BIM- Key challenges in developing countries
Author: Vaughan Harris
Level: BIM Warrior
Study time: 5 hours
Practical Exercises: No
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is widely seen as a catalyst for innovation and productivity in the construction industry globally. BIM can assist a more sustainable construction process that in turn may contribute to eradicating poverty in developing countries yet through all the BIM wash, standards and culture always prevail within under developed countries .This course is written for professionals and students that are serious about their digital construction future and are working in earnest to future-proof their careers and companies. It is a valuable source of information and an honest synopsis of where developing countries stand in their own building information modelling journey.
There is no universally accepted definition of BIM yet BIM needs to compete against well‐ingrained methods to deliver projects in a fragmented and the rather traditional African AEC industry. The unavoidable truth is that Africa will never join any of the earlier adopters or have the resources to accomplish the huge amount of development that Africa needs.
With more than 27 industry years ́ experience and 8 years in the BIM filed, the author provides a clear understanding of the challenges that South Africa and other African countries face with digital transformation. Key terms are defined and methods, technologies, project requirements and responsibilities explained.
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Vaughan Harris (aka ‘The Baron of BIM’) has a wealth of experience working in the leadership business development arena within the built environment. His shamelessly strong opinions and in-depth expertise and leadership in digital transformation has successfully led him to develop the first BIM Institute for South Africa, the founder of BIM Academy Africa and Exceptional BIM Foundation.
Without any doubt there is currently fragmentation at every level within the African construction industry. Its starts with the client and ends with our institutions and academia. South Africa’s government bodies and Institutions have become so distant from a new are of working that they continue to prepare our students and professionals for failure. BIM is the biggest catchphrase in the construction industry at the moment – many architects already claim that they are doing it based on their usage of design software.
There is no universally accepted definition of BIM yet BIM needs to compete against well‐ingrained methods to deliver projects in a fragmented and rather traditional African industry. The unavoidable truth is that Africa will never join any of the earlier adopters or have the resources to accomplish the huge amount of development that Africa needs.
There are billions of dollars of African government investment in the pipeline, yet our African workforce is ageing and very short of the skills needed in the digital construction processes. Some of the sobering statistics are well known to many investors looking at investing into Africa, yet for many its business as usual. There are many cities within Africa where the residual value of a building is little more than half the cost of its construction.
For many contractors, especially in South Africa the profit margins have been very slim in the past few years, and the unpredictability of the process poses risk for everyone from the client onwards. The collapse of numerous Big 5 contractors in South Africa shows how real those risks are. The solution is not squeezing the supply chain – that’s been tried across the globe and has not worked.
Much-needed efficiencies can only be achieved through a fundamental shift in the building standards and education. Every country on the African continent has its own legislative, cultural and contractual drivers, with culture perhaps being the most significant. In many regions around the globe, especially with earlier adopters, the vanguard of BIM adoption is often led by the design community – architects, engineers, and occasionally governments – who have recognised the efficiency gains through adoption of smart digitals tools to visualise, coordinate and improve operations.
This produces a new way of working where integrated solutions use improved digital design processes configured using new building standards and processes.