Standardized digital information is the key in successful implementation of national BIM initiatives

Today, process automation is becoming the major driving force of progress in various business sectors. The construction sector and BIM technologies used therein are no exception. However, the effective implementation of BIM initiatives requires the involvement, cooperation and preparation and application of unified digital information by all participants in the sector.

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Orderly BIM information – endless possibilities

Until the data are in order, full digitization and automation are not possible. A man can interpret information, but a computer is not able to do so yet. Orderly information is not a matter for one participant in the process, it is a task for all project participants to work together, so it is important to initiate national BIM initiatives and start change now.

BIM is related to all processes in the construction sector and its participants. Global integration is inevitable, and the reason for this is very simple: the higher the prevalence of BIM, the more benefits it brings. The first step is the most difficult, i.e. to prepare good, orderly BIM information. Once one learns to do this, there emerge endless possibilities. Orderly digital project information will allow to think about comprehensive automation of construction processes and robotization. It is not easy or immediately possible, but knowing that, having a purpose, one needs to start from something.

BIM is a set of technologies and processes, so the methods of exchanging information, its content and the ease of the process are very important for the construction participants so that they could communicate. If the process remains the same or longer, then why change something? Yes, sometimes one needs to go the hard way to trample out a path, but it should only be a stopover, not the end result. In order to ensure the transfer of data required for a construction process, it is necessary to think about why that data or process is needed, what problem it solves and accordingly think about how digitization can eliminate that process or problem, get rid of it. The biggest current problem with the implementation of BIM is that the prepared BIM information still needs to be translated into regulations-defined drawings, public systems rarely or not at all have the possibility to present project information in BIM formats, and they do not have API (application programming interface) which gives a possibility for the information to be provided directly in the manner of one’s choice and features additional functionality that one can create themselves.

It is impossible to create any system without the right infrastructure, i.e. an agreement. If we want the benefits of BIM to be real, we need to start with orderly information. And here the contribution of each participant in the construction project is important.

Cooperation would save both time and money

In order to achieve results, it is first necessary to anticipate how and what information will be shared and exchanged. It is gratifying that these topics are already widely discussed at the state level, there are discussions about data exchange standards, classifications, this is a really good start. However, there is still sluggish discussions about the content. An important point is that naming an object with a classification code does not solve the issue of public procurement, quantities and the product specification must be specified and if it remains a “paper” process, we will still have two processes, i.e. a digital process and “paper” process. As I have already mentioned, this may be a stopover, but we need to talk about it already now.

National initiatives offer the possibility to save time and money much earlier and to carry out all processes in a very orderly way without duplicating work, by preparing information transparently and adapting it to the interests of all participants. The problem of information classification, data transmission is the tip of the iceberg. The discussion must also start at a lower level on product specification, engineering data transmission issues. How will this be integrated into BIM information and the process?

It is great to see that manufacturers are taking the initiative themselves and are raising questions about this, they are investing in the preparation of such orderly information. One example is a leading wall and roof system manufacturer TECHNONICOL. We are working hard to prepare necessary information for engineers and architects that they get necessary information in form that is most useful to the use case they are working on. TECHNONICOL created BIM content and shared it in digital asset database BIMobject.com, we also created add-ins for engineering software such as Revit and ArchiCAD. That helps designers understand and integrate their products into projects. Company makes sure that their prepared BIM information meet national standards and best market practice. They achieve this by participating in national and international information standardization initiatives around the world. Then takes input from the market, builds a tool around it, shares it to the market, does analysis, and reiterates if necessary. This example is a good example of how manufacturers should work towards common goal of efficient building design.

Contribution of manufacturers to the standardization of information is extremely important, as they are the source of information from which all digital information is built on a block-by-block basis.

The role of the state as a facilitator

What could be the role of the state in achieving these goals? Of course, further support for technological change, but knowing that technologies are moving fast and that their implementation is often one step behind the market, it is not possible to limit ourselves to one ongoing initiative. We need to start a discussion – what’s next?

Data exchange, classification, regulations are the pinnacle of the whole infrastructure. With deeper analysis were arise more questions, they become more complex, more technical. This is too much for a single institution or initiative to cover, even at the state level. The state should become a facilitator and simply give the market the tools to solve those issues on its own. Along with the infrastructure, it should provide guidelines to the market on how these issues will be addressed. In what form? By no means should this be a bureaucratic path, it should be an easy, free and smooth empowerment, in line with the established guidelines (form of initiative, competences, scope, etc.).