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Digital Construction (electrical)

Industry 4.0 in AEC, means to me a decentralized connection between the physical space and the cyberspace through global connectivity.

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Exchange Information Requirements (EIR) term introduced by BS EN 19650 replace the PAS 1192 term Employer Information Requirements (EIR) on all projects where BS EN ISO 19650 compliance is required.

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The term introduced by ISO 19650 typically describes the Tier 1 Main Contractor.

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breakdown structure to help plan the production of information

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schedule of information containers and delivery dates, for a specific task team

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An MPDT its old PAS 1192 term, the MPDT defines who produces what, when and to what level of detail.

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History’s Professor, Yuval Noah Harari, in his book Homo Sapiens reached a conclusion that humans developed an ability to transmit information about things that do not really exist (stories), such ability to believe in stories about tribal spirits, nations, limited liability companies and human rights (Cognitive Revolution), allowed us, humans, to form large and complex societies where a vast number of strangers can cooperate. According to Harari, the idea of progress is built on a notion that if we admit our ignorance and invest resources in research, things can improve. This concept propelled the Scientific Revolution and our Economy. The belief in progress boosted technological inventions, organisational development and trust in our ability to increase the total sum of human production, trade and wealth. [2]

Gennaro Cuofano from FourWeekMBA uses humans ability to believe in the stories as a way to help businesses to develop their strategy, Cuofano suggests that people such as Steve Jobs (Apple) and Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) become a ‘Myth’ which contributed to their companies success.[3]

The progress and research led to further developments of technology, this, in turn, lead to new challenges of management, due to rapid changes and the volume of production, also the social impact. Several management strategies have been developed over the years, and the most significant success has been achieved in the manufacturing industry because of the repetitive nature of the tasks performed and therefore ease of standardisation. Successful companies such as Toyota are able to implement various techniques from outside of their industry into their manufacturing processes, for example in the 1990s when Toyota team visited American supermarkets they were impressed with the way products are being delivered only after the stock run out, this gave the idea to introduce this technique into their production line, creating now well-known term: just in time delivery.

Construction industry for many years is trying to ‘borrow’ some of the manufacturing methods and implement them within our industry, unfortunately with little success.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Report, global labour-productivity growth in construction has averaged only 1 per cent a year over the past two decades (and was flat in most advanced economies). Contrasted with the growth of 2.8 per cent in the world economy and 3.6 per cent in manufacturing, this indicates that the construction sector is underperforming.[4]

Fragmentation of the industry

Fragmentation of our industry and social behaviour are the two main reasons for Construction Industry slow productivity improvement. Behaviours are the most difficult to change Scott Simpson’s quote of the design firm Kling Stubbins says, ‘BIM is 10 per cent technology and 90 per cent sociology’.[5] Fragmentation is also reported as one of the root causes of the low-performance of the construction industry according to the MGI report.

According to MGI report, the fragmentation includes information and the geographic spreading of projects that impede cost transparency of projects and make it more difficult for small specialist contractors to benefit from scale and standardisation.

Moreover, small and specialised trade contractors offering higher-productivity results, are hindered by competition from contractors who use less productive but cheaper informal labour and by unclear regulations. Many companies in the construction industry benefit from revenue and profits from change orders and claims[4] increasing the cost to the client.

Integrated Design – unlocking better outcome

According to MGI report, Construction Industry accounts for 13% of the world’s GDP and $1.6 trillion of additional value-added could be created through higher productivity. In the UK alone in 2014 construction output was £103 billion, 6.5% of GDP, and compromised 2.1 million jobs, which is 6.3% of the UK jobs total.[6]

With the Governments realising potential saving and while being the Construction Industry biggest customer across the globe, Governments are the most significant driver looking for ways to improve construction, by developing strategies and standards in order to reduce waste and improve productivity.  Current UK Policy published as Government Construction Strategy 2016-2020 include plans to deliver £1.7 billion efficiencies and 20,000 apprenticeships.

According to Daryn Fitz current state of the UK industry, thanks to the improvement efforts can be summarised as follow:

  • Publication of BS EN ISO 19650-1 & 2 which promotes organisations to revisit their BIM Strategies, will be good for Clients/Employers or Appointed Parties & Advisors
  • The greater understanding that BIM is not a standalone process
  • Companies integration of BIM within more business systems and processes
  • Developed capabilities of Designers
  • Experience from BIM Level 2 completed Projects
  • Micheal Boyd quote: …’ at bim level 2 we are cooperating better but not collaborating just yet’… referenced from a webinar[7]

Humancentric approach – Integrated Design

Starting with the end in mind’ is the vision of for golden thread – and Government Soft Landings is the strategy that enables this to be realised. [1]

According to the McKinsey report, fragmentation means no firm is large enough to pioneer and lead significant innovations, and there is a lack of competitive pressure. Small firms are often comfortable quietly going about their business in their local area, neither disrupting nor being disrupted. [4]

With an effort to bind the fragmented Construction Industry UK BIM Framework has been set up with its approach to implementing BIM in the UK. UK BIM Framework is developed by the UK BIM Alliance, BSI and CDBB.

In order to support the UK BIM Framework’s mission to support industry understanding of BIM standards and their implementation on the 6 November 2019 UK BIM FRAMEWORK has published two new documents:

Dave Philp lead author of the Government Soft Landings report in PDE4301 Technical BIM Management webinar presented a new view on the BIM approach.

The UK BIM Framework may become the much-needed pioneer and perhaps lead major innovations in the Construction industry by de-fragmenting the standards and by providing clarification of information.

During his webinar, Philp discussed the importance of a purpose and suggested lean methods of management as a possible way to improve the productivity of the industry.

Application of purpose can be related to our human ability to believe in stories which, according to the history’s Professor, Yuval Noah Harari improves cooperation between a large number of individuals. The importance of storytelling (purpose) is also represented in the Agile project management style which is also aligned to improve the value offered to the client or user. Philp suggested the need for the change of values in Integrated Project Delivery within the construction and proposed a change of the goal of maximising profit to the goal of client satisfaction. This strategy is used by many successful companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, SpaceX, Tesla and many more.

The discussed processes are directly aligned with three out of four Agile values [8]

  1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools
  2. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation
  3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
  4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools – Construction aligned

Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation – not aligned

This Agile value is suitable to software developers where a minimum viable product is released as quickly as possible, then continuously improved based o customer feedback. The same approach in the construction industry would lead to more fragmentation, the industry needs clarification, clear standards and strong lead.

Mervyn Richards stress the importance of the clarification of standards[12] while David Philp makes a point that we all speak a different language; hence the uni class, IFC these tools will help to understand and conceptualise[10]

Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation – Construction aligned

Responding to Change Over Following a Plan – Construction aligned

I would like to highlight the importance and need of the response to a change by the governments and industry leaders to publish frequently revised and improved strategies and standards based on analysed data and informed decisions.

Generally, a change in Construction Industry is a risk, and the aim is to avoid change, but changes in construction are unavoidable, according to McKinsey, a well-organised change management process can reduce the time of a project development cycle by up to 33%.[4]


The industry seems to be changing the values by putting more importance on the client, borrowing from a business model of customer-driven companies where the goal is customer satisfaction and quality of a product,  this approach can bring exceptional profits – think Google, Amazon, Nike. Hope this together with a change in procurement methods will help to reinvent construction. Furthermore, after two decades of trying to implement the manufacturing and software developers management methods in construction, the industry may be at the point to find a way to apply the methods successfully.

[1]        “Blog: David Philp on the Government Soft Landings | Centre for Digital Built Britain.” (accessed Nov. 15, 2019).

[2]        Y. N. Harari, Sapiens: a brief history of humankind. Penguin Random House UK, 2011.

[3]        G. CUOFANO, “Business Storytelling: How To Build Your Brand Around Storytelling – FourWeekMBA.” (accessed Nov. 16, 2019).

[4]        F. Barbosa et al., “REINVENTING CONSTRUCTION: A ROUTE TO HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY,” 2017. Accessed: Nov. 02, 2019. [Online].

[5]        B. Hardin and D. McCool, BIM and construction management: proven tools, methods, and workflows, Second Edition. Indiana: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.

[6]        The Infrastructure and Projects Authority, “Government Construction Strategy 2016-2020,” p. 16, 2016.

[7]        D. Fitz, “A Different View on Building Information Modelling & Adoption Challenges,” 2019.

[8]        “The 4 Values and 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto.” (accessed Nov. 16, 2019).

[9]        J. Salmon, “Project Centric Integrated Project Delivery (IPD),” 2019.

[10]       D. Philp, “Integrated Digital Delivery,” 2019.

[11]       M. Richards, “Impacts Cause and Effects,” 2019.

[12]       M. Richards, “Standards methods and Procedures,” 2017.

[13]       A. Boutle et al., Information management according to BS EN ISO 19650 Guidance Part 2: Processes for Project Delivery. UK BIM ALLIANCE, cdbb, bsi.

[14]       D. Philip, D. Churcher, S. Davidson, and R. Evans, “Government Soft Landings Revised guidance for the public sector on applying BS8536 parts 1 and 2,” 2019. [Online].

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