Digital construction technology as use of digital tools for economic competitiveness: a case study of 4.0 industry innovation applied to construction
“Digital construction technology is something you need to be prepared for”.
In this article we’ll present a case study analysing the Digitalisation of the construction sector as a regulatory requirement, which is provided by the Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament, and we’ll also share some information regarding new business opportunities for construction companies.
This case study features the company Berna Costruzioni. The digitalisation process has been examined from a scientific point of view by the Polytechnic University of Milan, while the technological partner of this transformation has been ACCA software.
Berna Costruzioni is a company operating in construction and development of civil and industrial buildings at an international level. The company’s great know-how has normally been applied in the design industry through traditional channels and documentation.
Their main activities are construction works and construction site management, which have allowed to gather an important amount of data, regarding:
- Price analysis
- Tax registration
- Construction site cost surveys/ estimating
- Specialized know-how on construction site organization
- Specialized know-how on technologies, performed activities and health and safety
This specialistic know-how needs to be safeguarded and enhanced by new digital processes. Meanwhile, companies strive to be more competitive.
How will the company change by the end of the process? What activities will be implemented and digitalised?
Berna Costruzioni intends to undertake the BIM digitalisation process to enable them to take advantage of new market opportunities with the aim of increasingly transforming the construction company into a service company.
The main activities that Berna Construction wants to invest in are:
- upstream activities: design services
- downstream activities: sales and property management activities.
The entire construction phase is also digitalised, creating a real digital construction site, that allows you to obtain a continuous data flow, from project to work execution, to maintenance and production of the digital model.
This is possible thanks to the use of Open BIM IFC file formats, allowing everyone to take part in the flow.
The whole process was made possible by using a series of ACCA IFC certified software tools by buildingSMART.
STEP 1 – New BIM design services
Berna Construction has adopted software solutions for the architectural design that allow an easier interoperability even when the project had been designed by an external company.
Specifically, the company used:
- software for modelling reinforced concrete, wood, steel and masonry structures
- software for energetic modelling (BEM- Building Energetic Model)
- software for MEP plant installation systems
and tools for cost estimating implementation, health and safety, maintenance plans, etc.
All that is easily coordinated within the BIM management platform, that allows a global control of all construction processes and operates through Open BIM formats (in addition to proprietary formats).
The company has the possibility to involve all stakeholders on the platform, even external ones, which could cooperate through the browsing function and by updating documents and information.
With the possibility of taking advantage of web technologies and web potentials provided by:
- federation of models
- online collaborative cost estimating (directly from the browser)
- safety plans directly on the platform
- model checking operations
- code checking plugin
- Clash detection
- 4D BIM construction scheduling program
All with continous revisions and dynamic updates taking place on the platform, which is where all operations are stored and recorded in an open IFC model that can be managed by everyone.
STEP 2 – New real estate services
All real estate services relating to building sales, management and maintenance have been implemented and improved. These services are supported by the use of shared digital models and sensors.
In this way, BIM model presentation technologies are introduced in the process allowing the client to understand the project and even be able to interact for customization purposes.
The following technologies have been used [ARCHITECTURAL VISUALIZATION]:
- real time rendering
- photo insertion
- video presentation
The client will no longer have to interpret and understand floor plans, sections and prospects, but interact with easy to follow videos, 2D images and 3D realistic photos.
Furthermore, management and maintenance with the usBIM.viewer+ freeware offer the possibility to edit and view the project model in IFC open format, thus not needing to have any Authoring software.
Any changes made (for instance, removing a partition wall, changing a wall colour, etc.) are automatically and dynamically updated in the BIM model. Floor plans, sections, elevations, etc. will therefore also change.
The company literally becomes a “manager” of the building. It enters in a completely new service, where it can directly update the digital environment on IFC format. In practice, it will operate on the digital twin, which represents the real building.
Everything is done through the implementation of home automation systems that can be managed by the platform itself.
STEP 3 – Digital construction site
Even the building construction phase is completely revolutionized by the digital system.
The aim is to make the digital model data flow through the digitalisation of activities that are usually carried out in a traditional way, implementing all the technologies to obtain a real digital construction site.
Finally, you will have BIM modelling and 4D BIM programming, security analysis, works management and cloud security, costing and integration in process analysis and financial analysis, optimization of new job offers with application of AI to BIM models powered by the company’s know-how, site construction monitoring, etc
In this way the 4D BIM of the construction site is implemented allowing to control its evolution and implementation and to carry out a series of checking, such as those relating to safety.
The advantages of digitalisation for a construction company
The entrepreneur and the company could take advantage of a tool to monitor different construction sites simultaneously, checking activities in progress, suspended or terminated. They can check summary data of each site, photos, service orders, latest notes. A geo-referenced view of each individual construction site would also be available.
Digitalisation is certainly a business and growth opportunity for construction companies.
ACCA software offers the widest range of BIM authoring software and BIM tools for the creation of BIM construction models with specific BIM applications for architectural design, structural calculations, installations, cost estimates, energetic certifications, health and safety, maintenance and Life Cycle analysis.
In addition, ACCA software actively collaborates with Research centres and Universities to bring innovation in the construction sector.
After using ACCA software’s technology, the experience of Berna Costruzioni can be summarized as follows:
“The advantages obtained are in greater and better company organization, in greater understanding of processes in terms of integrated design, higher expertise in systems and processes.”