The evolution of BIM in 2021

At the beginning of 2020, BIM was showing a lot of promise that went unfulfilled due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.

Construction was not the only industry to suffer, COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact on the majority of industries.

Ongoing projects have been paused, starts have been delayed and the progress of the evolution of construction practices has stalled.

Relevance of data

While the growth of BIM has been stunted by coronavirus, data relevance is still going to be a vital focus. An increase in an effort to think about data and information is needed to push BIM on this year.

It will be important for companies to focus on the information that they need the most and why rather than having project teams sharing every detail about a project. This is known as a relevance-based approach and can speed up the benchmarking process.

Leon van Berlo, technical director at buildingSMART, believes that the industry 'too often focuses on digitalisation for digitalisation’s sake'. Businesses need to think carefully about what they are able to do with the information they collect and how to focus on the parts that are relevant to them.

The emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence means that exciting times lie ahead, however, it is important to look at the actual benefits they will bring to an organisation or project. This will entail a transition phase and how long it takes will depend on the company due to the fragmented nature of the industry.

BIM, data quality and digital twins

A focus on digitalisation means we will broaden the way in which we work with BIM, common data environments (CDEs) and digital twins. There will be an increase in the appreciation and value that digitising in the physical world can bring. By producing digital representations of physical assets, companies have the ability to continuously improve the development of those assets.

Digital twins are expected to become more pervasive this year, but BIM on its own cannot sufficiently develop a digital twin. If assets could be captured in their context alongside 4D simulation, while time elements are added to information in BIM, this would provide the needed context and chronology.

Data quality is the key component of this approach and 2021 is expected to vastly improve our quality of data. Digital twins and their success will heavily depend on this and requires two categories of solutions.

  • Those focused on operations, maintenance, asset management and facilities management.
  • Those focused on architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) solutions.

Standardisation and openness

As project budgets will no doubt be tighter, BIM can bring benefits such as cost reduction and optimisation of processes and resources, driving a focus on better designs and operations and maintenance. The enablement of open-source software will mean BIM can become more open around movement and accessibility of data.

Non-propriety data standards will be in the spotlight due to a growing push from asset owners that believe open data is a much better way forward.

A more open and accessible environment based on industry-agreed standards could be a key theme for BIM in 2021, with a focus on data relevance and quality. This could lead to the broader adoption of BIM across projects which, in turn, paves the way for an increase in the use of digital twins.

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