Opinion

BIM Maturity and Openness: A Choice or Necessity?

 

From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 1

Despite the UK mandate for BIM compliance still ‘only’ dictating a Level 2 maturity[52], increased digitalisation also leads to a scenario where technological revolution is always, and perhaps always will be just around the corner. Indeed, with task group perspectives shifting to BIM Level 3 in the future[53], the potential of continued open standards development only strengthens[54].

Indeed openBIM is perceived as the next natural hurdle in this marathon as outlined by the BIM Task Group. BIM Level 3 being represented by a “fully open process and data integration enabled by “web services” compliant with the emerging IFC / IFD standards, managed by a collaborative model server”. This could also be regarded as integrated BIM, they say, “potentially employing concurrent engineering processes” [55].

With Colin Johnson (Cadenas UK) concluding that everybody by now recognises that an openBIM approach will really be the only way to future proof relationships across the supply chain. Johnson sees the smaller software companies providing niche or bespoke software solutions outright - but for manufacturers, he sees a software solution that enables them to aid specification by providing a bespoke product configurator, multiple file export options and international data sets being the ideal[28].

Kevin Holmes (HxGN SMART Build) on the other hand chooses to reinforce the importance of education, stating that education is definitely key for the future development of openBIM. People know how to use the systems quite well but they don’t necessary see the bigger picture and the impact on the subcontractors, partners and other disciplines too.[23]

As this is the overall trajectory then, and in view of Holmes’ comments, in the prior section we raised perhaps the most important topic surrounding BIM and openBIM overall, education. Questions have also been raised as to whether the industry is yet ready to adopt a radically transparent standard on such a widespread stage. BIM adoption is indeed at an all-time high and quite widespread[57], but the understanding of BIM and the benefits which can be created beyond aesthetic design solutions is still in degree of infancy, relatively speaking.

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Q: Do you potentially feel that it is too soon to push openBIM as a standard given the level of understanding in the industry at the moment (in regard to BIM as a whole)?

A: I think the industry is very much based on gradualism and that is how it has always worked. Also there is a strong argument that when advancements like this have occurred in other industries then there has been a paradigm shift towards it.

Digitalisation has transformed other industries in many different areas such as product delivery & cost, and it is not going to go away so I don’t see why it cannot do the same for construction.

The problem with construction is that there are many golden threads that need to come together for it to come into play, for example, off site construction needs to develop into repeatable good quality construction where people are less concerned about the bespoke and unique design solutions. That kind of thing. [38]

ALAN MUSE, GLOBAL DIRECTOR OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, RICS

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Although the construction industry has come a long way in the use of the digital environment to support industry operations, the industry is not yet as well versed in digitalisation as some others. The argument then changes, perhaps, as to whether the understanding is yet at a stage ready for the transition from closed to openBIM for ourselves and for all others.

It is hoped that the content in this Journal will help to encourage it.

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Q: What closing statements or additional points would you like to add?

A: I would like to have every software vendor in the construction industry focusing on creating cloud based software with APIs. As we see in other industries, these kind of tools make it a lot easier to connect to different types of software. For example, I can connect my Google drive to any other kind of software that I use, but I cannot easily connect BIM authoring software to it at all. Why can’t I do that? Why is there no easy way to do that?

If we start to open our data containers through APIs, this would enable the creation of more business and in fact more businesses as a result.

There are tools out there that can connect cloud services from different vendors, and I would like to see something like this for construction software, so you can just enter the webpage and cloud service details and the two can be connected without the pressure on the vendors at all.

There are obstacles down the line but I would like software vendors to open up and give a clear description of how to access this data and collaborate in earnest to complete all of our goals together.

LUKAS OLBRICH, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, SABLONO

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Read all (and more) in BIM Journal