BIM around the world: Construction 4.0 in Portugal

European alignment around BIM and construction 4.0 is extremely important, says António Aguiar Costa, assistant professor at the University of Lisbon and chair of the Portuguese technical committee for BIM standardisation.

BIM is changing the Portuguese construction industry’s mentality. Obviously, we can say that our current BIM maturity level is not as advanced as we wanted, but existing BIM knowledge is growing fast and, step by step, changing the industry’s perspective. The vision is now definitely digital, collaborative and sustainable. Simple is better but, above all, intelligence is better.

Standardisation is playing an important role in this change. Interestingly, this information-based environment promoted by BIM is evidencing the need for a common framework, capable of promoting interoperability and full collaboration. Standards, as shown by the great work conducted by the UK on this matter, are getting more strategic, aligning the industry around common protocols, which aim to promote industry efficiency and competitiveness.

Europe is giving a push on BIM standards and that has been an important move. In Portugal, the Technical Committee for BIM Standardisation, CT197-BIM, is following closely CEN/TC442 and the synergies at the national level are growing. Information classification systems, data dictionaries and guidelines are being developed, as the industry is getting involved.

António Aguiar Costa

Although there is no central government support yet, there is a growing awareness, which will certainly lead us, soon, to the development of a digital plan for construction, able to leverage the industry’s competitiveness.

The CT197-BIM has developed what we can call the first strategic document for construction 4.0 in Portugal. The proposed vision is based on five dimensions, which support the definition of short, medium and long-term goals.

More than a roadmap, which depends on several variables and a strong commitment of all stakeholders, this document aims to set up the basis for the 4th industry revolution in construction and, therefore, align the industry around a common vision, integrated and more ambitious than a simple technology change. The vision is, above all, about stakeholders’ maturity, industry innovation, information management, optimisation and intelligence and sustainability.

We must all agree that the industry is now focused on a “no return” BIM journey. More than measuring the return on investment, companies are now concerned about being competitive in the global digital market. The Portuguese industry is aware of this change and starting to converge on the need for common standards and guidelines, which are needed to support continuous improvement cycles in strong collaboration environments.

So, industry must raise the levels of common knowledge and structure the foundations for the construction digital internal market. Only then will competition be based on ambitious and well-structured goals, which will lead national companies to continuous innovation dynamics. This will push them to more competitive international markets. It is time to cooperate towards a more informed, organised, standardized and conscientious construction market.

In this sense, the European alignment around BIM and construction 4.0 is extremely important, as there is a potential European digital market that can be exploited in an integrated way, creating relevant synergies between different countries. This will certainly evidence the role of Europe in the Global Construction Digital Market and create opportunities for national industries.

Image: Juergen Priewe/

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