Digital Construction: EBC attends Czech Presidency’s Conference on Digital Construction

On 9 and 10 November, EBC attended the conference on Digital Construction organised by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade in the context of the Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Conference discussed the digital transition of the construction ecosystem though the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and highlighted some key challenges for the industry.

It quickly emerged in the discussions that the targets towards any construction 4.0 scenario cannot be achieved without the strategic onboarding of SMEs. SME specificities, and especially those of microenterprises, need to be considered for the update and adoption of digital information requirements, tools, and methods in the sector. The European Commission stated the importance of EU funded programs that support the adoption of digital technologies from SMEs and the development of the relevant skills, mentioning specifically the example of the Horizon 2020 project BIM4REN as a pioneer investigating SME-friendly BIM tools for building renovation projects.

The first day of the conference was organised around two major topics: the digital transition of the public sector with a focus on digital building permits, and the showcasing of digitalisation technologies in use which go beyond BIM. In the first panel, it was supported that the use of BIM shall be promoted as a tool to facilitate data sharing, and not as an administrative obligation; in addition, the importance to train public buyers and public authorities on the uniqueness of the construction sector was highlighted. Similarly, the panel on digital building permits concluded that the authorities should request only existing information, and simply structure that same information in a digital format, with the use of standards. Finally, a peak into the future of construction demonstrated the possibilities that innovative technologies could offer to increase efficiency and sustainability, and how the industry could evolve to seize their full potential.

The second day developed the discussions around the development of a common Framework on Digital Building Logbooks (DBLs), the use of open standards, and on how the use of modern technologies can attract young talent. The European Commission discussed the efforts to create a common framework to collect data among the different countries, and the current difficulties. Then, the second panel presented possibilities of openBIM to implement both the green and the digital transition of the construction sector though a collaborative process. The final panel discussed how to integrate BIM as a way of thinking into education and training, and how to use it to improve the attractiveness of the sector. The conference concluded with a call for collaboration among the relevant actors.

EBC had the opportunity to exchange with several stakeholders during the conference, emphasizing the need to prior the needs of crafts and SMEs when developing strategies or products for the digitalisation of the sector, notably by simplifying them. Moreover, EBC advocated for the minimisation of administrative barriers for SMEs, in order to support their digitalisation efforts.

EBC looks forward to further engaging with stakeholders on the strategic and instrumental topic of the digitalisation of the construction sector.