World’s Longest 3D-Printed Concrete Bridge Opens in Shanghai

14 February 2019 |by BIM+ staff

Link to Original Article: HERE

What is claimed to be the world’s largest 3D printed concrete bridge has opened in Shanghai.

The 26.3m long bridge, which spans a canal in Shanghai’s Baoshan District, was built by a team led by professor Xu Weiguo at the Tsinghua University School of Architecture in Beijing.

The 3.6m-wide pedestrian bridge was designed by the School of Architecture’s Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture (JCDA), and built by Shanghai Wisdom Bay Investment Management Company.

According to JCDA, the bridge’s arched form is informed by the 1,400-year-old Anji Bridge in Zhaoxian, which is China’s oldest standing bridge.

Although based on an ancient from, the institution believes that the bridge marks a step towards the emerging technology being utilised more regularly on real-world engineering projects.

The single-arched bridge was constructed from 176 concrete units that were printed using two robotic-arm 3D-printing systems.

The structure comprises 44 hollow units, while the deck is constructed from 68 pavement units made in “the form of brain corals” filled with white pebbles, and the handrails are made from a further 64 pieces.

All the components are printed using a composite of polyethylene fibre concrete and admixtures.

The bridge is embedded with a monitoring system that will record how the concrete deforms over time. This information will be used to further help develop the use of 3D printing for engineering.

The use of 3D printing in architecture and engineering continues to grow. Last year, the world’s first steel 3D-printed bridge was unveiled at Dutch Design Week, while the US army has used 3D printing to create barracks on site.

GIS and BIM Integration Will Transform Infrastructure Design and Construction

17 July 2018 |by Nicolas Mangon

An unfortunate fact of the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry is that, between every stage of the process—from planning and design to construction and operations—critical data is lost.

The reality is, when you move data between phases of, say, the usable lifecycle of a bridge, you end up shuttling that data back and forth between software systems that recognize only their own data sets. The minute you translate that data, you reduce its richness and value. When a project stakeholder needs data from an earlier phase of the process, planners, designers, and engineers often have to manually re-create that information, resulting in unnecessary rework. 

The good news is that a disruption is brewing in the GIS (geographic information science) industry as it rapidly moves toward 3D modeling. This evolution mirrors the transformation that the design and construction industry is experiencing as it moves from 2D to 3D BIM (Building Information Modeling), and it signals the emergence of GIS and BIM integration into one holistic environment.

Rendering of geospatial element added to BIM design through GIS integration
GIS data introduces a geospatial element to BIM design, so roads and bridges can be better planned in the context of their surroundings.

The BIM/GIS Integration Begins

While GIS information is necessary for planning and operating roads, bridges, airports, rail networks, and other infrastructure in the context of their surroundings, BIM information is key for the design and construction of those structures.

Through GIS integration, you blend a layer of geospatial context into the BIM model. What this means, for example, is that GIS can provide insight about flood-prone areas and give designers accurate information to influence a structure’s location, orientation, and even construction materials.

And then there’s scale: GIS information operates at city, regional, and country scales, whereas BIM data applies to designing and building a specific shape or structure. Now, in BIM, you may design a physical structure at an object level—sketching a door, a window, or a wall. By adding GIS, you’re managing that structure in the context of a larger, smarter landscape. A building will be connected to a parcel of land, utilities, and roads.

BIM and GIS data for better road design and management.
Integrating BIM and GIS data with information collected by autonomous car sensor systems will lead to better road design and management.

When you bring together these two relative scales and move information seamlessly between them, you eliminate data redundancy. Adding better geospatial context to the BIM process means the project owner gets better designs and saves money.

With all GIS and BIM information stored in the cloud, stakeholders in both infrastructure and building projects will be able to manage data in any environment in any part of the world, yet reuse and repurpose that information in other contexts without having to continuously convert data.

BIM + GIS Location Data = Better Design and Long-Term Savings

Whether general contractors bring the construction process into a factory for prefabrication or turn the building site into an open-air factory, there’s a new focus on improving logistics scheduling and minimizing job time and waste. Using GIS and BIM to bring a spatial dimension into this new industrialized-construction process will increase the efficiency of every project being built.

Esri and Autodesk are working on improved software interoperability for BIM and GIS, which will create a “digital twin” of a physical structure to enable better design in the context of the real world, making both construction and operations more efficient.

In the meantime, synthesis of the technologies is already underway. Case in point: Global engineering and design firm Mott MacDonald is integrating GIS and BIM to support the rehabilitation of the lower Catskill Aqueduct on a project in New York. The resulting digital work product provides a progressive way for information to be recorded, indexed, and easily retrieved to support the successful delivery of the project.

The Science of “Where” in Risk Assessment

Maximizing the long-term value of new roads, bridges, and facilities means delivering better designs to solve many of the sustainability and resiliency issues facing cities today. This will require optimizing dynamic data interchange between BIM, CAD (computer-aided design), and the geospatial information provided by GIS.

Placing a digital design in a real place, within real geography, eliminates much of the front-end risk of designing and building. The biggest delays in large infrastructure projects come from the planning and permitting phases, which involve a lot of assessments of social, economic, and environmental impacts. Engineers and planners do much of that assessment outside of the design process using geospatial data; that’s how they look at floodplain maps or locate underground utilities. So, why not design using GIS and BIM data simultaneously?

Smart utilities and roadways through BIM and GIS integration
Designing roads and bridges for longevity starts with optimizing data exchange between BIM, CAD, and GIS.

This GIS and BIM integration is equally useful once a structure is built. Rather than oversimplifying the end data provided for facilities management, the flexible model—connected to GIS—delivers everything operations need. Customers have the ability to reuse that data throughout the structure’s lifecycle.

For example, operating a road in the real world means managing utilities, managing guardrail installation, maintaining striping, and overseeing maintenance crews. There’s a lot of retrofitting and renovation. When GIS, CAD, and BIM are connected, you’re improving operability and eliminating errors. This technology convergence will play an important role in predictive maintenance, too.

Closing the Data Loop

To create smarter cities, we need to make smarter planning decisions, which is why connecting BIM and GIS is so critical. Think of what integrating these systems can do for the evolution of autonomous vehicles: Car sensors are constantly collecting real-time information. However, they rely upon a highly accurate machine map for navigation, local geometry, and the creation of their electronic horizon.

Construction vehicle operator looking at tablet
GIS and BIM data can be put to use during facility operations and management.

The machine map, which can be interpreted by computers, is best described as a 3D highway-design file enriched with real-world geospatial information. As the autonomous vehicles of tomorrow collect updated road geometry information such as lane closures or changes due to construction, they will identify high-risk areas, which can be fed back to planners designing and maintaining future roads. The whole process will become more seamless, and the Department of Transportation will become more responsive when fixing deteriorating roads.

Connecting real-time sensor systems, geographic data, and modeling data improves everyone’s insight, leading to better infrastructure-design decisions at any scale.

US Marines 3D Print Concrete Barracks in 40 Hours

30 August 2018 | BY BIM+ STAFF

A team from the US Marine Corps’ Systems Command (MCSC) and Naval Construction Battalion has used the world’s largest concrete 3D printer to create a barracks hut.

Located at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois, the 47 sq m structure took 40 hours to print, while marines monitored progress and continually filled the printer with concrete.

Building a wood barracks hut would normally take 10 marines five days to build.










Matthew Friedell, MCSC project officer, said the experiment was the first of its kind. “People have printed buildings and large structures, but they haven’t done it onsite and all at once. This is the first onsite continuous concrete print.

“In active or simulated combat environments, we don’t want marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up,” he said.

The Marine Corps also plans to use concrete printers in humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions. In many locations, cement is easier to acquire than wood, and marines could print houses, schools and community buildings to replace those destroyed.










Images: MCSC

Link to original article: HERE

Which Countries Have The Highest Levels Of BIM Adoption In Europe?

13 June 2018 | By Ammar Azzouz, Paul Hill, Eleni Papadonikilaki

An EU BIM Task Group was established in 2016 to “bring together national efforts into a common aligned European approach to develop a world-class digital construction sector”. But there is still a lack of knowledge of how BIM and its associated digital innovations and artefacts are applied across different European countries. Here Ammar Azzouz, Paul Hill and Eleni Papadonikolaki compare BIM’s adoption in seven countries: Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.

There has been an increasing interest from companies, academics, professionals and governmental institutions to compare how BIM is implemented across geographies. Such comparisons are important for transferring lessons across national and regional boundaries and creating a more balanced understanding of digital transition across the construction sector in Europe.

These needs have led to the emergence of several targets, mandates and national strategies to encourage a common language of BIM and influence professionals in the built environment sector in their shift towards digitalisation.

For instance, Spain has a BIM Commission sponsored by the Ministry of Public Works for BIM to be applied in buildings in 2018 and in infrastructure in 2019. In Denmark, there will be a mandate for all projects in 2022. And in Germany, the government will require a mandate for public infrastructure projects by 2020.

However, despite an increasing interest in BIM comparisons among different geographies, very little research has been carried out to examine this in practice.

To address this gap, we applied Arup’s BIM Maturity Measure to 146 projects in Europe: Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain (respectively 2, 21, 70, 11, 13, 15, 14 projects). These projects were selected from Arup, an international firm with offices in these countries.

The BIM Maturity Measure (BIM-MM) is a tool that assesses BIM at the project level and provides an overall score built on 11 BIM functionalities and artefacts: BIM design data review (BDDR); BIM champions; common data environment (CDE); BIM Execution Plan (BEP); document/model referencing and version control; knowledge sharing; open standard deliverables (OSD); virtual design reviews (VDR); BIM contract; Employer’s Information Requirements (EIRs); and project procurement route (PPR).

BIM maturity across seven countries in Europe

Analysing these criteria allows us a glimpse of how BIM is utilised on real projects. It is important to note that the BIM-MM also measures disciplines such as architecture, structure and mechanical engineering. However, the analyses in this article are only focused on the information management part of the tool.

The findings showed that highest BIM maturity score is in Spain then the Netherlands; followed by Italy and Germany where the BIM maturity scores are very similar. Scores are omitted in this article for confidentiality reasons.

Apart from looking only at the overall BIM scores, delving further into the 11 measured criteria of the BIM-MM, allows us to understand which BIM aspects are mostly used across the sample.

When looking at the 11 criteria, it has been seen that the highest maturity level is in “document/model referencing and version control” as 79% of projects in Europe use this BIM functionality.

This means that all these projects have good practice in project file naming and version control and status.

The levels of applying this criterion in Europe is also varied: Denmark 100%, Germany 71%, Ireland 79%, Italy 82%, the Netherlands 77%, Poland 73%, and Spain 93%.

Another highly mature criterion in Europe is the implementation of BIM Execution Plan (BEP), which is used to specify roles, identify how information is exchanged and formalise strategies for BIM processes, tools and technologies.

Across 146 projects in Europe, 45% have BEP implemented, it is the highest in Denmark (100% of projects – however, there are only two projects), followed by Spain (93% of projects).

These are only some of the analyses undertaken in this research, but full research article “Digital innovation in Europe: Regional differences across one international firm” will be published in September 2018 and presented at the Association of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM) Conference in Belfast, UK, at Queen’s University.

There are several reasons for these variations of BIM maturity across regions. Some scholars suggest that these differences are associated and influenced by the institutional forces and national policies and mandates in different countries. However, it is important to acknowledge that differences are influenced by the socio-technical factors and the cultural and social contexts in each region as well as team experiences.

Differences can also be impacted by the type of project, its scale, income, the level of complexity and the requirements of clients. Understanding the underpinning influences, that include internal and external forces on projects, requires more detailed observations.

Professionals in the built environment and policy makers are keen to exchange insights and lessons from successful projects across regions, countries, firms and disciplines. The EU BIM Task Group published a Handbook for the Introduction of BIM by the European Public Sector and emphasised on the “opportunity for harmonising a European wide common strategic approach for the introduction of BIM”.

However, this harmonisation in digital construction will not be possible without comparing the BIM implementation on the operational level – for example how are digital innovations and BIM artefacts applied in projects in the built environment domain? Which European country is more BIM mature than others? Why are the fundamental tools, processes, technologies applied in certain countries and not in others?

Only by answering these questions will it be possible to identify the strengths and weaknesses in each country, and enable knowledge transfer to address areas that require development. Arup’s BIM Maturity Measure could become a key tool to assess BIM in Europe and better understand how it is applied across countries.

Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki is a lecturer in Building Information Modelling and management at The Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management/UCL

Ammar Azzouz is a Building Information Modelling maturity analyst and Paul Hill is a BIM specialist at Arup

Top image: Garrykillian/

Link to original article: HERE


First International BIM Standard To Be Published This Year

10 June 2018 | By BIM+ Staff

Link to the original article: Here

The first two international standards for BIM are set to be published later this year, BSI has revealed.

The move marks the transition from the PAS 1192 series of standards to international standards.

BS EN ISO 19650–1 Organization of information about construction works – Information management using building information modelling – Part 1: Concepts and principles, and BS EN ISO 19650-2 Organization of information about construction works – Information management using building information modelling – Part 2: Delivery phase of assets, will supersede BS 1192 (principles) and PAS 1192 part 2 (capital/delivery phase) respectively.

Then, in early 2020, two further international BIM standards are scheduled to be published.

BS EN ISO 19650-3 Organization of information about construction works – Information management using building information modelling – Part 3: Operational phase of assets; and BS EN ISO 19650-5 Organization of information about construction works – Information management using building information modelling – Part 5: Specification for security-minded building information modelling, digital built environments and smart asset management.

These will replace PAS 1192 part 3 (operational phase) and part 5 (security) correspondingly.

Meanwhile, BSI announced it has agreed to stop the current revision activity on PAS 1192 parts 2 and 3 to avoid market confusion and cost, following a consultation with stakeholders such as the UK BIM Alliance, the Home Nations Working Group, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Centre for Digital Built Britain.

The work completed so far will now feed into the UK adoption of the relevant ISO standards through the national annex and transition guidance.

Ant Burd, head of built environment at BSI said: “We would like to thank the exceptional work of our experts involved in the development of these BIM standards. Their calibre and knowledge has meant that the UK, through BSI, has led the way in creating standards that address the industry’s needs regarding building information modelling and I have no doubt that that this will continue in the years to come as the construction industry evolves.”

Dr Anne Kemp, chair of the UK BIM Alliance said: “We support streamlining the transition from the 1192 BIM suite of documents to ISO 19650. It is important that the lessons learned in developing and implementing the 1192 BIM suite is carried across to the National Annex and Guidance – and we commit to ensuring this occurs.

“We are fully aware of the time and commitment many have shown to getting us this far. We are determined that we honour and acknowledge this commitment in our next steps whilst ensuring that we make the adoption of BIM an easier and more natural step for the industry towards wider digital transformation.”

Machine Learning and High Density Housing

29 April 2018 | By Steven Cousins

Link to the original article: Here

Cutting-edge design using machine learning and augmented reality helped architects explore a new paradigm for smaller multi-user apartments. Cobus Bothma, applied research director at architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates explains how…

What was the challenge?
Increased housing density in cities like London and New York has resulted in greater demand for efficient smaller apartments that challenge conventional notions of space and function.
Although we are experienced designers, there are several unknowns when it comes to designing for people who are co-living and sharing spaces and amenities, for example two newlywed couples, or a retired couple and two single women, sharing a single apartment. We wanted to see if we could use machine learning, in combination with a virtual immersive environment to develop new and better solutions and so ensure the end results are the best fit for human occupancy prior to construction. The aim was not to replace the designer, but to challenge their decision making.

What was the project?
Our research focused on a proposed new apartment block as part of a large new mixed-use development, comprising eight buildings, in south London. The scheme is still at an early stage and has not yet been granted planning approval.

How was machine learning applied?
We created profiles of every type of user that might be interested in living in the development, including young students, newly weds, retirees etc. Based on these we identified 10 emotional characteristics for each of the users that were pre-loaded’ into each of the apartment spaces, such as the bathroom, bedroom or lounge. The characteristics were derived from designers trying to understand specifically what each user would want to feel inside each space, rather than how the space fits into the overall layout. Each space was also assigned a “priority” rating, based on factors such as amount of natural light, privacy and distance from the entrance etc. Based on these parameters, we used a generative algorithm to create around 10,000 variations of each apartment type, and each variation was assigned a score out of 100, based on a scoring matrix for each space. In an additional process, we took generated layouts (X) and calculated score (Y), and ran them through a convolutional neural network, to train a machine learning model to understand the quality of the layouts based on the score. However, this aspect is still in development and the result was not perfect.

How was Holodeck used?
The four top scoring, the single lowest scoring, and four intermediate scoring layouts were built in 3D to be experienced by our designers in Nvidia Holodeck.
The models were projected onto a table surface in 3D at 1:20 scale, including all fully rendered materials, fixed and loose furniture. They were also experienced as fully immersive environments at 1:1 scale to give a true impression of space and light etc.We initially saw Holodeck as a good visualisation tool, but its real benefit is as a collaborative meeting space for designers. We already use Microsoft HoloLens extensively, and Holodeck extends our full immersive and collaborative experience, people can join the meeting virtually from offices abroad, and it is easier to mark-up and make notes on the model.

Will this technology have an impact on the final design for the building?
Quite possibly. It has already resulted in some very interesting conversations between our designers. Normally you have a preconceived idea of how an apartment should be laid out, but the machine learning challenged this. Some designs really worked and had a level of interconnectivity between spaces we would never have considered before. For example, one variation had three levels of access to get to the bedroom, which radically changed the experience of the apartment and not necessarily for the worse. The plan now is to run the AI on the entire ground floor of the estate to see if we can reconfigure things to resolve the spatial layout. It’s a multi-use high density development, with coffee shops, offices, amenity spaces, parking, and other pop-up and changeable functions. Ground floors are typically focused on retail, but many become empty because people don’t necessarily want that, part of our reasoning is to devise a more effective program.
The principles of the machine learning will remain the same as for that applied to the apartments, only the characteristics and naming will be different.

Is AI the future of design?
It’s an emerging area, humans have a lot of inherent natural knowledge that machines are not yet able to achieve. The idea is to augment the skills of the designer to remove some of the more mundane tasks and free up their time to be creative.

Image: KPF used Nvidia Holodeck for the Rosewood Bangkok hotel project in Thailand. The practice is now using the software to develop apartments

Trant Engineering v. Mott MacDonald: The importance of contract drafting for BIM

Link to the original article: Here

With BIM used more and more often on projects, it’s important to remember to properly draft contracts to deal with the issues that may arise.
Building information modelling is now widely used for designing, preparing and integrating project design data for use by multiple parties on a single platform. It promotes collaborative working and knowledge. But what happens when there’s a dispute? Who controls the BIM model?

In Trant Engineering Ltd v. Mott MacDonald Ltd [2017] EWHC 2061 (TCC), the consultant blocked access to the BIM model during a dispute with its client. Concerned about the potential delay and disruption to the project, the client contractor successfully sought an injunction for access. The decision flags up issues for other users of BIM-enabled contracts.

Background to the case
The claimant, Trant, made a bid to the Ministry of Defence to provide a new power generation facility in the Falklands Islands. Trant engaged the defendant Mott MacDonald during the tender period to provide design consultancy services for a modest payment. The plan was for Mott MacDonald to carry out the full design consultancy services if Trant’s bid was successful.

When Trant was awarded the £55m MoD contract, Mott MacDonald sent its consultancy contract to Trant for signing. The contract, a construction contract under the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act (as amended), included a licence for the client to use the designs subject to a right of suspension if full payment was not made. Mott MacDonald then proceeded with design co-ordination and the preparation and implementation of BIM.

How did the dispute arise?
Trant did not sign the contract and disputed Mott MacDonald’s claim that the scope of works had increased. When Mott MacDonald invoiced £500,000 on account of work done by it, Trant paid up. However, Trant did not pay two further invoices and only issued a pay less notice in relation to one of them.

Unpaid and with no agreement on the contract, Mott MacDonald denied Trant access to the design data by changing the passwords. Claiming there was no contract, it later suspended its performance and revoked its copyright and intellectual property rights in the design data already provided. Trant terminated the contract and sought an injunction to secure access claiming it had paid for and was entitled to the design data.

Was it just and convenient to order an injunction?
The court concluded it was fair and reasonable to grant the interim injunction and order Mott MacDonald to give access, on the basis that:

there were serious questions to be tried: both parties had potentially valid arguments on the contract and its scope;
damages would not be an adequate remedy for TEL – without access, its potential losses on this high-value project would likely exceed the £1 million cap on Mott MacDonald’s liability; and
the balance of convenience and the least risk of injustice lay in granting the injunction to Trant. Without access, Trant would have to restart the design process. Besides, Mott MacDonald had already given the design data in pdf form and there was “a high degree of assurance” that the court would later find Trant entitled to the data.
The issues flagged up
Seeking an injunction is not a cheap process and not all will achieve success (albeit temporary) like Trant. Early in the negotiations, those involved in BIM-enabled projects should consider the following:

Who “hosts” and controls the BIM model site and is a separate hosting agreement appropriate, particularly in circumstances where there are only interim contractual arrangements in place?
Who will access and contribute to the BIM model?
Are the parties prepared to collaborate?
Who will co-ordinate it, protect it from cybercrime and ensure it is backed up?
Is there a design licence provision and is it appropriate for the project? Is the client’s design licence dependant on full payment? Will that licence survive suspension or termination? (If not, amend).
Will a BIM protocol form part of the contract? Consider amending or deleting the right to suspend the design licence in the absence of payment.
Is the BIM co-ordinator’s contract a construction contract regulated by the Construction Act? Is there therefore a right of suspension for non-payment that extends to the design licence?
Failure to agree on these issues creates additional risks for the project – such as increasing the risk of delay while new design data is created.

BIM is a collaborative tool – don’t let your project’s BIM model become a pawn in future disputes.

CASE Study: BIM Unlocks Swedish ReConstruction

Link to the original article: Here

Case study: Slussen lock, Stockholm

  • Client: City of Stockholm
  • Lead Contractor: Skanska
  • BIM Tools: BIMEye, Autodesk Navisworks, Revit

Slussen lock, located between the islands of Södermalm and Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm, has been rebuilt four times since 1642. The current facility (built last century) was in such as bad state of disrepair that a decision was made to demolish and rebuild it from scratch at a cost of €1.2bn (£1bn).

The design, by Foster + Partners, has been adapted to meet the needs of modern city dwellers, including more venues, increased space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, and to provide clean drinking water.

Sweden-based consultancy Tikab is BIM project manager for the scheme – it defined all BIM working methods and aspects of information delivery. The project is thought to be the largest ever to produce all its design information digitally during the design phase, with no paper drawings.

The cloud-based BIM data management platform BIMEye was used to plan and manage the complex piling operation for the lock’s foundations. A total of 3,600 steel piles will be installed, each one driven down 70m to hit bedrock on the sea floor. The old piling was not deep enough to reach the bedrock, causing subsidance and damage to buildings.

The piling operation accounts for around 20% of the total project budget, each pile has unique dimensions and detailing and costs about €20,000 to produce.

To avoid having to produce 3,600 sets of drawings, the piles were modelled as “coarse” geometric items in Revit and Navisworks, with simple place holder information for the pile number, location coordinates, direction and length.

A total of 3,600 steel piles will be installed, each one driven down 70m to hit bedrock on the seafloor.

This information was synced to BIMEye, where foundation contractor, Skanska, input detailed text information on each pile, covering 80 separate parameters needed by the structural engineer, ELU Konsult, plus 30 parameters for its own use. The software syncs the data back to the Revit and Navisworks models to give users real time access to all BIMEye information with the click of a mouse.

As each batch of 50 piles is drilled and installed, Skanska feeds as-built data back into BIMEye to enable the structural engineer to check progress against the design. As-built parameters include final X, Y, Z coordinates, depth, the number of extra steel sections that had to be welded, and technical data on ground pressure.

Progress is checked in BIMEye

“Using BIMEye we didn’t need to produce any drawings for the piling,” says Johan Stribeck, area business manager for BIM and VR at Tikab. “Although we could have recorded the data in Excel spreadsheets, the information would not have been accessible in all the BIM models. It means we can have one team entering information online, without requiring any knowledge of Revit, while the design team still has all the information available at its fingertips.”

According to Stribeck, using BIMEye eliminated the possibility of information “gaps”, where information in drawings is sometimes not entered into spreadsheets. In addition, having one source of data available in several locations – in the database, in Revit models and in Navisworks for coordination – guaranteed the quality and accuracy of information.

With the first 50 piles now in place, the process is running as planned, but it won’t be until 2022, when all 3,600 have been installed, that the real impact of BIMEye can be fully assessed.

Blockchain and construction: the how, why and when

Link to the original article: Here


Geniebelt’s Anastasios Koutsogiannis and Nikolaj Berntsen describe how Blockchain – the technology everyone is talking about – could impact construction.

The discussion about the potential impact of the Blockchain on the construction industry is getting more and more intense lately. It’s true that it could help the industry in a number of ways if used smartly. However, there are still many steps that need to be taken before we can claim the Blockchain is a vital part of the building process.

Before we analyse further how the Blockchain could affect construction, it would be a good idea to provide some insight into what it actually is.

What is the Blockchain?

The Blockchain technology dates to 2008, as a result of the endeavour for establishing a digital currency. The cryptocurrency called Bitcoin is probably the most representative example.

The Blockchain is a new way to store and record transactions. To put it simply, we could define the Blockchain as a peer-to-peer controlled distributed transactional database.

A digital ledger where different types of agreements (eg contracts, financial transactions) are recorded and confirmed as completed.

Its main difference to traditional databases is that it lacks the need for a central authority. There is no middleman, such as a bank transferring money or a lawyer to confirm the conditions of a contract. In that sense, there is no single database or company on which it hinges.

Every node in the Blockchain is containing some type of information, which in a nutshell could be categorised to the following:
•Evidence of a bank’s fiscal transaction;
•Ownership certificate;
•Authenticity statement.

What makes the Blockchain unique, in terms of data safety, is that every piece of information in this database is “chained” to the rest through a digital signature. This allows for a faster and more secure way of data exchange. In other words, it encourages the exclusion of intermediary parties in a transaction which takes place between two distinct members of the same peer to peer network.

What the Blockchain could mean for construction

The Blockchain is continuously attracting more and more attention due to its incredible versatility. In some ways, it could help construction and add more transparency to every type of agreement and transaction in a construction project.

Below are some of the main reasons why the Blockchain could be, under certain circumstances, a beneficial technology for construction – and many other industries:

Smart contracts

Construction is “the land of disputes” the majority of which are inextricably connected with payments. The Blockchain technology could function as a trustworthy contract administrator by introducing an error-free process based on which the contracts would be both built and monitored.

A smart contract is nothing more than a digital protocol built within the Blockchain network in order to implement the conditions of a contract. Every node is containing all the necessary information about the contractual agreement and the conditions under which the contract will be regarded as completed.

Smart contracts can help the construction industry to get rid of intermediary parties (eg lawyers) as they function under the if/then concept. If a bricklayer is done with building the wall, then he asks for it to be inspected. If the inspection is successful then the bricklayer is paid.

Smart contracts can cover these if/then schemes. They can be registered on the Blockchain and cryptocurrency can be used in order for these contracts to be collateralised.

In a nutshell, more direct transactions can be encouraged through smart contracts. Nevertheless, the question, why the Blockchain is a necessity for a process like that to be established, remains.

Improved workflow

The Blockchain could optimise significantly the project workflow and enhance collaborative working. More analytically, it could incentivise transparency during the construction process and push project members to perform better.

Increased transparency signifies increased accountability and a better control of the project in general. A more open building process will eventually lead to a better alignment of industry and client interests while minimising disputes and risk.

If we take into consideration the way in which construction is structured today (many joint projects, shared equipment etc), we can see that the Blockchain could allow for a faster and more data-driven decision-making process, similarly to what it’s already done with the use of construction software.

On top of that, updates about the project could be delivered to everyone in real-time (eg delivery of materials on site). This would considerably decrease project delays and the need for rework (30% efficiency rate – 10% rework in construction at the moment).

The implementation of BIM technology might also be more effective thanks to the Blockchain. That’s because it heavily relies on information peer-to-peer networks. Additionally, the instant updates to every single team member would encourage the creation of a “Panoptican effect” where every project agent constantly remains focused on the given tasks as a result of the continuous monitoring of progress. This element can allow for a more up-front approach in terms of decision-making and increase liability between the various parties.

Bitcoin for construction

As a continuation of the discussion about smart contracts, the Blockchain could boost collaboration and transparency with the use of bitcoin for construction. According to Construction Manager magazine, there are already two projects, initiated by DotBuiltEnvironment, towards that direction: the ConstructCoin and the TraderTrasferTrust (project banking app).

Regarding the ConstructCoin, the project is mainly focusing on the production and proper management of data related to construction. Similarly to the bitcoin, a reward will be introduced for anyone who generated construction information. As Neil Thompson (CEO of dotBuiltEnvironment) explained at CM magazine: “A spreadsheet of construction information might include a line for data that costs £1 to produce, which the client could buy for £2 when it is completed. This approach could do a lot to incentivise collaboration”.

As far as the TraderTransferTrust app is concerned, the main idea is to put together a system that could digitally provide valid proofs of task completion and based on these proofs it will be able to trigger payments. A precise “pay as you deliver” method.

Lastly, the Construction Blockchain Consortium is a public research umbrella which explores the potential benefits that the Blockchain could have for construction. Its mission is based on three main pillars:
•knowledge transfer;
•research and development;
•education and training.

With more than 60 participants at the moment, the Construction Blockchain Consortium initiative has the potential to pull great weight. But so far it is mostly a structure to start discussing opportunities.

Is the construction industry ready for the Blockchain?

Of course, it’s not everything perfect when it comes to the Blockchain and the potential impact that it could have on construction. It’s no secret that the construction industry is very resistant to change. In that sense, the advent of the Blockchain in construction may not be as effective as we might think.

Administration gap

In terms of infrastructure and administration systems, construction does not seem fully prepared to embrace the Blockchain. It’s simply not mature enough for implementing crypto-technology at its full potential.

We are talking about the least digitised industry where 95% of the produced data is thrown out of the window, according to Klaus Nyengaard, chairman of GenieBelt. It is evident, then, that before we introduce smart contracts, for example, we have to build the right context that will accommodate them.

There is a strong demand for the building process to be restructured and come closer to the needs of the supply chain. Only then, we can introduce smart contract technology as a supportive rather than a punishing measure.

For instance, one thing that the Bitcoin (or some other established crypto-currency) could do is to cut the invoice payment path. A smart contract could be created involving data generated by real-time project management software, an inspection checklist app and drone imagery certifying that a part of a 3D drawing stands built as designed.

Currently, the exchange rates are probably too fluctuating to be interesting for this case, but in the future, they can reach to a stabilised state.

Construction isn’t digitised enough

It’s not long ago when Mark Farmer’s review of UK construction was published. The title of this review was “Modernise or Die”. A strong but in any case representative title regarding the present and future of construction. Lack of investment in innovation, limited collaboration, and structural fragmentation are only a few of the problems that the UK (and global) construction are battling against.

With this problematic situation in mind, it becomes evident that an extensive implementation of the Blockchain technology in construction may not be realistic before we heavily invest in digitization.

A representative example could be smart contracts. They could be an amazingly useful element for construction if we get to a point where the generation of a building’s real-time digital twin is an integral part of the construction process. That could happen with the help of drone technology and real-time data connected to project and inspection management.

Every industry is different

The fact that the Blockchain has already a successful application in other industries, such as accounting and Esports, doesn’t necessarily mean that the same will happen in construction. This claim can become stronger if we consider that some of the advantages (eg. real-time project updates, data-driven decision making etc.) that the Blockchain is providing can be acquired without the use of crypto-technologies.

In that aspect, maybe the Blockchain isn’t necessary for construction given the way in which the industry is built. In the end of the day, maybe it’s not so much about changing completely the way construction agents work but making an effort to establish an efficient two-way communication channels.

All in all, the Blockchain is undoubtedly a very interesting technology regardless of the industry you are in. When it comes to construction there are some aspects of it which could be proved to be extremely useful, such as the smart contracts and the bitcoin. Nevertheless, we have to consider whether the construction industry is ready to embrace crypto-technologies and whether it’s all that necessary for construction eventually.

Only then, we can be sure that we can take the most out of it.

Anastasios Koutsogiannis is content marketing manager, and Nikolaj Berntsen, CTO, at GenieBelt