When it comes to building design, the UK is implementing strategies to keep it at the forefront of the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM), which can be seen in the government’s strategy document, Digital Built Britain.
For years now, we have been heading towards an increasingly digital environment as reduced costs of computer processing power and connectivity make it more viable to embed technology in products and structures.
In addition, merging technology and infrastructure – streaming data on energy use, weather conditions, population movements and many other trends – will provide a rich source of big data for analysis to inform future planning and development.
There’s no doubt that digital technology is making an impact on every aspect of a building’s lifecycle, but emerging technologies are yet to become widespread on construction sites across the country.
It’s important that the construction industry doesn’t get left behind when it comes to digital technology. This is why, in spite of the recent introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2 across all government construction projects, the industry is already looking ahead.
Digital Built Britain, the name of the government’s strategy document, or BIM Level 3, is seen by many as the future of construction, leading the way to full collaboration between all disciplines. Emphasis is placed on ‘collaboration’ in the 46-page strategy document, with the buzzword appearing 20 times in the report1. Indeed, project teams will need to collaborate around a single BIM model, which will lead to greater efficiencies across the supply chain, in terms of both the environment and cost.
Level 3 will be based on the data exchange process from Level 2, but with more extensive data definitions. This will not only benefit individual projects, but complex data also has the potential to be used to provide asset information for the ‘Smart Cities’ of the future.
On the one hand, rich data models such as BIM could lead to the acceleration and adoption of off-site manufacturing as the efficiencies and economies become too hard to resist. On the other hand, 3D printing technologies may mean some products are manufactured or printed on site and customised precisely to the specific structure. Either way, BIM holds the key to our future built environment.
Collaboration is at the heart of BIM technology, and this means an industry-wide commitment to implementing digital strategies across all sectors within the construction industry is essential.
If this is achieved and there is an understanding of the importance of innovation and digital technologies, such as BIM, then it can have a significant impact within the next decade.
1 ‘Power up for Level 3’, Building.co.uk, 16 April 2015