The future of the construction industry undoubtedly lies in Building Information Modeling (BIM) – experts around the world agree. The question is not so much whether, but rather when it will be used comprehensively. The advantages of the digital working method are obvious. Nevertheless, large parts of the industry are still having difficulty implementing BIM. If you look around the world, there are considerable differences in the degree of prevalence of BIM, even among the major industrial nations. The extent to which the digital transformation has advanced in a country seems to depend greatly on government incentives.
© Eva Konrad, Skyline New York City
It's difficult to get a truly comprehensive and current view of the prevalence of BIM around the globe. Likely the most comprehensive in terms of space is a study by the Yonsei University in Seoul by Ghang Lee and Wooyoung Jung from 2015. The civil engineers attempted to record the prevalence and development status of BIM on six "continents." According to the results, North America was the most advanced, followed by Oceania and Europe. Depending on the criteria, Asia switched places with the Middle East and Africa (summarized as a continent) in fourth and fifth place. South America brought up the rear.
NBS International BIM Report
However, the survey can only truly representatively name 156 participants worldwide. The NBS International BIM Report 2016 is much more well-founded. For this study, surveys were carried out among industry experts in the UK, Canada, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Japan between 2014 and 2015 with a number of participants between 157 (Denmark) and 244 (Japan). At 78 percent, Denmark took the lead followed by Canada at 67 percent. While the UK (48 percent) and Japan (46 percent) were roughly equal, the Czech Republic (25 percent) was far behind in last place.
© Eva Konrad, Apartment-Complex, 520 West 28th Street, New York City, designed by Zaha Hadid
Legislation as a driver
It's no coincidence that Denmark led the group. As early as 2007, the Scandinavians, following the example of other early adopters like Norway and Finland, legally prescribed the use of BIM in public construction projects. In 2013, the regulations were tightened once again. Due to these early incentives, Denmark also ranks among the top international countries in the application of the IFC standard.
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The example of the UK can impressively illustrate in numbers what dynamics the legislation can have in the dissemination of BIM. In 2011, the "Government Construction Strategy" there stipulated that starting in 2016 the planning and construction of public high-rise buildings would have to occur with the use of BIM of the development stage 2. At the time, just 13 percent of the industry was using BIM while 43 percent of it had never heard of BIM. By mid-2016, however, the degree of usage was already at 54 percent. Another 42 percent knew what BIM is and also almost unanimously had planned on using BIM in the next one to five years.
Compared to Denmark or the UK, the German construction industry is lagging behind a few years when it comes to BIM implementation. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering, in 2015 only about a third of German companies with project volumes of over EUR 25 million were using the BIM working method. This result is not entirely surprising. While the governments of neighboring European countries had already set the course for the digital conversion years ago, German legislation first arose from its slumber at the end of 2015 with the step-by-step digital planning and building. As a result, a provision to use BIM on a defined service level in all transport infrastructure projects first comes into effect in 2020.