Nick Nisbet, Technical Coordinator for buildingSMART UKI details how the UK can meet the vision set out in the Construction 2025 strategy…
Our industry’s vision of 2025 includes four stark ambitions: 33% lower costs, 50% lower emissions, 50% faster delivery and 50% improvement in the import/export balance. But these are not just ambitions, they are included because they are necessary for an economically sustainable industry. The elements of this vision are not 10, 5 or 2 years away. Every aspect exists and has been demonstrated in construction or rival industries, in the UK or, more often, elsewhere.
But will they be achieved and how?
Let’s take the impacts, cost and carbon first. Let’s hope that we don’t achieve these targets by building smaller bridges and colder buildings. We are going to need continuous prediction/evaluation so that the expected performance is known from concept through to operations, and we need to close the gap between prediction and reality, for capital and running costs, for embodied and for energy carbon. We are going to have to take a continuous view on the balance between these – using nD value engineering from project initiation onwards, not as an afterthought.
Faster delivery will mean a radical approach to our processes: efficiency means right-first-time, it means pulling verified information from the design and the supply chain, it means modern methods of construction where off-site fabrication reduces, not increases the risks of failed interfaces. In many cases it will need automated design processes so that knowledge can be re-used, as well as creating a circular economy, durability and reusability for construction components.
Perhaps the hardest to grasp is the 50% improvement in the balance of trade in construction: can we develop the skills, the products and the services that will be in demand when the global industry reaches for the self-same goals? What kind of products will the world want? Clearly anything that is self-maintaining, from dirt-repelling glass to self-calibrating BMSs, anything that can fit flexibly into many climates, environments and culture. The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to need an internet of data automation (local intelligence) to make sense of it. A truly smart meter is the one that remembers to turn off the heating before you go out, not the one that demands more energy from the power station.
So what are the key ingredients? For proper predictive tools, we will need to harness “Linked Open Data” (the Semantic Web) representing our facilities with other datasets representing the geography, metrology, transport, services and other ‘urban’ services. Onto this virtual skeleton we will be able to associate all sorts of big data, and more importantly, analyse it continuously.
Such continuous assessment will be supported by precise process management and automation. Our PAS 1192 diagrams will become the script – imagine the packets of information being sent and received to be assembled just as accurately and systematically as any automotive or warehouse assembly robot. No one will be allowed to take their information off-line, to languish on a plan-table pending review or approval.
All this will mean that the client and the supply chain will see the world through trending graphs, analytical dashboards and dynamic 3D, 4D and 5D visualisations, BPMN charts, Sankey diagrams and Gantt charts.
Big data does not mean chaotic data: big processes do not mean unplanned processes, large vocabularies does not been arbitrary language. Luckily, buildingSMART has been working to bring the IFC data schema, the dPoW (Digital Plan of Work) process planning tools and the industry data dictionary (IFD) to a position where they are ready for use.
Of course, buildingSMART still has a few infrastructure gaps to fill, and the industry needs to shame the vendors that can’t use IFC as background information. But with the Semantic Web definition of IFC adopted, and other Semantic Web resources planned, the era of occasional model file transfer, occasional checking and occasional reuse of attributes can be put behind us. BIM Level 2 will soon be remembered as just a minimum level of performance, an industry MoT in an era of high performance delivery. ■
Nick Nisbet is the Technical Coordinator for buildingSMART UKI and active in buildingSMART International and a number of committees laying down the route map to 2025:
• BSI B Construction B555 Information
• CEN TC 442 BIM
• ISO TC59 Buildings and civil engineering works
SG13 Organization of information
• ISO TC10 Techncial product documentation SC8 Construction Documentation
He can be contacted at nn@buildingSMART.org.uk
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Tel: +44 1494 714933