Blog / BIM & Construction Management

Digital construction at the Royal BAM Group

Regarding digital construction, there is a lot to learn from successful European construction companies such as the Royal BAM Group.

In 2016, the company launched the strategic program “Building the Present, Creating the Future” with the objective of becoming Europe’s most sustainable and innovative construction company. Zigurat had the pleasure of hosting a seminar with Menno de Jonge, guest lecturer in the Master's for Global BIM Management for Infrastructure Projects and Director of Digital Construction at the Royal BAM Group. In this seminar he discussed the status of the construction industry and how his company is adapting to the digital transformation of construction in emblematic projects around the world.   “We really need to assist our universities and colleges. These seminars and education programs like the ones Zigurat organizes are really essential.”

 – Menno de Jonge, guest lecturer in the Master's for Global BIM Management for Infrastructure Projects and Director of Digital Construction at the Royal BAM Group.


The Royal BAM Group

At the moment, the company is focused on digitalizing processes in all phases and Menno’s role is to facilitate this in all of the company’s projects. Some of the architectural projects the Royal BAM group has participated in are: the V&A Dundee Museum in Scotland which has just opened, the ABN AMRO Pavilion in Amsterdam which is considered special for its fully circular design and also because after its use in about 6-7 years they will be able to disassemble this building and all objects can be used in other building and the Museum of the Future in Dubai which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. The Royal BAM Group also participates in infrastructure projects such as, the Fehmarnbaelt Tunnel – a tunnel that will connect Germany to Denmark currently in the design phase, the Antartic Research Facilities – a project in a remote area in Antarctic facilities is the complex, is the remoteness, careful of logistics and preparation and the 3D Printed Bicycle Bridge in the Netherlands.  

The world of construction is changing

Construction is an important part of the world economy, as it represents about 6% of global GDP and pushes the economy of many countries. By 2030, worldwide construction output is forecast to reach $17.5Tn. At the moment, there are up to 180 million construction workers worldwide so it is an important source of employment worldwide. However, there are also negative numbers. For example, 40% of the world’s energy is being used for construction and 40% of CO2 is emitted by this industry that at the same time consumes 50% of the world’s natural resources. Furthermore, project margins are still dropping in the industry. Average construction project margins fell from an already low 6,3% in 2015 to 6.1% in 2016. In terms of costs and deadlines, just a quarter of construction projects in the last three years came within 10% of their original deadlines. Additionally, maintaining original costs and planning is nearly impossible and for obvious reasons things need to change. Even more alarming, there is a significant skills shortage in many construction markets. Many consulting firms have studied productivity in the industry. According to various studies, in other industries there has been a gain of about 150% in productivity, meanwhile in the construction industry, productivity has dropped by 20%. There is generally a very low degree of digitization with respect to other industries, even below agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting according to research from Mckinsey. One of the reasons for this digital shortage is the very fragmented organizational structure in the construction process. There are many different stakeholders in each project. Looking at the life-cycle itself, in every phase Royal BAM group tries to add value to their projects, however without digital processes, when information is passed from one phase to another, the handover from the construction to the operate and maintenance phase is lower. Using tools like BIM allow for more fluid information throughout the entire life-cycle so information is not lost. Making the project more efficient, cheaper, etc.  

How to improve productivity and save costs

There is a lot of technology that can help raise productivity in the industry. According to a study led by Mckinsey “Reinventing Construction”, there are a number of enablers that con contribute to this. For example, by implementing technology in the process about 20-30% cost savings can be achieved. In another study, “Digital Engineering and Construction, The Transformative Power of Building Information Modeling 2016” the Boston Consulting Group establishes that: “By 2025, full scale digitalization…will lead to annual global cost savings of 13% to 21% in the design, engineering and construction phases and 10% to 17% in the operations phase.” The World Economic Forum shows the impacts of new technologies and the likelihood that these will be implemented. As you can see in the image below BIM is extremely likely to be implemented and a lot of companies in the industry are really focusing on these developments, including modulated construction and pre-fabricated building components. Real time mobile collaboration, IoT, laser scanning, 3d printing of components, are also important components.  

Government Mandates

Many governments have seen that this digital transformation is very important. The UK introduced the Digital Built Britain initiative with very high targets to be reached for lower costs, faster delivery, lower emissions and improvements in exports. Thanks to BIM, in 2013-2014, £800 million were saved. In order to work for the government, one must BIM Level 2 compliance and this can only be proven by obtaining the official certificates for BIM Level 2 standards. The European Union is also pushing to install these kinds of initiatives and has published the handbook, “Introduction of BIM by the European Public Sector”. Many Member States are issuing these kinds of mandates, for example, Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries are very active in this area.  

Royal BAM Group is playing a leading role

As a member of the construction industry it is very important for the Royal BAM group to work on this digital transition. This is especially important as there is a huge potential for improvement with the implementation of BIM such as increasing insight in a project, better understanding by using 3d models, integrated design of projects, increased efficiency, reduced failure costs, better predictability and of course, increased safety for workers and increased value for all stakeholders. At the Royal BAM Group the focus is on BIM, 3d printing techniques and robotics to produce building components, as well as augmented and virtual reality. At the moment around 40-50% of projects are modeled in 3D so there is certainly some room for improvement. BIM is applicable to the whole life-cycle of their projects, during fabrication, construction, logistics and maintenance as well as the demolition and renovation of buildings and infrastructure projects. In the pre-construction phase, the company integrates 3D (geometry, object oriented model and combined disciplines), 4D (adding schedule, planning and simulation), 5D (adding quantities and costs) and 6D (the quality control handover).  

Examples of Projects

Watch the process of renovating the London Tower Bridge and Kings Cross area using 3D design and 4D simulation for the Museum of the Future in Dubai as well as the 3D printing of the Bicycle Bridge in the Netherlands and how sustainable construction was incorporated in the concrete structure.   Here is an example of their design and how to produce parts automatically to reduce onsite waste. The process begins with a 3D model of the structure, generate a 3D model of the boards for the steel construction, this model directs the production machine, finally the panels are mounted on site. Thanks to the model driven production process and digital construction techniques saving money and limiting waste is possible.   See how the V&A Museum in Scotland has been constructed. Its main challenges and the benefits of using a 3D model. BIM has allowed them to visualize what was needed to deliver, the details, and how easy it was for construction workers to access information on-site and understand what was required in every aspect of the project.   In conclusion, digital construction is the standard. The Royal BAM Group benefits from government mandates in order to accelerate the digital transformation of their construction company. Digital Construction is not only for the design phase but for the entire project life-cycle. Using BIM in the construction and operations and maintenance is a necessity and this has contributed to huge profitability for the Royal BAM Group’s projects. This transition needs to be managed. According to Menno, it is not about buying software licenses, but managing this in the company. The technical side is not really the biggest issue; the real issue is the human factor. People need to change the way they work, and companies need to transform roles in the organization. For this reason, BIM and digital construction education is essential.  

Zigurat Global Institute of Technology