Building Information Modelling - shaping the future of the European construction industry
When Europe was hit by the financial crisis in 2007, the Spanish economy imploded. Housing prices plummeted – down 45% from 2007 to 2015 – and public infrastructure and building investments came to a near-standstill. The crisis impacted particularly the construction industry negatively; with industry output falling to an all-time low in 2011.
Fast forward to 2014 when the economy turned and Spain had the fastest growing construction industry in Europe. Still recovering, office rents and home sales continue to increase into 2017.
Political stability, however, remains an issue and the resulting insecurity about the fate of planned government projects puts pressure on the ability of construction companies to develop new, smarter ways to build.
Reducing cost and increasing efficiency
BIM is the new paradigm shift in architecture, engineering, construction and facility management.
When BIM software is utilised fully in the planning and execution of architectural and engineering projects, it produces a three-dimensional model of the project containing information on the properties of all elements that make up the model.
BIM software simultaneously updates the representation of physical objects in the model when an object is changed. In addition, BIM instantly updates information for all objects, so they can be displayed in quantity tables or be exported to spreadsheets or budgeting systems. Most construction professionals agree that BIM contributes to a more efficient, transparent and productive sector.
At the recent European BIM Summit in Barcelona, the Catalonian Minister of Territory and Sustainability Josep Rull highlighted the ability of BIM to reduce costs and increase efficiency in construction by “guaranteeing minimum budget deviations and to facilitate the later maintenance of the building or construction".
A European initiative
The conference saw speakers from a host of countries and backgrounds discuss best practices, innovation and cases related to the use of BIM, among them Stanford professor Martin Fischer who focused on Integrating Project Delivery (IPD) as the key emerging working method that utilises BIM and other software solutions to turn project stakeholders into a collaborative team, thereby drawing on the skills and knowledge of each party to optimise the project for all involved.
Mads Bording, Group COO of RIB Software SE, joined forces with a.o. Sam Allwinkle of Edinbughr Napier University, Carlos Velázquez of ROCA, and Christophe Castaing, Chairman of the EFCA BIM task force to discuss the future of BIM, including Industry 4.0 and the transformation of construction into an advanced industry with full utilisation of digital processes.
At the Summit, it was decided to form a European BIM Observatory to monitor and periodically compare the implementation of BIM in Europe. President of buildingSMART Spanish Chapter, Sergio González, said that “this system of continuous assessment must contribute to the development of harmonized BIM in the European Union “. This is an attempt to coordinate the efforts made by different countries to help them converge on a common approach in order to develop a competitive digital construction industry across borders.
Ann-Charlott F. Boynton