The two sides of a BIM medal

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At the moment, we have the theme week „Future of Work“ on ARD television. BIM is also a topic in Germany. But I do not want the topic slipping as we experienced it in a talkshow on Sunday evening. Or who wants to do without your smartphone or the other digital tools?

BIM has two sides for me. One is a technical side and the other is a humanly emotional side.

Made in Germany has been a hallmark for decades. The technical progress and the achievements we have received through the technology has helped us to prosperity. With the topic of BIM, we are progressing slightly behind in Germany. Germany has almost lost the connection and must now catch up against many nations. Germany is and has been a leader in many areas. Why should we not be able to do this with BIM: catch up, match and overtake. The technical things that we need about BIM have been presented to us by the software producers for years and, since December 2016, all associations and the official German authorities have actively participated in the digital revolution of the construction industry. The guidelines and standards are being drawn up. Today I read that the European IFC4 standard in Madrid on 26.10.2016 was declared official ISO 16379. This in turn affects all national standards, in our case to German DIN. Now there is an official data exchange format, which is used to exchange graphical data in BIM projects. Technical advances on the subject of BIM are advancing inexorably.

But what does it look like on the human and emotional side of the BIM medal?

The BIM process changes the existing workflows. In working processes in the construction industry, people play the decisive roles and are involved everywhere. Without the human factor it is not and will not go in the future. Buildings and monuments are unique. Each location is unique. Large parts of the production process depend on the climate and weather of the respective location. In many industrial processes, robots have already taken over the task of humans. Especially where the production of high unit numbers is concerned and where the necessary space for a product does not exceed certain dimensions. Industrial processes are linked to one or more fixed sites. When buildings and structures are created, all the necessary tools for the production (= production) have to be brought to the respective place, built up and removed after completion. Finished parts shorten the production on site. However, finished parts must also be placed on site. The human being plays the decisive role in the entire BIM process.

And now the BIM experts come and tell all those involved in the construction industry that their work processes are not productive enough and that they have to be changed. Only one change increases productivity and saves our resources. Then the child gets the name BIM, the standards and guidelines are changed and the digital tools are provided. Oh, was not there anything else? Correct, many entrepreneurs and workers in the construction industry should also participate!

The majority of people do not like changes. Changes evoke fears. But somehow everything seems familiar to me. We had these discussions already in the late 80s as the first PCs and software products the companies in the construction industry have reached. CAD with the computer, tenders and calculations with AVA software, etc. We use today all digital tools as well as e-mail and smartphone as self-evident. Only our work processes have hardly changed. Each digital device is used for itself and has been perfected over time. Now it is time for the human being to go to the next step and integrate the digital tools into the workflows and thus transfer the data from one phase to the next phase.

Are the effects of the new way of working really so dramatic? Increasing productivity also means saving costs where it makes sense. So what is against it when we first complete the planning phase before we start the construction phase. Then, there will be no subsequent errors from planning errors during the creation. Planning errors do not lead to many subsequent orders, which increase construction costs. Also the builder needs to rethink. It will also lead to the fact that no change requests may be made after the creation has begun. The client and the planners are encouraged to speak even more intensively with each other during the development phase and the planning phase than before. The more visibly a builder is, the more likely it is that the building sum is not exceeded. The construction of buildings and buildings is then only dependent on unfavorable weather conditions and no longer of the permanent changes in planning. This all increases productivity. It is not so dramatic. Anyone involved in the digital chain will change their way of working if they know all the factors and can prepare and prepare for them.

Let us consider the emotional part of the BIM process. Changing work processes also require people to change. If everyone has been able to act as a single fighter in a team of specialists and everyone has planned in his own workplace, this will no longer be possible in the future. The team or cooperation in teams gets a different value. The team is only as successful as the weakest in the team allows. People like to play with weakness by pressing loudly into the foreground. BIM makes the work of the team more transparent. Transparency reveals missing knowledge. Lacking knowledge damages productivity. Finally, even the quiet contemporaries, who have a cluttered knowledge, have a chance to assert themselves. This transparency will have to be tackled in the future. All persons involved in the BIM process, workers and entrepreneurs, will gradually learn to deal with transparency. At the beginning, there will be one or the other discussion where the emotional waves will be a bit higher, but that will come to mind. At the same time, however, we must ensure that the company management sends its employees well prepared in the BIM teams. The culture of the elbow must give way to a culture of mutual consideration and support. Where people work, mistakes are made. Everyone in the team is encouraged to help themselves and not to be happy about the mistakes of others.

If you are experiencing difficulties with the human emotional side of the BIM medal, you can trust me confidently. There are also strategies and digital tools that will help you introduce BIM in your organization so that the „future of work“ and the people in your business will be part of the „future of your business“.

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