Planning catastrophes such as with the BER Airport can be prevented in the future. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is currently revolutionising planning processes in the construction trade.

Escalators that have ended up a couple of steps too short; pipe sections that do not fit into each other; forgotten cable ducts; stair railing leading to nowhere; a missing data connection to the fire brigade – this is only a small selection of the planning errors in the “Berlin Brandenburg Airport” (BER). The construction of the capital city airport began in 2006 with the extremely optimistic goal of opening 2006 the year after. Ten years and half a dozen delays in completion dates later, there is still no question of opening soon. Besides wrong political and staff decisions as well as corruption, planning errors are the main cause of this disaster. That wouldn’t have happened with BIM…

BER airport

… at least not to this extent. With Building Information Modelling, a building is first created as a virtual, three-dimensional building and given all the relevant amenities. All integrated elements can be interrelated, for example, for collision controls, simulations and calculations. All technical drawings can be unambiguously derived from this central cross-trade model. This would have been a blessing for the BER Airport. Yet unfortunately, Germany did not jump onto the BIM bandwagon until quite late and now has to watch they don’t miss the connection. In the USA, in the Nordic countries and in Great Britain, BIM-supported planning is much further advanced. In the American construction industry, BIM has been widespread since mid-2000. Finland and Norway declared the use of BIM for public building projects as mandatory in 2007 respectively 2010. And even in the United Kingdom, BIM is to be declared mandatory for public construction projects this year. Yet, Germany is now catching up: Alexander Dobrindt, German Minister for Traffic and Digital Infrastructure presented the Federal government’s plans regarding the topic “digital planning, building and operating” on 15 December 2015. According to that, the ongoing pilot phase, BIM 2020, is to become standard. Rightly so! After all, there is no way around BIM. The digitalisation of planning processes also brings along great advantages for the construction industry, namely greater planning security and project phases on schedule and thus greater cost certainty. Whereby, BIM not only makes the planning phase more efficient, but can also accompany a building during its entire lifecycle. The BIM data model in building operations is quasi the “logbook” that contains all assembled parts, the manufacturers of them and the corresponding maintenance intervals. The depth of information and centralised availability of a well-cultivated Building Information Model indeed does involve additional effort in the preparatory planning – after all, data packages from various technical disciplines are to be united – but in the end, the BIM planning method saves time and money. For, the further down the line the construction work is, the more cost-intensive and complex are error-related changes – see BER. The question of the nationwide introduction of BIM in Germany and Europe is not one of whether but of when. Even now, Kampmann makes a variety of BIM data available to planners free of charge and is constantly extending the range. For the provision, Kampmann uses MagiCloud, the platform of the Finnish company Progman Oy, famous for its MagiCAD software, the market-leading building service planning software.

Image: BER Airport © Denis Apel – CC BY-SA 3.0