Construction Urged to Embrace Digital Technology

ROOFING AND THE WIDER construction industry is being urged to embrace digital technology including making Building Information Modelling (BIM) a core part of the business.

The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF) event, sponsored by the British Board of Agrément, met recently to discuss ‘Construction’s Digital Future’.

“There is little doubt that digitalization holds the key to helping solve many challenges for the construction industry,” said Wendy Ajuwon, BBA Head of Marketing.

“We are really keen to facilitate debate and push this agenda, not least because developing this technology for our industry can help deliver the Hackitt Report’s all-important ‘golden thread’ of quality building information.”

Barriers to progress

Speaking at the WSBF event, Andrew de Silva, director at Andrew Miller Architects said although there were many reasons for the limited uptake of digital technology, it was primarily due to complexity; projects operated on a variety of scales and required a range of skills and abilities across sectors.

The situation made more complex by industry fragmentation and competing priorities from different stakeholders with different procurement routes.

“It’s important that the right data is given to the right people at the right time and that’s a key element of the process,” said Mr de Silva, who believes Building Information Modelling should be at the core of businesses and not just an ‘added service’.

Benefits of digital

The roundtable, chaired by Housing, Communities and Local Government committee member Teresa Pearce MP, discussed how digital technology delivers secondary benefits including more efficient use of materials, better labour organisation, improved health and safety, waste reduction and safer working environments.

It also allows building designers to ensure the Hackitt Report’s ‘golden thread’ of information is delivered.

The use of BIM – described as having a ‘multitude’ of indirect benefits for consumers – was discussed and how the government’s mandate for adoption of BIM Level 2 on public sector projects had accelerated the use of digital tools.

According to the panel making BIM Level 2 mandatory at tender stage on residential projects utilising off-site construction techniques, which lend themselves well to digital workflows, should be the next target.

Barriers to implementing BIM and other digital technologies include conflict between project delivery teams and asset management teams and the reluctance of some building product manufacturers to recreate BIM information because it may compromise their Intellectual Property.

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