Building the world's first Smart Nation
In more ways than one, Finland has been among the earliest adopters of Building Information Building (BIM) having decided in 2002 that BIM would be a core element of their proposed changes to the sector (Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries) and having mandated since 2007 that all design software packages need to pass Industry Foundation Class Certification (Senate Properties).
Yet, the Nordics do not hold all the answers to BIM’s challenges – in Finland, BIM adoption is much lesser in the private sector than in the public sector. In order to learn from markets who are getting ahead of game-changing trends, a delegation of 15 building and construction leaders from Finland visited Singapore in November 2016 for a mutual sharing of best practices. The four-day visit focused on digitalization and its applications in land-use planning, construction, residential productions and transportation to ultimately create a common framework and enable innovation.
Public-private partnerships facilitate BIM adoption
In Singapore, the public sector’s use of BIM – such as by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) – has made all the difference as it gears up to be the world’s first Smart Nation. While traditionally, approximately 70 percent of a typical HDB building project involved precast construction, significant breakthrough in new workflow process capabilities delivered by Trimble’s collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has resulted in a shorter pre-cast fabrication stage.
In 2015, Trimble and NTU entered a Memorandum of Agreement to collaborate on research and development in the area of BIM with the goal of driving productivity in the building and construction sector. Understanding that advancements to precast research is crucial to innovation, the Finnish delegation also visited NTU’s University Center of Excellence to learn more about Trimble’s growing ties with the university to identify areas where BIM has the potential to achieve significant overall productivity improvement in terms of total time saved within the precast construction industry.
The Finnish delegation also learnt that for sustained BIM adoption in the private sector to be achieved, strong government support is important. Singapore is fortunate to have the support of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), an agency under the Ministry of National Development which champions the development of an excellent built environment for Singapore. With the goal of driving productivity in the building and construction sector by the year 2020, the BCA has also identified and mandated BIM as a key technological tool to improve productivity.
Singapore’s private sector shows positive signs of BIM adoption
While much of the focus has been on BIM technology and its implementation, Singapore has adopted a broad approach to industry development by incorporating BIM into private buildings. Leading the way is Trimble, which works closely with NTU and Kimly Construction on precast elements in a “smart crane” system which includes microchip-enabled tracking for precast parts resulting in productivity gains of 10 to 20 per cent for site logistics and time savings of up to 30 per cent for inventory checking.
Mr. Alfred Hng, Director, Services & Consulting at Trimble: “Too often there is a lack of collaboration and efficiency in construction supply chain management. This project with NTU and Kimly Construction showcases the potential of BIM solutions to create visibility up and down the supply chain and to support communication and information flow from design to construction. We hope that more businesses are encouraged by the excellent results and start to leverage BIM capabilities to facilitate better construction management and improve construction productivity.”
Precast – The future of construction
Without a doubt, the future of construction lies in precast technology. As it continues to play an important role in proliferating the adoption of BIM technology to meet the ever-changing demands of the building and construction industry, collaboration between academia, public sector and private sector need to be enhanced.
With Trimble’s strong industry experience and NTU’s deep expertise in civil engineering, an expansion of research collaboration into precast element designs will further demonstrate the capability of BIM to bring increased productivity to the built environment in Singapore.