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Covid 'aftershocks' will help drive digital construction adoption

5 October 2020

The 'aftershocks' of Covid-19 will be with construction for years to come, making digitally enabled ways of working the norm. That was Construction Innovation Hub impact director David Philp’s prediction while speaking in Buildots-sponsored webinar on the first day of the Digital Construction Summit last week.

Philp stressed: "It is really important that we explore the opportunities that digital can afford us. We’ve seen a seismic shift towards digital, how we collaborate, share information and use this thing called the common data environment. If these were fully embraced, it is going to help us be more sustainable, more productive and more effective in terms of the offering right across the whole [building] lifecycle."

He added: "What we have witnessed is currently the majority of buildings are procured individually, designed conventionally and constructed on site using traditional skills and materials, which is a big issue in terms of Covid recovery. However, we are seeing examples of modern methods of construction increasingly being used that might be modular or volumetric. Despite this progress, these solutions are not yet deployed at scale. Clients may not be aware of them so we are trying to promote the world of MMC and how it can be deployed across multiple building types."

Philp explained that the Construction Innovation Hub was working with industry to develop a digitally enabled platform construction system – one that can be designed, manufactured, installed on a structural carrier frame that can be used across multiple building types.

BIM interoperability

Fiona Moore, information management consultant at the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), explained how important it was for construction to address the interoperability of BIM and building components to put together a platform capable of creating built assets.

"It’s not always a problem, but we need to address some of the real-world issues," she said.

Describing the importance of having interoperability of information, she said: "There are lots of clever proprietary solutions out there that help supply chains to collaborate and exchange information and all of those are valid, but quite often this falls over when information is passed across the contract line, is received by the procurer and they have no way of housing that information and making proper use of it."

Moore said the BIM Interoperability Expert Group (BIEG) has identified a series of workstreams to enable BIM interoperability. The four primary workstreams are: Classification, COBie and Industry Foundation Class (IFC), education and skills, and standards.

The BIEG is now looking at increasing one-to-one consultations, round table discussions and workshops to address some of the barriers to interoperability that the industry faces. 

National Digital Twin update

Meanwhile, CDBB digital director Mark Enzer provided an update on the National Digital Twin Programme and highlighted the important role that BIM has played in establishing it.

"The foundation that has been laid in the work that we have already done in BIM is an essential foundation for the National Digital Twin. We couldn’t even imagine it without that foundation being laid. It shows us just how important information is and how we need to manage that information through the asset lifecycle," he noted.

Aviv Leibovici, co-founder of Buildots, which provides a data-driven process management service by equipping construction workers with 360-degree hard-hat-mounted cameras that compare progress on site with the BIM model using AI, added why he regarded BIM as so important to boosting productivity in construction.

He said: "When projects are designed in BIM, it is what we call ‘design for production’ - you expect to see a high correlation between what the design is and what will actually be built. This thing that enables co-ordination and consistency is critical. You can only track what you can predict, which is why we use BIM, but also explains why BIM in my mind is critical."

Watch the webinar on demand: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_scKhwsjZSWqZom5lmIBCng

Image: 180679608 © Visoot Uthairam | Dreamstime.com