Why BIM, PIM and AI are driving transformation in the Construction Industry

Challenges for the future of Construction

The Construction Industry is in a phase of transformation. Deloitte, in a recent trends report, defined rising material costs, decreased productivity due to labour shortages and further regulatory and safety burdens will continue to be key challenges. The dependence on fixed-bid projects that demand a level of precision that are difficult to obtain with traditional systems, means projects frequently run over budget and get delayed. While the industry still trails broader digital maturity, the continued adoption of digital technologies could alleviate some of these issues.

Technologies that build efficiencies, reduce costs, create access to accurate product data and collaboration with suppliers and customers will be at the forefront in solving these challenges. Companies within the Construction sector ecosystem are now finding that technologies that gather, enrich and access product information and imagery in smart ways are having a big influence on how a project can gain a  competitive advantage in a cluttered marketplace.

BIM is changing the way projects are planned and completed

One of the biggest trends predicted by Building Radar is the growth in the use of Business Information Modelling (BIM) which can significantly reduce cost and risk in planning and construction processes. It allows efficient digital planning, design, construction and management of buildings and is used by Architects, Developers, Integrators and Construction engineers. It can pinpoint potential problems and conflicts which become apparent during the planning stage and during what is known as digital pre-construction, these can be solved virtually before they actually occur on site.

With BIM, all trades are involved from the first phase, exchange information via the system and track all project progress in real time. The basis is a digital 3D model on which all parties involved in the construction project – from the architect and the construction company to the owner – work simultaneously and always have access to identical, up-to-date data and drawings.

It can also give an accurate estimation of the number of materials needed to complete a project, eliminating delays from shortages and overspending, giving it an environmentally friendly edge to reducing any possible waste at the end of the project. This is sure to become even more popular on construction sites beyond 2020.

Whereas previous workflows relied on multiple file formats and disconnected processes that quickly became out of sync when changes were made, BIM offers a more dynamic and synchronised approach to project management.

The need for accurate product information

Even though BIM is recognised as fundamental to the advance of the construction sector, key to its success will be the cooperation through the construction ecosystem with suppliers, industry databases and integrators. It suffers from traditional methods and processes which hinders productivity and increases costs where construction companies require much time and effort to re-configure costs and specifications when there is a change made by a supplier for a particular product.

Managing accurate product information from materials suppliers and manufacturers will be essential for the seamless coordination of successful project management through a BIM. A growing solution to this problem has been the integration of a Product Information Management System (PIM) with a BIM to allow a seamless flow of product information and easy configuration changes.

PIM integrated with BIM important for the industry

As an example, Engie Ineo , an integrator, has implemented a Stibo Product Master Data Management System (MDM), which integrates with its BIM to allow them to manage customers and suppliers through collaboration of product information throughout the construction supply chain. The resulting solution serves as an information channel to the construction data model, enabling the use of BIM cross-channelled with information from building management systems via a centralised supplier E-Catalog. It also helps generate rapid ROI through the automation and governance of product data and purchasing agreements in disseminating product data. Other PIM providers such as Sales Layer also enable manufacturers to automate processes in their product information in the supply chain. In centralising all product data, the system allows for major efficiencies when changes are made to product and price specifications with purchasers receiving alerts when any changes happen.

The success of this combination is proving to be very attractive in the construction industry by creating competitive advantage for manufacturers in the supply chain. They are assured that with a single click, he/she can update all of its specifiers of any change in properties, performances, and classifications etc of any of its commercialised products. The data flow from manufacturer to end user is uninterrupted. Errors, omissions and outdated data on BIM models and inefficient processes updating it are eliminated. At the same time it can give a manufacturer more visibility of its products.

This way the BIM is also kept up–to–date with the latest material information which can influence project budgets and specifications.

More detailed product information and AI assistance

One clear criteria for the future of the construction industry will be the need to incorporate more detailed product information as more guidelines appear for ‘green’, safety and legal regulations.

As a result building material manufacturers will need to provide much more product information to their customers and into their marketplaces to get recognised as a key supplier. To handle this data, product information management systems will need to integrate much more with BIM with Artificial intelligence in mind.

BIM collects a large amount of product data supplied by PIM, AI can be used to explore the possibilities of each aspect of a construction project and find the best solution far quicker than a human mind can. Not only does this make processes quicker, but it reduces the risk of human error which can improve safety on sites.

BIM software companies have already begun to use artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency and potential of their programmes. BIM software can now use machine learning to learn from data and detect patterns and from this, make independent decisions on how to automate and improve the model building process.

AI assisted BIM can predict on-site incidents before they’ve even happened and analyse an image alone to identify risks.

Systems that utilise AI are always learning from past and ongoing projects. This will help to find new design solutions and materials quicker and make product improvements which then can go back to product development and allow these changes to be shared across the board.

The developments in PIM, BIM and AI will ultimately have a major influence on the construction industry. From improving productivity, reducing costs and improving design and safety issues these technologies are likely to drive a new innovation throughout the project supply chain.

About Author

Mike Owen
Having worked in Tech and Marketing with many international companies for over 20 years I have built up a strong interest and now writing on how advanced and exciting technologies are impacting marketing and business practices in markets through digital transformation

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