By David Lacombled, President of La Villa numeris and Christian Behety, Assystem


Faced with the challenges created by smart-cities and complex building structures, the construction industry is undergoing a revolution. It has accelerated its industrialization drive and is continuously reinventing its production process. And building information modelling is a decisive asset in this transformation. It provides optimum visibility of the construction project right from the outset and makes collaboration easier for the various stakeholders by offering a coherent and dynamic continuum from initial design through to building maintenance. It also gives a dynamic response to budget constraints and deadlines.


In the age of smart cities, the construction industry more than ever has to deal with two contradictory challenges.


On the one hand, it has to constantly innovate to deliver more creative buildings to meet new user requirements – buildings that are growing constantly smarter, more-connected and better equipped. On the other, it has to deal with an increasingly regulated world, where standards are more demanding than ever, and time and budget pressures are even more drastic. To cope with these conflicting forces, the construction professions from design to maintenance are being forced to rethink their entire design and construction processes.


As a result of this scissors effect, the industry needs to undergo an industrial paradigm shift.


And Building Information Modelling is the key to achieving this shift. This is because:


  • As a viewing tool, it can deliver benefits in the form of a visual three-dimensional projection at the very start of the design stage. This makes it easier upstream to understand all of the project’s components for all stakeholders, each of whom has a different technical culture. This visualization – in virtual reality – also enables the client to appropriate the end project more effectively.


  • As a simulation tool, it has the advantage of anticipating right from the design stage, all the problematic issues that arise during production. For example, it can detect potential failures and errors before they occur and resolve conflicts before the work starts. This is all the more advantageous when one realizes that one day of production is ten times more expensive than one day of design. Using progress reports in real time together with modelling, it becomes possible to identify and correct problems before they occur so as to avoid delays and budget overruns.


  • As a collaboration tool, it offers a single master model on which all other players can operate. Due to the increasing complexity of projects that always involve more standards and innovations, constructing a building requires collaboration among a much broader range of stakeholders from different trades and professions. 3D visualization has the effect of producing a vital common language for managing the multiple design applications used by different players. It also acts as a platform for managing information generated by all stakeholders throughout a project’s lifecycle.


  • As a planning tool, it helps ensure a continuous stream of data at all stages shared by everyone in charge of the project. This can run all the way from the design stage with teams of architects and engineers, through the manufacturing of materials and components, and on to the actual building teams. Once the project is completed, this data flow will feed information to the maintenance crews and processes. And after the actual construction phase, the longest period in the life of the building begins – that of its operation and management.


The benefits of such a solution are decisive:


  • Better project definition by building on a collaborative platform and precisely monitoring all real-time tasks;


  • Increased safety during the construction phases due to better communication between the different stakeholders;


  • Optimum planning by identifying and solving problems before they occur through progress reports in real time and by power of modelling;


  • Optimized construction that can eliminate time and other forms of waste by creating significant productivity and profitability gains for the project.


The decisive contribution of building information modelling is that it meets three requirements that were previously difficult to reconcile: combining creative efficiency with technical security and profitability.