The house building sector’s digital transformation is underway, yet while some parts of the sector are fluent in building information modelling (BIM), common data environments (CDE) and the internet of things (IoT) and more (with 3D modelling being one of the main methodologies and processes that’s changing the landscape), others are resistant to change. Buildots’ co-founder and CEO, Roy Danon, offers some insights into why BIM is the single enabler for many modern technologies that are being developed for the sector and explains how critical it is for companies to adopt this technology.
The construction industry’s digital journey encompasses many aspects including apps, AI, IoT and other bespoke software. They are becoming increasingly important across construction projects because businesses are realising that complex processes are made easier with the aid of technology. With digital solutions, risks are being mitigated and what were once arduous programmes of work are now far more efficient and seamless.
But the technology that’s making the greatest difference is BIM, which is at the core of the industry’s digital offering. BIM is the first time that the industry has an agreed end-product that it’s aiming to create through its delivery process; it’s the first time the different pieces of the puzzle are properly coordinated. It is therefore creating (well, in most cases) an agreed goal for the first few years of construction’s process.
For example, Hilti recently announced its Jaibot, a robot aimed at replacing some of the repetitive and dangerous works conducted on site. It requires good and final plans to operate, otherwise it will not be able to drill holes properly. Other technologies, such as AI-based programme generation and optimisation, need BIM to fully grasp the complexity of the project it is planning and provide the best course of action.
At the centre of operations
In the case of us, Buildots puts BIM at the centre of a site’s day-to-day operations. It leverages the capacity of off-the-shelf 360-degree cameras to inject as-built data into BIM models, creating a perfect view of the status of works. On top of the live model, an advanced dashboard system creates the construction control centre, showing progress reports, monthly valuations and flags any divergences from designs or programme.
Once the model becomes live, other participants can tap into the model to receive real-time progress information, to trigger shipments, streamline payments or generate better execution plans for the following week.
Construction companies that invest in creating workflows around BIM are well positioned to quickly leverage new products that can directly affect their bottom lines.
Growing BIM adoption
The NBS’s National BIM Report 2019 highlights a 60 per cent increase in BIM adoption from 2011 to 2019. The government’s Construction 2025 targets will further help BIM to raise its profile. To fulfil the government’s targets, many contractors and asset owners are turning to smarter and greener methodologies and processes. BIM’s enabling value plays an important role in this case because these parties will want to be able to predict their footprint prior to construction and measure it once an asset is in use.
BIM’s value will become further recognised as the industry strides towards greater quality and traceability. Dame Judith Hackitt’s golden thread of information has been lauded as one of the most prominent methods the industry should adhere to in order to ensure best practice across the board. To align with this process, there will be greater demand from companies to know and understand the role of visible data within an asset or project. Having a clear audit trail of what has been done, who did it and how it was installed will create this all-important golden thread of information. It will also highlight the value of data. Instead of gathering dust in a filing cabinet or stowed away on a server, data will be essential to informing the decision-making process regarding a building’s performance.
This is where the concept of connected data comes in. Historic data stored across multiple, disparate silos could theoretically be of use to the asset owner, yet the way in which it is held often renders the information inaccessible and inefficient. At the same time, neither can this data help to craft a reliable like-for-like image of how a building is performing; old data is a reference of what occurred and not necessarily a tool that confidently reports on how an asset is currently operating.
In the case of the data created using Buildots, in addition to the immediate value for the construction project team, the collected historical data of multiple projects can be combined to create even greater value. A construction company could use that to benchmark its projects and activities, decide how to better plan its next projects or focus on construction methods that are more suitable for its particular workflows and expertise. It creates opportunities to identify repeated problems or common bottlenecks throughout the company’s entire portfolio of projects and then develop new workflows and processes to avoid those in the future.
Although many housing and construction businesses are resistant to change, BIM should turn the heads of many sceptics because it offers so many benefits, particularly because we expect many of the new construction technologies to only work on BIM-enabled projects. This will inevitably widen the productivity gap between companies which have adopted change versus those that stayed behind.
Roy Danon is the co-founder and CEO of Buildots.