Karina Breitwieser, can you tell us what digitalization means for the construction industry?
Karina Breitwieser: Digitalization is bringing about sweeping changes in the construction industry, not just with new software solutions but also with new technologies such as 3D printing and robotic equipment, KI–data analysis and machine-to-machine communication, drones, laser scans and much more. All these tools are increasingly common on construction sites.
In essence these new technologies link the built reality with virtual reality. This creates new requirements & tasks, but also new opportunities for improving the building process and managing the built asset. And we haven’t even talked about BIM yet…
What is BIM and what does it mean for the construction industry?
Karina Breitwieser: BIM is transforming the construction industry; at its heart is the Building Information Model, but the wider context is about Building Information Management. A core aspect of BIM is the smart 3D model, which consists not only of lines and surface-level visuals but of design objects. This model is enriched with functional data for every stage of the building process thus turning it into a ‘digital twin’ of the actual built object.
To obtain the full benefits of this technology, a well-orchestrated collaboration between all players in the construction process is needed. Then we can raise the treasure of increased efficiency with BIM.
Who benefits from BIM?
Karina Breitwieser: All project and industry partners can benefit from BIM and the principle of having a ‘single source of truth’, which increases efficiency, improves workflows and enhances data quality and in the end – reduces the overall costs.
However, BIM can only work and deliver benefits if all project partners work together and go digital, and this will require a new kind of collaboration. Moreover, it has to be remembered that successful implementation of digitalization is NOT about digitizing existing processes, but about rethinking processes with a comprehensive understanding of needs and potential solutions in an increasingly digitalized world.
Another aspect to consider is information management. Not all data is relevant to all players at all stages of a construction process. Without a smart data structure and careful management of all this data, it is easy to end up with a data overflow, or simply a mess. Different stakeholders have different tasks and information needs during the construction process. Roles are really changing, not only during the planning phase but over the entire life cycle of a building.
What market potential and opportunities does this offer Wienerberger?
Karina Breitwieser: The market potential for Wienerberger is immense. Digitalization and BIM provide an opportunity to further expand the range of services offered and to increasingly focus on integrated smart solutions, automation and prefabrication. This provides added value for the customer, saves costs and resources.
If we understand the needs of the customers, there is market potential throughout a building’s entire lifecycle, from the first idea to maintenance and the final recycling. Digital tools and services, especially for managing information, are increasingly regarded as a valuable asset on the market, in the building sector and in the realm of infrastructure.
Digitalization can also provide an answer to the shortage of skilled workers, for example, in the form of innovations such as robotics. Or take a digital service Wienerberger is already offering in some markets: All4Roof, that can make the lives of roofers significantly easier.
From the future to the present. How would you evaluate Wienerberger’s digitalization progress compared to the industry as a whole?
Karina Breitwieser: Wienerberger is undergoing an incredible process of innovation and very extensive transformation, also in comparison to other international industry players. What I admire most is that Wienerberger is realizing its digital transformation in a global context as well as in many detailed local aspects. This allows the Group to test approaches in a regional, market-specific context and then learn the lessons from this for other markets.
BIM has made remarkable strides within the Wienerberger Group and the number of success stories will certainly grow in years to come.
Karina Breitwieser graduated as a civil engineer from the Technical University in Vienna and obtained a Master’s degree from Imperial College in London. She has over thirty years of experience in managing projects and organizations in the building industry. With her expertise in process management, she has always pushed digital solutions for the design and building process of high-tech facades. Currently she is working at the TU Vienna in a research partnership on digitalization with Wienerberger and also acts as a consultant for digitalization & collaboration in the construction industry.
The research partnership between bi.ibpm, TU Vienna and Wienerberger was launched in April 2019 with a focus on demand-oriented information concepts for the digital building process. Furthermore, she supports Wienerberger as a consultant on various aspects of BIM and the digitalization of the construction process.