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Summer Series: BIM for Construction

This summer we are embarking on a summer blog series looking at technologies that are making an impact in the construction industry. But let’s back up first for a minute. It is worth saying first that BIM (building information modeling) isn’t exactly a technology.

Here at Constructech we have long said BIM is a process that enables data exchange between the different areas of a project and the different stakeholders. Theoretically, digital representations of the project—and the data associated with it—could be shared between the architects, engineers, construction professionals, and even the corporate owner.

Growth is predicted, due to government initiatives and other opportunities. MarketsandMarkets suggests the global building information modeling market was valued at $7.9 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach $15 billion by 2028, which represents a growth rate of 13.7%.

The concept has always been a beautiful one, but as with everything else there are always challenges. Some hurdles still holding back widespread adoption of BIM include cost, lack of skilled talent, and the need for greater interoperability—something we have been espousing for roughly 20 years.

The Case for Interoperability

Many recognize the need for interoperability in all parts of a construction project. Data that is easily shared is also easily accessed, creating greater efficiencies for all. Many providers have taken different approaches to creating this much-needed interoperability as it relates to BIM.

Some have made large acquisitions in order to bring multiple systems under one roof. Others have created key partnerships to exchange data. And some have joined alliances or groups to develop open standards.

One such group is the buildingSMART alliance, which launched openBIM several years ago. openBIM facilitates interoperability to benefit projects and assets throughout their lifecycle. It aims to ensure interoperability, open and neutral standards, reliable data exchanges, collaboration workflows, flexibility of choice, and more.

“(openBIM) makes a big difference. It gives our users the opportunity to expand their working relationships regardless of what software other people are using on a team,” says Julianna Gulden, senior manager, global communications, marketing success, Graphisoft. “Teams are getting bigger. Projects are getting more complex. Everyone is being asked to work in the same model. You don’t know who you are going to be working with and what kind of software they are on.”

The Case for Innovation

As projects are getting more complex, teams are getting bigger, and some workers are working on multiple different projects at the same time, ease of use and seamless data access becomes key.

Looking to the future, BIM will likely become even more integrated than it already is today. We can paint a clear vision of how this might be beneficial in construction. During preconstruction, data created in a model at the office can be used to schedule and estimate the project and can be shared with machines at the jobsite to turn the soil faster.

During construction, project managers can access and update RFIs (request for information), submittals, and other project data using devices and immediately sync with the office. At the same time, data from hardware in the field can be sent to workers anywhere.

At the end of the project, that same design and jobsite data can be packaged up for the facility engineers to act as a guide for managing every component throughout the lifecycle of the facility. And then of course, when the need arises for renovation, the data can be used to plan and manage future projects. This is where AI (artificial intelligence) can provide great value. Data from existing models can identify items like materials and parts, which helps streamline the ordering process on the next project.

To say the potential value of BIM is apparent would be an understatement. Of course, the construction-technology community must work to overcome many of the hurdles that still exist, while also keeping an eye on new, emerging trends.

At the end of the day, innovation as it relates to BIM continues in the construction industry and it will completely change how work is done on projects in the future. Next week we will dig a bit deeper into the topic of digital twins. If BIM is the process for leveraging data to visualize the design and construction of an asset, then a digital twin is the technology that enables the virtual interaction with that asset. And the digital twin is advancing at a very rapid rate, which is something we will explore in-depth in next week’s blog.

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