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Webinar hosted by Vincent Martin, BSolutions

On Thursday, July 2nd, manufacturers and AEC professionals attended the first webinar "Thursday specifying" (co-organized with Polantis). Vincent Martin, BSolutions (Belgian engineering and architecture agency) talked about the 4.0 revolution and the BIM Managemennt. Meeting Minutes.

Vincent presented his vision about the 4.0 industry revolution and the evolution, with the specific stakes and impacts of the construction industry.

  • What is the current reality and where are we heading?
  • What are the paradigm shifts because BIM is often perceived as a 3D model that does not change work habits.
  • What is the role of the BIM manager in this digital transition? Accompanying change and the different players.

BSolutions is a Belgian engineering, logistics, and industrial architecture firm based in Namur and has more than 100 employees. Founded 20 years ago by 3 partners, the office has evolved since its creation. It includes 8 competences:

  • BIM and BIM management
  • Infrastructure
  • Stability
  • Project Management
  • Sustainable development
  • Health, safety on site
  • Industrial architecture

BSolutions is a multifaceted incubator that allows testing applications and has an interesting view of business transformations from a BIM point of view. Vincent Martin, has been working at BSolutions for 3 years, with an architect background and about ten years of experience. Vincent is architect and BIM Implementation Manager at BSolutions.

Revolution 4.0

Since 1780, we've experienced 3 revolutions. Today, we are in the 4th revolution, that of digitalization, which includes connectivity, Artificial Intelligence, and data management, which is going to become essential and bring a real disruption in all aspects of life. And we are moving into the 5th revolution: extreme cooperation and ultra-personalization with co-working (co-bots, work-sharing between the machine and humans).

The current 4th revolution is composed of several aspects:

  • Connectivity via internet
  • Mobile device
  • Geolocalization
  • Authentications
  • 3D printing

What is at stake in these components?

Digitalisation and global integration of production and services. Most services are centralized, customers have access to data. The current revolution has reached the service-producing industry first. The construction industry is also undergoing changes. We must not stick to these achievements and think that the world is not going to change. Surveyors, architects, engineers, project managers, whatever the profession, the competition can quickly sweep the players in place and define new rules. 

The revolution has changed the services, digital adaptation has been easier but involves resolving regulatory issues: - Banking, travel agencies (points of sale are decreasing and online purchases are increasing), real estate, hotels, the evolution of mobility... All these new insights are coming into the culture, it's starting to make sense, but these new paradigms have disrupted the existing processes. 

There are some trends in the tertiary industry despite some differences from one country to another:

  •  Collaborative models competing with pre-established services...
  •  Decrease of the physical stores,
  •  Legal disruption
  •  Emergence of start-ups before the creation of a monopoly (scooters, bicycles, and shared mobility...)
  •  The GAFA are looking to take ownership of the new functionalities.  

Finally, we are experiencing a macro-economic revolution. BIM is one of the components of this revolution in the construction industry.

Example of a change for surveyors: The easy acquisition of 3D scans changes the role of existing surveyors. The latter have to move back into the production of digital models to differentiate themselves from the competition.

In the previous revolution, industry plants (physical in developing countries) were relocated, the revolution was driven by "cost-driven" but the current revolution is likely to be driven by "sustainability and quality". This is why we have paradigm shifts if the actors are technically able to make these changes: "THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL".

The construction sector in this macro-economic vision

The construction industry has many characteristics:

  • Each client's requirements is unique: custom, regulatory, single site,
  • Complex logistics
  • Shortage of qualified profiles
  • Dynamic: the construction industry  is strong on the site, with a strong focus on site, particularly in Belgium,
  • A highly fragmented ecosystem, each step is worked on one after the other.

Those characteristics have consequences:

  • Delayed productivity growth (1%)...
  • Low digitization and innovation
  • Low profits and high risks despite strong growth
  • Low customer satisfaction: regular overruns in terms of budgets and deadlines

Which is not going to change, according to McKinsey's report, "The next normal in Construction" - Tougher regulations - A shortage of manpower - The sophistication of customer demands (tailor-made sector)

The disruption we can expect:

  • Off-site and on-site industrialization
  • Prefabrication, machining will increase
  • The manual part will be reduced,
  • Digitalization of products and processes
  • The introduction of new materials with circularity (changes in handling, towards lighter products)
  • The emergence of new players

The current operating mode of the construction sector:

Today, the pattern is as follows:

  1. The architect develops his project with his client >> permit application
  2. The engineers do the dimensioning, the calculations >> submission to companies
  3. Material ordering and distribution on site
  4. Manual construction on the construction site and a lot of time on site

These stages will become more fluid and evolve tomorrow. The time-scale will be moved back to the study stage. From the moment we work on a complete BIM model that has been completely studied and measured, each object is defined as an object manufactured in the workshop and pre-assembled in advance, which will be delivered and just assembled on site. The time on site will be considerably reduced and the whole process will be optimized.

Source: McKinsey, “The next normal in Construction”

The new mode of operation will be
: Development, Supply > Materials and Equipment > Prefabrication > Coordination and logistics (everything will be ready to be assembled in advance, Site planning), Shorter construction time >> Assembly >> Acceptance

Vincent gives an insight into this evolution with the example of the digital planning permit in Belgium.

As a result of the crisis, some planning permits have been stopped. However, in Flanders, the building permit is completely digitalized, so they did not stop issuing permits during the crisis. In Wallonia, there is a vision to make public permits digital by 2022. The evolution of the digital building permit raises the legal limit of the digital transformation and the brake, resistance to change. There is a need to connect all actors with Cloud Computing. There are many advantages to setting up a digital permit: having all the players on the same platform: project owner, regional and federal town planners, the various controllers, fire & energy, neighbours. There is also a change in time frame, the project is moving forward more quickly...

The transformation must be initiated from the top (one of the criteria of the transformation), the highest person in the hierarchy must do the input even if the transformation is pushed from the bottom. In a BIM project, it must be initiated by investors and project owners.

The entire construction industry must evolve and to do so, it is essential to collaborate and define the role of the BIM Manager

Why is BIM management key in this world of transition and projects?

The BIM Manager must:

  • understand the entire project and stakeholders' interests,
  • seek potential and get people to collaborate (which is not instinctive),
  • manage changes and processes
  • optimize processes
  • reduce inefficiencies in construction
  • increase the quality of the works
  • improve collaboration in a complex world
  • have a global vision owner, operating

The BIM Manager has the means to achieve this:

  • Checking the maturity level of the players
  • Defining with the owner, their vision and objectives of optimization potential
  • understanding how digital collaboration can help to optimize your work and the work of others
  • Defining and implementing the rules of the game
  • Checking, monitoring regularly, and controlling to intervene on all technical, human brakes that may appear as and when needed.

The action of the BIM Manager is to achieve the set objectives. The qualitative result of the BIM Management: the deliverables must be given to the owners with an integration of all the simulations that were done separately for the building: the Augmented Reality, the 3D printing, the on-site model, the monitoring...

Vincent's vision of BIM management:

The construction industry is changing within a global transformation of society. In order to manage this evolution well, you need a Manager who has the vision to lead everyone towards the same goal. Today, we talk more about a process of hybridization and gradual transition: objectives are set and opportunities are sought in each project. The role of the BIM Manager is to overcome resistance to change in a positive way and to bring transparency within this connectivity.

Everyone must move forward to make the process work together. If one actor is at a standstill, everything is stuck. Everyone must become aware and move forward at their own level, everyone must think about how to transform their own business, their own profession and anticipate how they will change. Otherwise, a competitor will do it for you. By moving forward together, things will gradually unblock and we will tend towards a total industrialisation of the construction industry, bearing in mind that this is made-to-measure. Industrialisation must succeed with the specificity of each project, of each client.

Questions & Answers 

  • Is there a standardization of BIM objects?

There was a European standardization process, the harmonization of data allows interoperability and optimization on the project. In the engineer offices, our way of working is not to mix BIM object libraries because they are set up differently. The same library offers the same logic.  

  • How to push companies towards BIM when they don't make 2D plans

In BIM management, if a player cannot follow at the BIM level, the owner can select another, or there is a transfer of responsibilities to another player in the project.

  • Should the client impose BIM in the specifications? 

Yes, especially those who own their assets and who remain so. The final idea of BIM and digital transformation is to put oneself in the place of a project owner and not of each stakeholder. Previously, the work was standardized according to each office. Today, when I collaborate in a BIM vision, I collaborate for deliverables that are common to everyone and I participate in the collaboration. I no longer aim at my own interest in terms of standardization, data and file management, I aim at the interest of the project.

In the past, architects and engineers defined their work process for each project. Now, however, the work logic is imposed, and they must adapt. The expectations in terms of data management will be specific to each project. The added value of working in BIM for the owner is in terms of operation and maintenance: being able to operate the model in 20/30 years.

If you want to read more about BSosolutions, visit their website

The replay is available in French, click here 

French webinaire available here

Ana Patricia Martínez Menéndez • Sep 22, 2020

Elise Monot • Sep 16, 2020


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