Digitalisation, Construction 4.0 and BIM



    Whereas other industries have already adopted digital processes, selling methods (e-commerce), service delivery etc. construction has so far remained an industry characterised by manual processes and traditional methods.  Some aspects of construction are being digitalised faster than others, for example the design phase, for which Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been used for many years and is increasingly being replaced by Building Information Modelling (BIM – see separate section).

    Construction is progressively adopting digitalised processes and buildings and infrastructure are becoming sources of data during their operational phase, but also earlier, if BIM is used in the construction phase.  The adoption of digitalisation is generating vast amounts of data, which we know is valuable and can potentially be exploited in future with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The latter will enable analysis of such data, leading to potential improvements in construction techniques, but also to predictions that could potentially revolutionise related activities, such as road management. Importantly, in terms of data and the use of AI, we do not even know yet the extent of the potential of this, the advantages and potential disadvantages for the industry, or the extent that it could impact the way construction companies currently operate.  It is not impossible that in future, construction companies that have not adapted to this new digitalised world, by changing their business models and their value proposition, will cease to exist, or at the very least, will be absorbed by other companies, even from outside the industry.  An example that is already disrupting the construction industry is software companies and commercial consumer products vendors such as Amazon.

    FIEC is working on this important subject, partly at the request of our member federations, which are witnessing genuine problems for construction companies (such as unfavourable conditions related to software suppliers), partly because the European Commission is encouraging the digitalisation of the industry and developing relevant, corresponding policy and partly because the business case for change is compelling.

    Joint Manifesto on Digitalisation


  4. Software companies paper 




  3. Inextricably linked to digitalisation, industrialisation and automation are characterised by a number of features.  These include the move away from pure on-site construction towards off-site production of components, using more automated production processes such as those involving robotics. The industrialised approach is more suitable for buildings and infrastructure that can be partly pre-fabricated. The components that are produced off-site are often large, such as walls (often already completed with windows, cables etc.), beams and complete sections. These large components are then assembled on-site. Even if construction is moving more in this direction, a degree of on-site construction will always be necessary.  However, the impact on the construction process, the workers and also the clients is likely to be significant.  This is a fast changing situation and requires more research and investment.

    To mention briefly 3D printing, which falls into this subject, this new technology shows promise, but is unlikely to solve all the problems associated with the shortage of housing and the productivity challenge. 3D printing could be a useful technology, but at the moment, it looks as though it will be more of a complementary tool, in a more balanced approach to construction that combines some traditional methods with more breakthrough ones.  An example where 3D printing could be used is for printing smaller components, especially those that have become obsolete and are no longer available, but are required in a renovation. It could also have an important role in the renovation of heritage projects, that require very specific and no-longer available structures and fittings, to replace the originals in an authentic way.

    FIEC is working on this subject, partly because of its inextricable link to digitalisation, partly because it is receiving greater attention from the policy makers, partly because it is likely to attract research funding and also because the pressure on the industry to modernise is significant.  This is likely to lead to future EU policy that will impact contractors and their methods of working.  Ultimately, it will affect workers, as jobs will change and re-skilling will be required.



    The construction industry is undergoing a significant transformation, which includes revolutionary new approaches such as digitalisation and automation.  This “fourth industrial revolution”, known for all EU industry as “Industry 4.0”, is known in our sector as Construction 4.0. For further information, see separate sections on digitalisation, industrialisation and automation and BIM.

    FIEC is dealing with this important topic via its Construction 4.0 Working Group because policy and regulation are being developed that will impact construction. We are informing our member federations and selecting priority issues for more in depth research and discussion, in order to develop our positions.



    "BIM” means various things depending on the context: Building Information Modelling, Building Information Model or Building Information Management.  BIM is central to the digitalisation of the construction industry.alth Designing digitally enables problems to be solved before construction even starts.  It also eliminates the need for many copies of blueprints, which cannot always be guaranteed to be the latest versions.  A BIM model can be updated in realtime by all partners involved and the data that is collected is subsequently available for the entire lifetime of the building.

    FIEC is working on BIM as part of its larger topic of digitalisation (see above). Although BIM is only one element, it makes the difference between a standard construction and a digital construction. Its use will improve productivity and efficiency in the sector, but companies – in particular SMEs – need help to implement it and this is why we are informing and supporting our member federations.




  3. FIEC BIM Manifesto


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