects. For project delivery teams, BIM can help increase productivity; for owners, it can offer more project-delivery oversight, risk mitigation, and easier handover of the built asset.
In addition, more businesses are looking to deploy a common data environment (CDE) across a project or organisation. A CDE enables robust, secure collaboration and enhances visibility across teams to improve benchmarking, quality control, risk mitigation, and asset handover, among other areas.
The increased adoption of these tools can only be encouraged in an industry that is looking to digitally transform, but there’s an underlying challenge. Ask random people working across different teams on the same project what BIM is and you’re likely to get a number of differing responses. Ask them what a CDE is for, and again, there will be a range of answers. This lack of standardisation and consistency is a huge problem that the construction industry needs to tackle, particularly if we’re to capitalise on the data-focused technology innovations entering the market.
The confusion around BIM is common knowledge, and the myths and misinformation can act as a deterrent to broader adoption across the industry and for all teams on a project. Some think it’s merely a technology, or that it only refers to 3D design (though 3D models are indeed at the core of BIM). Still, others believe it’s only used on big projects.
The reality is BIM needs to be looked at in a new light. Enabling a connected, collaborative BIM process for all teams – using a CDE platform – can put all the project detail, communications, information and data in one place. But if the process is siloed or otherwise disconnected, you end up with versioning issues, duplication, wasted time, limited collaboration and a lack of transparency. And you definitely don’t end up with a digital twin, if that’s the aim.
If we’re not getting the use of BIM and the CDE right across organisations or projects now, how are we supposed to benefit from the data collection and analysis opportunities from the likes of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, sensors and other technologies enabling smarter construction.
First and foremost, we need to be able to trust the data. The expanded rich data set enabled by these new technology innovations can be used in various ways such as helping us identify and manage issues before they become too challenging; predicting build schedules based on plan changes and deviations; creating a secure and safe environment for workers; as well as providing visibility over assets and materials.
All of this helps to address the issues the industry has traditionally struggled with such as productivity, projects going over budget and running over schedule, as well as quality control.
Overall, there needs to be better education around the type of BIM solutions to use and what a CDE should be and for whom it is intended. The demands on a CDE are different depending on whether it is for a project or for an owner/organisation.
Modern BIM solutions need to be connected, and they need to provide the security and certifications needed to instil confidence in users. We need to use fewer applications across BIM projects to manage the data better and have more certainty at handover. In some instances, the goal might be to create a digital twin that is trustworthy and tells the entire project story.
Taken together, these attributes can encourage wider and better use of BIM among contractors and across the industry as well as a more informed view on what a CDE should be. This, in turn, can provide much more benefit to both a project and to owners.
Vice president Europe
Oracle Construction and Engineering
LinkedIn: Oracle Construction and Engineering