BIM - Building Information Modelling

Expert interview: “Our goal is to maximise our customers’ options“

Digitalisation in the building industry is spelled BIM (Building Information Modeling). The approach, in which buildings are constructed virtually first, then in real life, is becoming the industry standard across Europe, with the UK and Scandinavian countries at the forefront of the development. 
BIM combines several dimensions in one model—a three-dimensional rendering, analyses of timMichał Ledziński, BIM Centre Manager at Uponore and cost, sustainability assessments, and the subsequent management phase of the building—and also connects all trades involved in planning and execution. BIM projects are complex, and in order to best support engineers, Uponor has launched a comprehensive BIM platform with tools and services. We interviewed Michał Ledziński, BIM Centre Manager at Uponor, who managed the development of the new platform, to learn about BIM.

In general, what do engineers expect from a BIM platform?

Reliability. What engineers—and everyone else who is involved in the building process—need is reliable and high-performance software that enables collaboration across different types of construction trades.  BIM, unlike with previous technologies like CAD, offers engineers more options of visibly expressing their ideas in a clear 3D environment. They do not just draw a building, but instead virtually prototype it by using digital copies of real products. Creating a digital twin of the building, which will ultimately be the only documentation of a building, must be based on the reliability and certainty of the offered solutions. Suppliers such as Uponor are responsible for providing always up-to-date data in a useful way and ensuring that it meets the expectations of all project participants in the appropriate phases of the project lifecycle. 

How does the Uponor BIM platform address these expectations?

We approached the development of the new platform with exactly these requirements in mind. The result is a comprehensive, data-driven system for building and infrastructure projects that emphasises reliability, customisation as well as automation and supports its users in the best way possible. The platform is an all-in-one solution with three main components: the library, the tools, and additional services. In the library, the entire Uponor product portfolio is available in different CAD and BIM formats like Revit, IFC and DWG, ensuring that engineers can use it across different software solutions. The platform is available across Europe, but the content is region-specific. This means, engineers anywhere can choose their language, draw on a local customer support contact, and utilise a country-specific product portfolio, which always includes a 3D model of the product as well as information such as technical properties in various market classifications. Our BIM Platform is the one source of data for all Uponor BIM solutions and always provides up-to-date information.

You mentioned customisation and automation. Where do these concepts come into play on the platform?

In the two main features that make this platform one of the most advanced in the market, the tools and the data-driven automation. We have always had the goal to make engineers’ lives easier when it comes to tackling big building or infrastructure projects. Because the BIM platform is data-driven, product information is automatically updated in the model when it is altered in the master data source. This makes the whole process much more reliable, easier to use, and eliminates errors relating to product data. The “Services” component of the platform, then, connects engineers with their local service team, who supports them in any and every project phase along the building’s life cycle.

It sounds like the platform was modelled to answer industry needs. What is Uponor’s experience with BIM so far?

We can rely on many years of hands-on experience with BIM. In order to fully understand the challenges that engineers face, we at Uponor ensure that all our BIM experts are subject matter experts who have practical experience with the challenges engineers face. Uponor took its first steps with BIM back in 2014 with an initial portfolio of Revit packages that were locally available in the UK. Most of the work, like updating product information, was still done manually. Based on customer feedback, an analysis of market requirements and business opportunities, we decided to take a step forward. In 2018, we launched the segment organisation BIM Centre, supported by local BIM teams in all European countries. Because we have experience with the realities of BIM, we can provide engineers with realistic and useful solutions. This is also why we have been working on customising and automising a comprehensive BIM solution—because we know how important that is to an efficient planning process, and our goal is to share our expertise and findings with our planning partners.

How will the BIM industry and the Uponor platform develop in the future? What are the main trends to look out for?

The biggest challenges for the industry are standardisation and the unification of data. Currently, the BIM market is very fragmented and even if engineers carry out the same tasks, they often do not speak the same “BIM language”. This results in misunderstandings, project deliverables not meeting contract requirements, or costly issues on site. There are several international standards that aim to address these issues, for example ISO 19650 for the consolidation of BIM processes, and ISO 23386:2020 as well as ISO 23387:2020, which both aim for the unification of project data. In our opinion, all three standards are important milestones, but they alone will not meet all market needs. Our main goal is to support our customers with a pragmatic approach. That is why we have built the new platform to quickly respond to changing market trends and individual customer requirements. We are confident that automation and customisation are the trends that are here to stay and will shape the industry in the years to come. Projects and the way BIM is utilised are likely going to become even more complex. This is why customisation is one of the features we will focus on in the future. So far and able to easily integrate new features to further customise, automate, and facilitate the planning process with BIM.
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