Germany moves forward on its BIM journey

With ICE BIM 2016 on the horizon, Ilka May of Arup reviews progress of BIM implementation in Germany – aka the “fourth industrial revolution“

  • Author: Ilka May, Associate Director Arup and Managing Director at planen-bauen 4.0

Germany has one of the most competitive manufacturing industries in the world. Over the past 30 years or so, the IT revolution has brought about a radical transformation of the world in which we live and work, with an impact comparable to that of mechanisation and electricity in the first and second Industrial Revolutions.

Now, the introduction of the Internet of Things and Services into the manufacturing environment is ushering in a fourth industrial revolution with a great business potential: Industrie 4.0.

But digitalisation is also beginning to have a profound impact on the construction industry. Digital asset models are developed during the design phase and then become physical assets during construction, serving as the basis for operation and maintenance. In the future, these digital asset models will become commodities and set a new standard for the design, construction and operation of assets.

Confusion stifles digitalisation progress

Although the potential benefits of increased digitalisation are generally undisputed, the change that it introduces also creates a feeling of uncertainty with clients and suppliers alike. Small and medium enterprises – the engine room of Germany’s economy – have particular concerns regarding their ability to cope with the dynamics and pace of digitalisation.

The lack of a consistent demand from the public sector client base in combination with a lack of clarity regarding methods and terms leads to a general reluctance to embrace the digital methods which are advancing internationally at a very fast pace.

Awareness is beginning to rise across industry that a step change is required in pace and behaviour, if Germany doesn’t want to risk falling even further behind other nations in Europe and beyond. Some recent spectacular major project failures, like the airport in Berlin or the central train station in Stuttgart, have fueled that debate and triggered some actions.

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ICE BIM 2016