Disruptive impact of Building Information Modelling
Turning point for the construction industry
As a three-dimensional planning and design technology, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is increasingly finding a foothold in the construction industry. The technology provides a way to speed up the process of managing building projects and make it more efficient – enabling cost cutting all round. That said, many companies will find BIM a threat to their existing business model. In short, firms that allow the technology to pass them by risk being left behind by the market. These are some of the findings of the latest Roland Berger study, "Turning point for the construction industry – The disruptive impact of Building Information Modeling (BIM)", based on a survey of European construction industry experts.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a platform that consolidates and links up all of the data relevant to a given building, thus producing a digital model of the whole structure. What this does is give everybody involved in a construction project the ability to take a virtual walk-through of the building during the planning and design phase, enabling any necessary modifications to be made then and there. And it allows construction firms to make early decisions on what materials to use and which companies to contract the work out to – all on the basis of information and quotes contained in the BIM system.
"BIM makes the planning, execution and management of construction projects so much faster and more efficient," says Kai-Stefan Schober, Partner at Roland Berger. As the construction industry expert points out, "Any mistakes made in the planning phase can be spotted at a much earlier stage and all new information that comes to light is stored in the system and can be reused for the next project."
Traditionally, plans are sent to the responsible authorities, costings are calculated and the presence of the individual trades on the building site is coordinated at various different stages throughout the construction planning and design phase. With BIM, by contrast, all of this and more is combined on a single platform, cutting out a great many coordination steps. "Using BIM, every single change is automatically applied to the entire construction plan," says Schober, explaining what that means in practice: "Any structural elements or services provided by any company can be recombined in new ways, just like in a construction kit, or new suppliers can be brought in to replace old ones."
The advantages of the new technology are reflected in the market statistics, with the market for BIM applications expected to quadruple between 2014 and 2022 – from 2.7 to around 11.5 billion US dollars. And what this means is that companies that don't start to use the technology will be at a disadvantage. "It's not just about saving money," cautions Roland Berger expert Philipp Hoff: "BIM is increasingly moving toward becoming the standard for the construction industry as a whole. Companies without access to the system will see themselves disappear from the market in the medium term because they are not visible on the platform and the process of collaborating and coordinating with them will therefore cost others time and money."
The huge scale of the changes resulting from the digitization of construction means that every company in the market will ultimately be forced to revise and renew its business model. BIM will give architects and planners, for example, the ability to decide themselves which service providers and which materials to use. And any construction projects already operating on low margins will come under even greater pressure; the lucrative business of implementing changes and additions will no longer be open to construction companies. General contractors and suppliers of building materials will see their influence wane as decisions on materials and products start to be made much earlier in the construction process.
"All of this heralds a change in the business relationships within the construction industry: designers and planners will be in direct contact with materials suppliers," explains Kai-Stefan Schober. "Builder's merchants need to rethink their business models – they could, for example, carve out a niche for themselves as suppliers of modular construction kits for end-to-end materials solutions."
In any digital transformation, companies should never forget their employees; after all, it's the people who will be using the new digital processes and technologies – and they need to be sufficiently trained and prepared. BIM is more than just a set of digital tools for people to use – it's about effecting real digital transformation within the company.
Turning point for the construction industry