Expert commentary by Clemens Neubauer
The digitisation of existing processes and value chains is one of the greatest challenges faced by companies today if they want to stay competitive in the future. And the impact of the cultural shift to the new digital era is also being keenly felt in the construction industry. Key drivers here include Building Information Modelling (BIM) and LEAN Management.
Lean Management plays a decisive part in optimising value added for clients and developers – and also secures the best possible use of resources. It streamlines processes in every design/build phase and allows projects to be executed more efficiently. Not least because everyone involved has the chance to communicate directly with each other.
This is also a particular benefit of BIM. Thanks to this method, users receive an integrated data model that shows every expert plan, construction phase and section. From design and calculation to construction and interior fittings right through to operating the property across its entire lifecycle.
For the transformation of traditional construction processes to succeed and for companies to genuinely benefit from digitization, we will need the courage to embrace change, a fundamental rethink in the building industry, and uniform standards for the sector. But what precisely is hindering the establishment of an optimal backdrop in the construction industry?
- Data security: a stronger focus on cloud solutions
Data is essential for any company's future success and is rightly considered the gold of the 21st century. At the same time, we are confronted by the issue of data security in almost every aspect of our lives – whether it's as a private person, somebody in the public eye, or in the world of work. Occasionally, the collection and evaluation of project-related data in the cloud appears less than iron-clad. Nonetheless, in order to remain competitive, companies and decisionmakers will have to fundamentally rethink their approach to digital information and increase their reliance on cloud solutions. One major factor here is access to digital BIM models from any location and on any available device. Future-proof construction companies draw on highly interconnected processes when realising projects in order to overcome geographic and interdisciplinary boundaries and successful implement complex projects.
- Dare to err: facilitating a culture where it's ok to make mistakes
The transparent process planning and execution using BIM and LEAN Management provide unparalleled depth of detail for projects as well as high-quality interdisciplinary implementation. Challenges and inefficiencies can be identified and mitigated in the early stages of the project. The precondition here is a well-established no-blame culture. After all, it is only when we see errors as opportunities that facilitate collective learning that we can focus on the actual target, namely the project itself.
- Establishing new job descriptions and role models
The processing and centralisation of standardised data provides construction companies with enormous potential for optimisation across every project phase. At the same time, the application of new technologies and methods – such as BIM and LEAN Management for example – are leading to a change in the job profiles of those involved in projects. In order to use large data sets effectively, logical links need to be made and existing role models, knowledge and skills have to be expanded. The direction in which we are headed is shown by new vocations such as BIM coordinators, BIM or LEAN managers. The experts secure an overview of the datasets, ensure optimal communication between the project executives and elevate personal interaction to a new level.
- Support: automation and artificial intelligence
BIM and LEAN are also essential in the fields of automation and business intelligence: optimised processes and consolidated data throughout the value chain of a building or structure inevitably lead to the use of datasets for controlling networked machinery, equipment and robots. Consequently, multiple construction processes will be automated in future. The actual data generated here can be re-entered into the model and standardised – making it even easier to establish links and support developments autonomously.
I am positive about the future as I believe that streamlined, digital project processes will allow for an even greater corporate focus on value added and customer service, while also clearly underlining the company's role as a trailblazer. Companies who want to remain competitive in tomorrow's construction industry will have to implement the right measures already today in order to really profit from the cultural shift to the new digital era.