While the European Union strongly encourages digitalization of architecture, engineering and construction, being in the heart of the EU has not really helped Belgium move faster with technologies and processes like building information modelling and management (BIM).
“In Belgium it’s always step by step, and first of all we’re going to look abroad – to Holland, France, Luxembourg, Germany. What are they doing? Is it working? What exactly is working? How can we start doing that too?” says Peter Bruggeman, the BIM specialist at Arkance Systems in Brussels.
Having regions with distinct languages –Dutch in Flanders and French in Wallonia– has not helped speed BIM adoption either. As an example, Autodesk Revit, the dominant software platform for BIM here, is available with a French interface but not a Dutch one. “If you receive a file from a Flemish architectural office, it will be in English. If the constructor is French speaking, they’ll open it in the French version; half will be in French, half in English. That doesn’t work,” the consultant notes.
Poland is our next case study as we continue to review BIM use around the world with the help of our well-placed international partners. This analysis is based on an interview with Arkadiusz Leśko, a BIM expert at Arkance Systems Poland.
Procurement link is weak
Architecture, engineering and construction companies in Poland know a lot about building information management and modelling (BIM). They just have not had much opportunity to use that know-how. That’s because public sector building projects, which play a major role in this the European Union’s sixth biggest economy, still rarely offer space for digital construction techniques.
Indeed, ever since Poland joining the EU in 2004, the bloc has promoted and helped fund numerous very large projects for modern transport infrastructure and public facilities of all kinds. But “when it comes to the use of BIM in public tenders, it is not common. It is in fact rare,” says Arkadiusz Leśko, who as Technical Director for AEC and Infrastructure at Arkance Systems Poland advises stakeholders on both government and private-sector projects.
Drawing on the insights of our partners around the world, AGACAD is examining the status and specifics of BIM use in different countries. This time we look at Japan, in discussion with Mr Masanori Moriya, the CEO of M&F tecnica, a leading Japanese provider of ITC solutions for the building industry with offices in Tokyo, Saitama and Miyazaki. M&F have helped pioneer BIM in the country.
Japan is no stranger to modern technology and process efficiency. In many industries, Japanese firms have written the book on workflow optimisation. But in building and construction information modelling, or BIM/CIM as it’s generally called there, the country seems to be lagging internationally.
“The introduction of BIM in Japan is behind compared to other countries. The Japanese BIM market is still in the developing stage,” Mr Masanori Moriya says, adding: “Some believe this is due to unique Japanese business customs.”
The Guidelines for BIM Standard Workflows published by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in 2020 stress BIM cannot be promoted according to international standards immediately due to the way Japan’s construction industry functions. As in other countries, the document says, BIM guidelines should be based on ISO 19650 but customized for the local situation. “In other words, it says it is important to introduce BIM in a way that fits Japanese business customs,” Mr Moriya explains.
We continue to review the status and specifics of BIM use around the world, this time taking a closer look at the USA. The analysis is based on an interview with Geoffrey Jennings, the Director of BIModular, a global BIM consultancy and a North American partner of AGACAD. BIModular specializes in Design for Manufacturing and Assembly applications of BIM. It works with modular manufacturers, component fabricators, and architectural and engineering firms, mainly in the USA, Canada and France.
Significant and steadily increasing BIM adoption
Building information modelling (BIM) has reached the mass-adoption stage in the U.S. with its $1-trillion-a-year construction scene, BIModular Director Geoffrey Jennings says. That’s because enough architecture, engineering and construction professionals now understand BIM to make it accessible for projects and because tools and consultants are helping people realize the method’s amazing potential.
“Most disciplines now utilize BIM in their design process. Over 98% of large architecture firms in the U.S. have adopted BIM and over 30% of small firms use it for some modelling and documentation. The collective BIM adoption rate in the design industry is nearly 80%,” says Jennings.
He has been active in BIM design and helping others implement digital construction technologies since 2003 and sees the U.S. reaching a 95% adoption rate soon. But he admits most organizations are still mixing old and new methods – 2D drawings and 3D models – and it may take another decade to consolidate full-fledged BIM use across the country.
Sweden offers a great case study as we continue to examine the status and local specifics of BIM use around the world. This analysis is based on an interview with BIM/VDC specialist Patrik Lundqvist of COWI-owned AEC AB, Sweden’s leading supplier of IT software and services for the building industry and an agent and partner of AGACAD in the Nordic region.
Digital construction efforts in Sweden are widespread and significant. But, as in many countries, they are still dominated by an inefficient mix of new and old approaches and are mainly limited to the design phase. Given the lack of a government mandate for using building information modelling (BIM) methods, advances in this Nordic country are mainly being driven by bold project developers.
Testing the water without jumping in
People in Sweden were eager early adopters of computers and modern telecommunications. Like their Nordic neighbours, they also took an early interest in technologies for virtual design and construction (VDC) like the 3D modelling and data management that make up BIM.
This time we look at Germany together with two specialists at Contelos GmbH, a CAD solution provider and Autodesk dealer based near Hannover which has been working with clients of all sizes and industries all over the major European country since 1992.
Serious preparations to digitise the construction industry
In the digital transformation of manufacturing, Germany – the home of Industrie 4.0 – has an early lead. But in digitalizing architecture, engineering and construction, the country is taking more time.
Here we look at Norway with the help of Knut Sandvik, a construction engineer and IT professional with three decades of experience who works at Focus Software AS, Norway’s top provider of BIM solutions. Knut also teaches BIM at the university level.
Norway today is one of the world’s most advanced countries in BIM implementation. One reason is how early the government got involved in promoting digital construction. Statsbygg, the Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property, ran a BIM pilot project in 2005, published a BIM manual in 2008, and began requiring BIM use in public projects already in 2010.
“Finland was the first to have a government BIM mandate and then Norway and some other countries were second,” Knut Sandvik says. “The Norwegian state has been requiring the use of BIM for over a decade now, so everyone involved in big projects – hospitals, airports, operas and the like – has been doing BIM to one degree or another for quite some time now.”
Besides that top-down encouragement, Norway has also seen grassroots movement to BIM among designers, owners and builders. Sandvik says BIM adoption, while far from universal, is extensive and continues increasing: “You have all kinds of approaches to BIM, how to use it and how much, even when it’s not required. Almost everybody now uses BIM modelling tools – maybe not the methods, but the tools yes, and over time it is slowly seeping into their methods too.”
AGACAD is conducting a Global BIM Survey that draws on the expertise of its partners around the world to examine the status and local specifics of BIM in different countries. In this installment, we look at digital construction in the United Arab Emirates through insights provided by BIM experts at Dubai-based Generative Design Solutions Middle East (GDSME). This engineering solutions company has a great team in the UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar that provides innovative technology solutions and services to the construction and manufacturing sectors.
Use of BIM standards in the UAE
Clients and owners are free to specify what standards to use for planning projects in the Middle East. They generally use or take benchmark settings from well-regarded standards like the UK’s Level 2 or the international BIM standard ISO 19650.
The same is true of classification standards, which have not been developed specifically for the region. Many clients take the US-based Uniformat or Masterformat, or Uniclass 2015 from the UK. As for protocols, for now we are taking the Construction Industry Council (CIC) Building Information Modelling Protocol from UK Level 2 and developing that for the requirements of clients here.
Dubai, meanwhile, as one of UAE’s seven emirates, has announced and is following a roadmap to develop its own BIM standard, with a first phase of it published this year and a second phase planned next year, in 2022. Thus Dubai is playing a leadership role, though GDSME stresses that the country as a whole is quite mature in terms of the level and volume of BIM use.
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