Case Studies

AEC Industry Trends: Driving Toward Connection, Digitization, Transformation


In his recent Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industry Trends presentation, Marty Doscher, Vice President, AEC Industry, Dassault Systèmes, identified four accelerating trends that are driving transformative changes across the industry:

  • Higher usage of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA), prefabrication, and modular construction.
  • More data-driven decision-making as a result of greater BIM adoption.
  • Expansion of Building Information Management (BIM) beyond design—in all stages of the project lifecycle, and by users across all disciplines.
  • Growth of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) as a social industry experience.

As these industry trends build momentum, demand is growing for solutions to overcome the barriers to greater success.

For example, with increasing BIM adoption, Doscher expects to see a further increase in the use of VR as a design tool that boosts collaboration.

The 3DEXPERIENCity “Experience Room” is one example of how AR/VR tools work for AEC: stakeholders are projected into a collaborative workspace through which experts from government, business, urban planning, infrastructure design, and so on, can work together in harmony to define a city’s future.

The Shortcomings of BIM

BIM solves some of the AEC industry’s problems, but is not a total solution. BIM alone is incomplete.

Most projects are still over budget and behind schedule—even now, more than 15 years after BIM was introduced.


Today’s document-centric BIM methodology is still unable to break down silos among stakeholders. Too much energy is spent managing lines of communication that, when broken, lead to RFIs and heavy administrative costs.

Plus, design, construction, and operations remain separate from one another. Once a facility is built, the operations team may receive BIM data. However, this data is insufficient for what is needed to support long-term maintenance. Instead, the operations team typically creates their own “digital as-built” of the facility with the information they need.

Demand to solve these challenges are what drives transformation.

4 Examples of Transformative Tools in Action

AEC leaders are advocating to extend the functionality of BIM, so that a project is not simply an “end product” but a series of linked activities.

The following 4 examples illustrate how practitioners are unlocking data, using that data to run and refine their processes, and leading the way to the next level of industry transformation.

1. SHoP Architects manages data, not documents

SHoP Architects has shifted its focus from design services to Building Lifecycle Management (BLM). This is a total business transformation—from a document-centric operation, to a data-centric one.

By using CATIA on the cloud, SHoP works closely with partners around the world to create inspiring buildings, like the Botswana Innovation Hub.

In this case, the New York-based architect used the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to coordinate with a fabricator in South Africa to deliver parts to a contractor in Botswana. All players shared digitized fabrication details, as well as project schedules, material cost information, and more.

The result of this multi-national collaborative approach is an innovative building constructed within a conventional budget.

Watch for more on SHoP Architects

2. CTCE models the process, not the product

CTCE, a Chinese railway construction company, is using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform for design, management, and construction.

Through the platform, stakeholders can drill down into and manage all activities—including the production of rebar, concrete, formwork, cables—and produce these parts modularly with a high degree of precision.

The same model is then used for work instruction.

The CTCE team realizes they aren’t modeling just an end product, but a process for the entire project.

3. Chengdu uses BIM for managing ongoing operations

Chengdu, the capital city of China’s Sichuan province, is using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to improve management of urban roads and bridges.

The city digitized thousands of drawings to build a comprehensive 3D model for operations.

They are taking the tools into the field, and identifying and managing issues in the same way that contractors might manage a construction project.

Chengdu is turning to BIM as the basis for ongoing operations management. When new projects are built with a focus on the total lifecycle of the structure, the project’s value increases dramatically.

4. 3DEXPERIENCity enables cities to make data-driven planning decisions

3DEXPERIENCity is the natural extension for designing and constructing the built environment.

Dassault Systèmes is working closely with the government in Singapore to use 3DEXPERIENCity as a platform for making citywide planning decisions, managing design proposals, then simulating the impact of those proposals in the planning stage.

Watch for more on the Virtual Singapore project

On the Horizon

To further meet AEC customers’ demands, Doscher concludes, Dassault Systèmes is developing solutions for the IMAGINE stage of a project—improving early simulation for global and environmental impact, as well as the OPERATIONS stage—improving the marketability and efficiency of the as-built environment.

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