The state of digital technology was presented at BAU 2017 in January. This is the leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems and here are some of the key trends that were noted:

Not using BIM? You’ll fall behind
Digital planning and construction processes are already comparatively widespread in the USA, Great Britain and Scandinavian countries. In contrast, the German building industry has to make up ground so as not to fall behind in increasingly international competition. Those who aren’t transitioning to digitisation will fall behind drastically, says the organisers of BAU.

Cultural change is needed
When working with BIM, the various building components become carriers of information relevant to the project and take the form of lists, calculations, time schedules or simulations that can be given out and linked together. Professionals are now able to work with real life data in real time as opposed to representations of how building components may perform.

However, cultural change is needed to make use of these advantages. In the past, this information was often siloed, but thanks to BIM, a more networked method of working can be achieved through the right type of teamwork and communication. Cooperation presupposes mutual trust and openness, and if good organisation of the process is ensured (the keyword is “BIM management”), problems can be recognised at an early stage, risks minimised and construction costs saved as a result.

Regular conformity checks
The three dimensional models of individual planners can be regularly brought together and checked for conformity (known as a ‘collision check’) which can make planning and execution more efficient. However, while joint matching of the planning statuses takes place much earlier than was usually the case, this doesn’t mean that execution planning is carried out at the beginning of the project – a fear that is often expressed by architects with regard to BIM. Nor does creativity suffer on the introduction of BIM. Happily, this still depends on the planners, who in future can communicate with each other and coordinate their respective planning by means of the building model.

BIM Managers are very much needed
Modern software works on the basis of access rights. If one party is working on a specific building component, for example, that specific component won’t be accessible for others involved in the project. This means that everyone can’t work on whatever they feel like, which has made construction professionals cautious of using BIM. While this fear is groundless, a superordinate BIM Manager should be appointed to determine and supervise the responsibilities, rights and obligations of the joint building model that is used.

The findings concluded that all projects in Germany with principals from the public sector will be planned, built and realised with BIM in the next few years. Many South African construction professionals are already using BIM for their projects and we predict that this trend will continue to become common practice across the country – much like in the rest of the world.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.bau-meuchen.com for the information contained in this article.