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BIM is dead, long live…?

Fashions come and go, though predictably at a slower pace in construction than on the high street.

Nonetheless, our industry loves a good fashionable buzzword or phrase as much as any other sector.

Whether that’s sustainability, one-stop-shop, value-engineering, on-time and to-budget, or collaboration (Egan and Latham, anyone?).

Construction News has been reporting on the technical and cultural revolution of BIM for a little under a decade, so it’s certainly one that has exhibited staying power.

But there’s a new kid on the block.

“Let’s stop talking about BIM and start talking about digital construction,” said Atkins technical director Anne Kemp, while giving the keynote at yesterday’s annual BIM Conference, organised by the University of Salford.

Ms Kemp is of course referring to the breadth of digital solutions, which while advancing the methodologies of construction delivery, may fall outside of the building information modelling umbrella.

Hear, hear. CN is generally an early adopter when it comes to championing a good initiative, in fact it’s often to be seen whipping the horses while driving them.

Indeed, the BIM categories at this year’s Specialists and CN Awards will be broadened to welcome entries on innovative and inspirational digital construction in recognition of the changing technology landscape.

But one of the truisms about fashion is that it’s cyclical. Sitting in on last week’s face-to-face judging for the BIM category at the Specialists, one presenter made note that “BIM is 20 per cent about technology and 80 per cent about collaboration”.

Cynicism aside, it wouldn’t be a progressive industry if we were all using the same set of buzzwords forever – even if trying to move at the pace of the fashion industry is never going to help anybody in an environment where projects can take several years to deliver, and then often at the most slender of margins.

Regardless, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, advanced scanning and drones are just a handful of technologies gaining traction throughout the sector.

And with some of the software companies that have pushed the envelope in the BIM arena already looking for the next space to own, a cry goes out: BIM is dead, long live digital construction.

Well, for a decade or so at least.

Got 5 minutes?

Leeds-based businesses Drawn Metal Limited and DML Architectural Systems have been placed in administration.

Got longer?

Skanska shows off cutting-edge technology on one of the UK’s biggest health sector construction schemes in this week’s project report. You can also watch Skanska project director Kevin Kilcoyne give an overview of the powerhouse project.

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