BIM maturity, best practices and trends in the Netherlands

BIM Aproplan Smartbuilding

Holland is one of the leading places in the world where enormous efforts are being done to put BIM methodologies into effect in their construction sector. In fact, a two-year study was launched in May 2014 by the University of Twente as commissioned by the Dutch Building Information Council and the Dutch Association for Purchasing Management, to research on the level of maturity of organisations using BIM and to identify the best collaboration and BIM practices in Dutch construction and engineering.

BIM maturity model

The research group developed a BIM Maturity Model to measure the level of BIM maturity across several organisations. Later on, the model was converted into an interview format in order to collect data from in-depth interviews. All these were made possible thanks to the University of Twente’s master’s students.

The organisations that were studied, were subdivided into seven subsectors — architects, engineering firms, commercial and industrial contractors, civil work contractors, MEP contractors and suppliers. Because organisations who are less experienced in BIM were not so open to participating in the study, the interviews basically represent BIM maturity among Dutch construction leaders and not of the entire industry.

Results with the full report of the industry analysis are known as the First Result of the Design Project, carried out in 2016. Next step is to take into account an evaluation of the BIM Maturity Model derived from the results and experiences of the sector analysis.

This, in turn, will be the basis for refining the maturity model, which will be used for further sector analysis. An improved maturity model would then assess the entire maturity of the industry through a survey. To supplement this, case studies will also be utilised to further understand BIM maturity best practices and the level of projects in additional detail.

BIM maturity

To evaluate the BIM maturity of the surveyed organisations, they were set against the following criteria:

  • Strategy
  • Organisation structure
  • Culture
  • Processes
  • Information
  • Information technology

Majority of the big names in the various subsectors attribute importance to the evolution of BIM strategies through specific BIM implementation goals and plans and demonstrating a proper organisational vision. Moreover, the criterion should allocate monetary and professional resources in the field that would solidify BIM implementation processes — while still working on processes, procedures, and organisational structure. The latter aspects often lag behind in recent years as BIM rapidly developed.

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Best BIM practices

A portion of the interview for BIM maturity were questions on the use of BIM, its work process implementations, the reasons for its use, and the hindrances to adoption.

According to the study, the main reasons for using BIM among organisations were for increased work efficiency and reduced cost. Falling behind these reasons was the external motivation coming from client requests, which correlate to limited strategy planning and more flexible projects.

An organisation’s level of BIM knowledge and experience are the greatest obstacles to BIM adoption. The study shows that respondents tend to be dissatisfied with more experienced strategic partners and more mature BIM projects — if they cannot cope with planned BIM methods or if they cannot deliver what they promised in advance, they tend to be discouraged and end up not achieving their project goals. According to the interviewees themselves, there is a need to improve and impose contractual incorporation of BIM.

Open BIM standards and other trends

BIM practitioners in the Netherlands believe that BIM can completely change the construction industry when open BIM standards are in practice. The Netherlands already have experience with open standards, as seen with the Dutch Information Exchange Standards (VISI) in the Netherlands and the new BIM Loket.

The Building Information Counsel (BIR) ensures national standards and alignments within the Dutch construction industry while VISI is used internationally as it is included as Part 2 (Interaction Framework) of the ISO standard, Building Information Models — Information Delivery Manual.

For Rijkswaterstaat (Dutch General Directorate for Public Works and Water Management) representative and European BIM Task Group member, Benno Koehorst, BIM is not only about modelling but it is also about information management.

The BIM digital processes and how they work with each other and the quality of works produced seem to be more important than modelling itself. Within Rijkswaterstaat, the agency specifies properly documented requirements of the data structure that needs to be exchanged which comes with specific requirements for the data exchange process itself.

Requirements for the data structures are set in object type libraries (CB-NL standard in compliance with the international standard IFD) and are somehow similar to the bSDD (buildingSMART Data Dictionary). This set of standards was developed by Rijkswaterstaat alongside contractors of the Dutch construction industry. The information exchange process is also standardised following specific Netherlands open standards.

What Rijkswaterstaat and the rest of the Dutch construction sector are for those open standards to be adopted by the IT industry and allow the development of IT products that would work and utilise the Dutch BIM open standards. Once that is realised, the Dutch construction sector would then be fully interoperable and collaborative with all the stakeholders involved in projects within the sector and the whole lifecycle processes of a construction project can then be managed easily.

The idea is to define these standards so that construction professionals and firms can choose whatever software they would like to use and achieve their building goals regardless of what software they use. This is a good way of levelling the construction field for all players from a public perspective.

To get a bigger picture of the Dutch construction sector and the current innovations it’s undergoing to digitalise construction processes, complement this informative article on smart construction logistics with a comprehensive article on the digital transformation of Dutch construction.

Supplement this further with the blog post on the BIM Loket, the Netherlands’ BIM gateway. For further information that will help you increase overall construction productivity, download our free ebook, The Circle of Productivity.

This article is based on the BIM Community Report on Holland and the coBuilder feature on Benno Koehorst.

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