BIM in Europe: Germany is waiting for BIM to became mandatory in all public sector works from 2020 and has promoted many pilot projects for roads and railways
In this article we will provide the lastest updates with regard to BIM in Europe and, specifically, we'll analyse how BIM methodology is being adopted in Germany. In the last few years BIM methodology has achieved an important role in the improvement of the construction sector in Europe. Many European countries are now accelerating procedures for mandatory implementation of BIM.
In April 2013, the Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (BMVI – Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure) founded a “ Reform Commission for building management”, with the purpose of developing concepts and federal politics to adopt in this field.
This new initiative aimed to guarantee:
- Greater confidence and involvement of the construction sector experts , when using BIM technology in major infrastructures projects
- A better and more efficient use of federal funds in public works
- An improvement of the international reputation of German industries in the digital construction sector.
From 2015 Germany started to emulate the British model, since UKis a leader in Europe for BIM implementation in the construction industry.
German public officials have soon understood all the benefits of a collaborative approach that new technologies offer at all the stages of construction: during the design, the execution and the management of the public works.
They have recognized BIM as a very useful way for efficient building management.
All these new digital solutions applied in the construction industry, have soon become part of a transformation process. In fact, the lack of innovation processes was under discussion for quite a while in Germany.
BIM was recognized as a solution to the ever-increasing costs of planning and construction, due to conflicts and miscommunication during the decision-making process. The problem was also amplified by the fact that German authorities have been observing a decline in the profitability of the construction market in the last decade and a decrease of the number of construction sites.
Rasso Steinmann, head of BIM Coordination Group and chairman of the German Chapter of building SMART International said:
"Institutional Germany recognizes and supports BIM as the way to follow; we just have to focus on educating and increasing interest among all the actors involved."
BIM in Europe. The German public initiative
State politics became stronger with the approval of the Digital construction plan. It came to emphasize the importance of an accurate planning and digitalization of construction as an obligatory step for the construction sector development.
With the adoption of the plan in December 2015, Alexander Dobrindt, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, officially announced that the use of BIM will be mandatory for all transportation and infrastructure projects by the end of 2020.
In fact, the Ministry has recently given financial support to the German contracting authorities in undergoing the BIM transition, by starting up special programs. The government will also encourage pilot projects, by helping the companies involved to achieve a better approach in the use of the new digital tools.
The Ministry has already provided, since 2016, financial aid to many BIM pilot projects, especially to those that aim to modernize the road and railway construction sector.
The plan for 2015/2020, which has been delineated by the ministerial commission, envisages the introduction of BIM in 3 phases:
- 2015/2017 initialization phase that aims to study:
- The best conditions for BIM implementation in major infrastructure projects
- The legal and technical framework
- The standardization
- The strategies to adopt for BIM functioning
- Four pilot projects, the main one being the “Deutsche Bahn Netz AG” railway tunnel in Rastatt
- 2017/2020 Pilot phase, which consists in:
- Collecting the most exhaustive experiences in the practical use of BIM, during planning and building
- Developing further pilot projects (20 more are expected) andconstantly monitoring those ones already started
- Developing guidelines, checklists and samples for BIM implementation in future projects
- Providing clarification on the legal and regulatory aspects
- Developing databases to facilitate working with BIM.
- Application phase from 2020 onwards, at full implementation regimen.
From 2020 BIM technology will be mandatory and will have to be applied regularly, during the planning and realization of major projects in transport and public infrastructure areas.
Planen Bauen 4, the private initiative
In 2015 a group of industrial associations, major companies and non-governmental organisations met together, with the intent of further support BIM and set up a German BIM Steering Group, later called “Planen Bauen 4.0“.
Dr. Ilka May, group’s managing director and prominent spokesperson stated that:
"the main impediment to BIM adoption in Germany is not in the technology, but rather in the companies’ knowledge of BIM."
During traditional processes, stakeholders don’t know what is expected of them, who has to provide what data and who is responsible for what. That’s why, “Planen Bauen 4.0” initiative aims at setting clear guidelines (not obligations) for the practical application of BIM methods.
The Plan sets out the gradual introduction of BIM practices within companies, alongside the public plan, which establish that pilot projects, promoted by the Federal State (with a total financing of € 3,8 mill, mostly for roads and rails construction) should be realized by private companies, by the means of digital tools. The idea is to educate the industry through application of BIM on major public-owned infrastructure projects, realized by private companies, and afterwards, to spread the good practices in the private sector.
Both, public and private plans, have also defined the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) as the common data format, similar to some neighbour countries, , like Denmark and Norway, which are also making progress in terms of BIM implementation.
Currently in Germany there are two official institutes of standardization:
- The Association of German Engineers i or VDI, that is the largest technical association with over 15.000 members and authorized to produce legal building standards, such as VDI2552 series, which is already being drafted.
- German national BIM standard will be developed by the German institute for standardization- DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung), in cooperation with the European authorities of CEN –Norm (Comité Européen de Normalisation – European Committee of Normalization).
German authorities and companies expect to see a significant increase in efficiency during the construction process, through better planning coordination and better analysis methods through BIM. The linking of real data, collected on the construction sites, with their costs, is especially useful and helpful for project managers and control bodies in the execution of the project, according to national and European requirements.
Bim in Europe: The Stuttgart – Ulm Railway Pilot project
One of the German crucial point infrastructure is the high-speed rail line, connecting Stuttgart and Ulm, which cuts the old rout directly through the hills.
The DB Netz AG (German Railways)’s rail Project is under construction in Mühlhausen im Täle, near the Wiesensteig city, and envisages, moreover, the realization of the bridge in the Fils valley, one of the largest Germany’s railway bridge.
The target, achievable through BIM tools, is to build faster, better and cheaper. The pilot project of the bridge in the Fils valley, created with 3D complete BIM model, shows how is absolutely possible to monitor optimally all the information on construction progress, costs and time schedule.
The new high-speed line, along the motorway A8, is a fast and convenient connection. In fact, high-speed trains will be able now to increase their speed up to 250km/h, crossing the valley, while they had to decelerate up to 70 km/h before, due to sharp bends. Moreover, they will almost halve the time (1 h) needed for the rout Stuttgart – Ulm.
Both the bridge and the railway are still under construction and works are expected to be completed in 2021.