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It was in the early twentieth century...

…when Henry Ford — through the Batch Production System (BPS) — reduced the time it took to build a car from more than twelve hours to just two hours. Since then, the automobile industry has seen multiple disruptions and innovations.

Now a new car can come out of an Assembly Line every 3 seconds.

Ford Motor Factory 1920

The product itself — which is the car — has evolved from a modest mechanical marvel to a complex intelligent system, comprising an array of technologies, electronics, and materials.
Initially, the automobile industry was driven by Mass Production, Lean Methodologies, and Globalisation. However, with the advent of industry 4.0, the future of the automobile industry is hinged on data-led manufacturing.
Industry 4.0 has disrupted every sector and industry today, likewise.
Data, they say, is the new oil, today.
Products are increasingly becoming servitized.
I mean when you purchase an iPhone today, you just purchased a piece of service from Apple.
When you purchase an Electric Vehicle (EV) from Tesla today, you just got yourself a piece of service that is continuously being monitored and analysed remotely for improvements and maintenance.
Even MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) services in the aviation sector rely heavily on data for predictive maintenance and analytics.
So, it becomes obvious that the focus — for these sectors — is the final product, which is otherwise a service.
While the process that produces these products is very vital, the attention is more on the user experience with these products than it is on the process.

Building Information Modeling

So my question is this

Why is the construction sector seemingly stuck with figuring out what BIM is and what BIM is not?

So, I will put it in another way, we have become more facility-centric as an industry, and less user-centric.

By user-centric facilities, I mean facilities that are designed as services, leveraging Data Analytics to capture and improve the end-user experience — just like in sister industries.

So, the theme of this article is that

The intersection between Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Smart Buildings is Digital Twins

  1. Advanced analytics — Through Machine Learning, this data can be used to predict and simulate the future condition or deterioration of the asset in question.
  2. Computing Power — Cloud-based technology vastly improves the affordability and availability of the computing power required to run large-scale digital twin models for these industries.
  3. Accessibility — Where previously a digital twin may have been locked in the control room of a factory or organization, this data can now be accessed from anywhere via mobile devices.

But what exactly is a Smart Building?

Smart Building Technology is the process of conceiving, designing, constructing, commissioning, and operating buildings, leveraging technology to optimize the goals and objectives of the built environment

 James Sinopoli, Author

  1. Entertainment Systems: such as Audio and Video Distribution Systems, Gaming Solutions, as well as Virtual/Augmented Reality.
  2. Security Systems: such as Access Control Systems, IP Surveillance Systems, as well as Cybersecurity Systems.
  3. Communication Systems: such as Teleconference Systems, IP Telephony Systems, as well as Digital Signage Systems.
  4. Utility Systems: such as Healthcare Systems, Irrigation Systems, as well as BMS
  5. Lifestyle Systems: such as Social Media, Wearables and Smart Gadgets/IoT Devices
  6. Control Systems: which is the overarching platform that unites all the other systems.

Even more importantly, how will the BIM Model be converted to a Digital Twin that communicates with the Smart Building in realtime?

Going back to those enabling technologies that had made Digital Twin implementation possible in sister industries, you realise that we have the infrastructure in place already.

  1. The second enabler is Data Analytics. There are already some platforms in the industry that analyse the data coming from these devices in a unified way, and offer actionable insights. Such a platform as Mindsphere from Siemens is a good example.
  2. The third enabler is Computing Power. These platforms — including Facility Management Systems (FMS) are all cloud-based today. This drastically improves computing power, as well as affordability and availability.
  3. The fourth enabler is Accessibility. Being cloud-based, these insights can be easily accessed from mobile devices from any part of the globe.


Onyema Udeze

Onyema Udeze is the host of The Blaze Podcast.
He is the co-founder of Blaze Inc., a fast-rising startup, based in Nigeria that is tackling the inefficiencies in the built sector through numerous channels; such as services, and interactive contents.
He is also a Founding Director of ‘BIM Africa Initiative’, which is a pan-African, membership-based, non-profit organisation that is charged with BIM Awareness and Implementations across Africa.
He is the author of the book Essentials of Smart Building Technology, which is currently available on all the popular e-book stores.
He is an Instructor at Linkedin Learning.
He is an Autodesk Certified Professional for Revit Architecture, Mechanical and Electrical.
By profession, he is an Architect. But he has a vast interest in Technology Solutions in the built sector, especially those with relevant applications across Africa.

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