The Built environment that we are part of is always a work in progress. This is probably the most opportune time in recent history of the mankind when we can make the best usage of technology to redefine the way we build, deliver and operate our brick & mortar environment. With the launch of "Digital India campaign" need for digitizing our physical infrastructure shall be felt even more acutely in the coming days. A large section of the industry has already started reaping the benefits of Digital design through BIM, yet it's limited to new institutionalized construction and looks mostly driven by the "marketed" value proposition.
The majority of the burning issues in the rapid urbanization are calling for a response through Integrated & Intelligent systems and big-data management. The enormous lag between the virtual and real world offers immense techno commercial opportunities. In the the recent years, the AECO fraternity have already established a certain level of maturity in BIM. Looking ahead, both the opportunity and solution lie in leaping a step further by establishing protocols for connecting the data points together and let them interact on a live platform.
Enabling our systems to measure & verify the "in service" performance and compare it with the "as briefed" or "as delivered" assets holds a big opportunity to improve both cost & carbon performance. Along with comes the chance to connect the data standards of assets from design, construction, operations and across the market sectors to deliver sustainable long term improvements in asset performance.
To achieve this we need to deal with data from the Operation, delivery and performance management phases of a portfolio, programme or project. This requires enhancement of the "Data exchange" process to allow interoperable sharing of information at all the key stages. This can also be extended across market sectors to enable the cross asset view of a Smart City or Smart Grid. The digital framework of cities needs to be intended towards making the data developed through the delivery, operational and performance phases, available for marketable usages in public domain. Once these data patterns start getting integrated with the Utilities planning the benefits of BIM would start getting realized at its next due level.
The continual balance between need and budget, opex and capex cease to be based solely on opinion and perception, but by need and citizen satisfaction. This capability, enabled by the efficiency savings of the construction industry will provide clients of all types from infrastructure operators, smart cities, local authorities and commercial developers with data to enable analytics to demonstrate optimal maintenance and operations schemes, investment opportunities and to start to demonstrate to the connected citizen how their taxes are invested in delivering key social services. This level of transparency would provide much more focused information in the demand pipeline allowing more businesses the confidence in investing in new approaches, technology and people. This is also helping us move towards development of integrated Totex (Total Expenditure, Capex+Opex) based contracting models for new and existing infrastructure.
Asset owners shall be encouraged to co-operate in developing solutions to problems which will be digitally prototyped ahead of a commitment to significant capital expenditure. Digitally enabled collaborative working offers the platform for the sector to develop new businesses around the new technologies based on opportunities around the full asset life-cycle.
The over all landscape of the next level of maturity looks green, striving to establish a web of assets that encourages automated data interaction. Following could be the action points to make a quantifiable effort in this direction-
- New protocol to address certainty associated with asset performance – including validated data and digital briefing. Set uu unified modeling practices, Model View definitions, IFC definitions etc.
- Development of BIM and asset data enabled FM and AM Contracts – including the FM and AM roles in using and maintaining BIM models. Over 90% of assets that will be in use over the next 25 years already exist.
- Development work associated with data rights, use of data to support performance contracts, use of data associated with existing assets, Totex contracts, carbon performance etc.
- Extend the scope of data exchange – including contract changes to support the adoption of upgraded IFC-based data, digital dictionaries etc.
- Development work associated with transparent, data-enabled contracts, including paper-less trading.
- Development work on use of widely sourced data, digital risks and security
- Creation of commercial models based on transactions enabled by the Internet of Things
- Integration of access and security control solutions into commercial arrangements including contracts and insurance.
- Build new E-Briefing Methods using new data capabilities – enabling the electronic testing of compliance with business requirements.
- Application of remote monitoring, telemetry and control systems to the real time operation of assets and networks
- Integration of infrastructure with control systems such as in cars or trains to maintain positions in lane and distances between vehicles thereby reducing the risk of collisions and increasing the capacity of networks.
- Use of 3D printing and other local fabrication techniques to provide components for infrastructure projects as well as Smart factory automation and DfMA (Design for Manufacture & Assembly)
- The enabling of the Internet of Services (and Construction) as well as associated value chains, to allow cross sector collaboration
- Use of embedded sensors and other features of the Internet of Things to monitor the condition of infrastructure and predict the need for maintenance interventions, creating a feedback loop back to the asset brief, enabling the opportunity to invoke performance contracts and reporting
- Alignment of the construction, facilities and asset management industries with developments in other elements of the economy including big data and telemetry.
- Elimination of all forms of waste, including costs of transactions
- Leverage convergence of Technologies.
We need to collaborate with other sectors and providers to identify the various technical elements and identify the key areas that require strategic intervention. Transformation of an industry is initiated when new technologies connect with new business models to enable new ways of doing things leading to new and better products and services. If successful, these changes spread across the industry creating new relationships between companies and encouraging new entrants to the industry. This in turn leads to the need for new skills, new jobs, new institutions and a new culture within the industry.
Construction industry is due for a mega reform. In spite of current concerns about the number of young people entering the industry, we might be training too many people for professional roles and in the traditional building trades and not enough people in the skills that will be needed as the industry embraces the digital economy. As construction transforms itself into a modern digitally enabled industry, it will need fewer quantity surveyors and bricklayers and more people with qualifications in production management, logistics, supply chain management, collaborative systems and data analysis.
We are going to witness faster demolition of "Silos" allowing data and information to flow seamlessly, and this is going to have a disruptive effect on the industry. (With excerpts from Level 3 BIM- Srtategic Plan, Digital Built Britain, HM Government)