University of Twente Student Theses


Stimulating the digital transition in the Italian construction industry

Demarchi, R. (2018) Stimulating the digital transition in the Italian construction industry.

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Abstract:In the last couple of years, Information Technology (IT) has found its way to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, since IT-enabled application have shown their capability of taking over mechanical business and data operations. Within the construction sector, IT application has found its way under the denominator Building Information Modelling (BIM). The adoption of BIM for a design company doesn’t require only a change from the traditional 2D way of design to 3D projects, but a whole process of transition change is necessary. a whole process regarding the company organization, structure and knowledge is necessary to fully understand and use all the advantages deriving from BIM, even if not without challenges, due to the difficulties and costs related to the transition CAD-BIM. Even if BIM implementation in Europe started few years ago, BIM maturity level of European countries is not the same. The literature shows how BIM implementation topic has not reached a high level in the Italian construction sector yet. To this extend, there is insufficient lack of knowledge among BIM design companies on BIM implementation problems and what needs to be done to successfully carry out the digital transition CAD-BIM. As a consequence of the above mentioned problem, the goal of this research is to provide to Italian design companies an overview about what the BIM implementation challenges are and what needs to be done to overcome those issues by defining a sequence of actions to carry out the digitalization process (BIM implementation roadmap). The research aims to provide an answer to the following questions: 1. What are the challenges related to BIM implementation an Italian design firm might encounter? 2. What are the possible strategies and recommendations needed for an Italian design company to overcome the challenges described, and to conduct the digital transition from CAD to BIM and successfully implement BIM into its every-day working routine? This research can be divided into three main phases. In phase one, a theoretical framework have been developed from previous studies such as the TOE framework, the IDT theory and Adriaanse’s framework about what the main BIM implementation challenges are when adopting BIM inside a design firm. Four groups (environmental, organizational, individual and technological) and twenty BIM implementation challenges were collected in the theoretical framework. Specifically, four environmental challenges were collected (regulations and norms, common standards and information exchange, BIM adoption at a national level, level of clients’ request for the use of BIM), eleven organizational challenges (time necessary to adopt new processes, high investment, organizational structure and strategy, top management support, re-define the business model, assign responsibilities for BIM implementation, re-organization of teams, data exchange within the firm, developing a collaborative way of working, promotion of the company’s BIM capacity, contract change arrangements and costs), three individual challenges (cultural aspect, individual drive towards change, knowledge and skills) and three technological challenges (interoperability, current IT infrastructure support, scalability of BIM models). In phase two a case-study approach has been used to analyze the current and expected BIM situation of General Planning (GP), 12th Italian design firm for revenue, investigating which BIM implementation challenges of the previously developed framework were present in the case-study. To this extend, twelve BIM implementation challenges emerged as result of the interview process, which are: (1) Lack of clients’ awareness about BIM advantages and request of BIM, (2) Lack of regulations about BIM models’ privacy, collaboration and in general how to deal with a construction process with BIM, (3) Lack of collaboration between companies, especially when data are not protected, (4) Traditional way of working is still followed without a clear BIM workflow, (5) Lack of well-defined roles and responsibilities, (6) Overcoming the comfort of employees to change their working practice, (7) High initial investment without assessing BIM economic advantages in the short-term, (8) Lack of all the company’s members direction to BIM, (9) exchange and set up of information from the beginning, (10) Promotion of the company’s BIM capacity, (11) Interoperability between different software version, (12) High initial time to be invested to create templates, collaborative way of working and first projects with BIM. All these challenges emerged to be interrelated with the theoretical framework, however sometimes a different definition has been used because more specific and adapted to the context to which the research was conducted. For the environmental challenges found out from the case-study, the framework does not include directly the common standards and information exchange as a relevant challenge, because of a lack of regulations about this concept. However, it can be seen that the lack of regulations refers to the BIM models’ privacy, while the lack of collaboration between companies emerged when data are not protected. From the technological challenges which came up from the theoretical framework, only the interoperability between different software slightly affected the BIM implementation in GP as a result of the strong IT system implemented by the company in the last years. For the individual challenges it can be noticed as inside GP, almost all the designers seem to show difficulties in overcoming the comfort to change their working practice. Some of the challenges from the theoretical framework emerged in the case-study, such as the high initial investment, the lack of company’s direction to BIM, lack of BIM capability’s promotion, information exchange and time-consuming process. However, two new challenges came up, the lack of a clear BIM workflow and, as a consequence, the lack of well-defined roles and responsibilities aligned with the tasks developed through the workflow itself. Moreover, a lack of all company’s members direction to BIM appeared to be relevant, a high top management support emerged, while the business model re-definition did not emerge as a relevant challenge and contract changes will be an important future challenge. In Phase 3, twelve BIM implementation actions and recommendations have been proposed on what needs to be done to overcome the challenges which came up in phase 2. To this extend, the BIM implementation actions proposed are: (A) Development of new regulations about BIM models’ privacy and BIM process, (B) Stimulating the clients’ BIM request in construction projects, (C) Developing a feasibility study for BIM, (D) set up the BIM strategy, (E) Developing a business model for BIM, (F) Developing a BIM workflow, (G) Developing roles and responsibilities inside the BIM workflow, (H) Creation of a marketing department, (I) Forming the BIM implementation group, (J) Trainings of resources and employees – human resource development plan, (K) Developing collaboration and procedural protocol, (L) Developing the technical resource plan. Those actions have been grouped up in a BIM implementation roadmap which is going to be used by Italian design firms facing the digitalization process CAD-BIM. The roadmap represents the sequence of actions which can be followed by a generic Italian design firm trying to overcome the BIM implementation challenges, however, it needs to be adapted to the specific situation of the firm itself. The roadmap was divided into five phases which are: the Initial or preliminary phase, Decision-making phase, Planning phase, Implementing phase and Post implementation phase.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Construction Management and Engineering MSc (60337)
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