The term "digitisation" is used in all areas and shapes our everyday life and working life. With regard to the everyday work of architects, digital change is also synonymous with three letters: BIM - Building Information Modelling. Because BIM is and will become part of the architects' everyday work.
With the help of BIM technology, the entire life cycle of a building can be viewed digitally. From planning to construction, operation and dismantling, the building object can be supervised by BIM. BIM is thus characterized by an information, coordination and management process in which all parties involved in the construction process can access a central data model. This makes BIM interesting for architects who are particularly active in the planning phase. This is because BIM technology minimizes planning error costs.
The traditionally active German construction industry is thus confronted with digital process optimization and is forced to adapt quickly. Especially if you look at other European countries. For example in Great Britain or the Netherlands the technology is already well advanced and is used nationwide for construction projects. The pressure of digitisation on the construction industry and thus on architects is growing. They are required to follow up with BIM.
Initially, the inhibition against BIM was quite high among planners in the construction sector. A study by the American Institute of Building Science NIBS 2007 shows the negative development in the construction industry over the last 40 years. The study illustrates the urgency of adapting existing processes and methods as well as the technical aids used to fit into the progress of the industry. The increased use of BIM as a key technology can and should therefore become a growth and innovation driver for the further development of the construction industry.
This is also the view of the architects surveyed in the "European Architectural Barometer, 2016". According to this study, 41 percent of the respondents hope for early 3D object information from the manufacturers for their products and the installation of BIM libraries.
Advantages of BIM for architects
The study also shows that the architects surveyed see advantages in bundling all data in a central model. This enables BIM to minimise the time required for the planning process.
As indicated, the traditional construction industry is currently still characterised by processes and services that lead to additional expenditure. Product information, for example, is maintained in various Excel tables and costs are determined by merging this information. The susceptibility to errors increases with each interface.
The aim of BIM is to provide a representation of reality in the CAD system in the early phase of object planning. Costs can thus be calculated at an earlier point in time. BIM thus offers the advantage of improved cost security. As a result, architects see a further advantage in improved planning reliability and the associated planning quality.
According to our own survey of BIMsystems with architects in 2019, these benefits are evident in tenders, for example, as volumes can be determined earlier through the BIM process. This is also accompanied by the advantage of conserving resources. Thanks to BIM technology and more accurate quantity determination, excess building material - and thus its disposal - can be reduced.
In addition, collision detection is simplified because products can be ordered long in advance. With the help of BIM technology, planning reliability can be ensured on the one hand by error-free planning and on the other by storing logics and rules for individual components.
In summary, the architects surveyed by BIMsystems are enthusiastic about the fact that BIM no longer has to be used for planning during the construction phase. Modern construction means: first digital, then real construction.
Small architectural firms can also make a quick switch to BIM. According to "BAK statistics 2016", 80 percent of German architectural firms have one to four employees. By switching to BIM, they secure a head start on the experience curve and thus a long-term advantage over other architecture firms that oversleep the BIM technology.
Challenges to be overcome in the course of BIM
In terms of innovation and the use of sustainable methods and technologies, the construction industry has fallen far behind the industry average worldwide. The biggest challenge at present is to establish a uniform BIM know-how for all project participants. This can be achieved through further education and training. BIM-capable software is also required. The implementation of BIM therefore requires certain investments, which represent major hurdles for many potential BIM users. This lack of willingness to invest can also explain why the German construction industry is lagging behind.
But an investment in BIM is worth it! Using the planning method, architects can set themselves apart from the competition. The USP - Unique Selling Proposition - of BIM is transferred to the business model of the architectural office. In this way, projects are designed and planned more efficiently, faster and more cost-effectively.
However, the respondents to the "European Architectural Barometer" are also sceptical, as the time required at the beginning of a project is more extensive than with traditional construction methods. Studies and field reports show, however, that the time spent in other planning phases can be compensated and up to 25 percent of the project working time can be saved across the project.
The architects interviewed by BIMsystems see the challenge in the fact that in many programs 2D cannot be derived from 3D. The component management system (BMS) from BIMsystems is able to do this. Even the reading of complex components is currently still difficult. The addition of attributes to the respective components is seen as an advantage, but also leads to inconsistencies and the attributes are not always structured meaningfully. Due to the limitations of many programs, it is often necessary to weigh up what can be stored or displayed geometrically.
This is where BIMsystems technology comes in!
BIMsystems offers opportunities to meet the challenges outlined above now. Our worldwide unique database-driven BMS enables agreements in the form of real-time collaboration, prevents loss of information between interfaces and promotes transparency within a project.
Hurdles like inconsistencies of attributes are a thing of the past due to the BMS. BIM objects from different manufacturers have a uniform structure and the stored rules and logics ensure error-free planning. The intelligent BIM contents can be directly inserted and even configured via the plugin directly in the CAD system.
The construction industry is changing and so is the planning process and the fields of activity of architects. With BIM, many new doors are open to them. Architects can create new markets by opening up new fields of activity or specialising.
Digitisation should be seen as an opportunity for the profession of architect. At the moment, the potential for increasing productivity, which has doubled or tripled as a result of digitisation in other sectors, has hardly been exploited in the construction sector in Germany.
Have the guts! Take the step into digitisation - and benefit from BIM in the medium and long term.
Product Marketing Assistant at BIMsystems
Jana supports in marketing and product management. She forms the interface between these two disciplines. Above all, she coordinates and organizes user research. And helps to draw conclusions for product development and marketing.