CREATING AN INNOVATIVE AND DIGITISED CONSTRUCTION SECTOR. Digitisation has delivered a step-change in productivity and performance across manufacturing industry over the last two decades. But in construction, a sector bigger than aerospace, automotive, and energy put together and where the technology is also applicable, productivity has flat-lined.
Digitising construction is challenging because buildings and infrastructure have traditionally been bespoke developments with little opportunity for production runs or standardisation, and the built environment is complex with many interactions between assets and their users. In addition construction is a highly fragmented sector. For these reasons the market has not been able to meet the coordination challenge of digitising the industry.
Digitisation in construction is referred to as Building Information Modelling or BIM. It is essentially the same technique used by the advanced aerospace industry in pre-production to design, build and test new aircraft, with all their critical components (airframe, propulsion etc.) modelled in a digital environment to provide surety of production and to deliver “as designed” operational performance. In the UK BIM is now starting to take off following a two-pronged Government and Industry programme to overcome the coordination failure described above. In 2011 it was announced that BIM would be a requirement of all central Government construction procurement from 2016, providing a powerful incentive to firms to invest in BIM capability to remain eligible to compete for future government contracts. Second, it committed to fund a BIM Task Group to develop the necessary common standards and protocols, and to make them available in accessible formats without cost to encourage widespread take-up especially among SMEs.
Level 2 BIM applies to the design and construction of individual assets through the sharing of traditional files and open data (COBie) to drive the use of technology and the sharing of high quality digital information. The Level 3 programme will build on this and will extent the Capex/Opex savings paradigm to a whole life process.