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BIM implementation across geographies: Europe vs the USA

Written by Anton Kaplun

BIM implementation article by Anton Kaplun for GAMMA AR
The construction industry is one of the most important sectors of the economy in the USA and on the European continent with huge construction developments planned for 2023, such as skyscrapers, power plants, and hospitals, which cost several million or even several billion USD/Euros. Flamanville 3 (a nuclear power plant in France -2,7 m €), Madison Square Garden Sphere (a sphere-shaped music and entertainment arena, USA - $2.8 Billion), and Crossrail (a railway project, UK - 23,3 Billion €) - each of these projects are extremely costly, and of course, design of these projects is based on BIM technology to reduce the cost of construction by identifying potential conflicts and errors early in the design process. Nowadays, no one will argue about the BIM implementation, but what was the way to get to this point, and do we have differences between BIM usage in Europe and US?

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Who Is Ahead in the Game?

Back in 2004, the EU initiated the eEurope Action Plan, which aimed to promote the use of information and communication technologies in various sectors, including construction. Through the European Construction Technology Platform, which identified BIM as a key technology for the construction industry in 2007, the EU launched the EU BIM Task Group, which in 2014 developed the EU BIM Handbook with guidance on BIM implementation for public authorities and industry stakeholders.

Simultaneously with that, in 2003, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released a report on the use of BIM in construction in the USA. This report identified BIM as a transformative technology for the AEC industry and recommended the development of national BIM standards. This led to the first version of the BIM protocol in 2007, by the American Institute of Architects, and the National BIM Standard-United States (NBIMS-US) in 2009.

With similar paths, it led to different results: in the EU, BIM has been mandated for publicly funded construction projects since 2016, while in the USA – BIM technology is not mandatory and has different levels of implementation from state to state. The mandate has led to a significant increase in BIM adoption across the EU, and increased BIM outsourcing in the USA for complicated projects.

Needless to say, that the “BIM” term means a usage of different software, and here is also a difference between The EU and the USA. 83% of BIM engineers in the USA use Autodesk Revit in comparison with 62% of BIM engineers who use Autodesk Revit and 23% who use Allplan in the EU. The software competition plays into the hands of EU engineers: the development process is not frozen and leads to more innovative and user-friendly BIM software.

Fast BIMspreading and adoption, wide BIM software range, high education level and natural engineering curiosity led Europe engineers to the first position in the BIM field. 

Why AR Is the Next Big Thing?

BIM-based software can help prevent errors in the design phase but when it comes to the execution on the construction site – little could help until now with physical errors. But the rise of Augmented Reality (AR),  that can visualize BIM models also on-site changes this. Especially mobile AR, like GAMMA AR, makes this technology more accessible and the benefits become more widely recognized. Visual alignment to avoid model/field preparations and smartphones instead of heavyweight standalone glasses makes the adoption process easy and fast. GAMMA AR workflow is based on IFC file types (additional info is here), which makes it open for USA users (Autodesk Revit, Bentley Systems’ BIM software), and for EU ones (Allplan, ArchiCAD, and Tekla Structures).

There are no immediate plans to make AR implementation mandatory in construction, but more and more asset owners start adding this requirement to their tender requirements because of all the benefits AR brings: improved visualization and communication, reduced errors and rework, increased safety on job sites (discover more here); and looking at BIM implementation in the USA and EU – it’s worth it to start here first,  bring AR value to the building site, and win competitor race together with GAMMA AR.


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