There is no alternative to building information modeling (BIM) in the construction industry: This was what the speakers of the 16th KZA round of experts agreed on. But how can the digital planning method unfold its full potential? This question was discussed by planners and building owners in front of about 60 guests in the Essen office KZA.

Three and a half years ago, BIM was the topic of a KZA expert round for the first time. “At that time, it was almost exotic,” emphasized KZA’s CEO Axel Koschany. But the speakers’ contributions showed right from the start how fast the development has progressed since then – and that for some it still seems too slow. For example, the builder Alexander Kranki, managing director of the IT service provider Krankikom in Duisburg.

Building is an incredibly analogous process, stressed Kranki with a view to the emergence of his new headquarters in Duisburg inner harbor. The building, designed and planned by KZA, has been under construction for a few weeks. But until then he had to deal with various mountains of paper, stressed Krank. “We did not know such a thing any more: where we come from, everything is digital.” A centralized digital building model, in which all planners involved work, is indispensable for efficient planning – but not necessarily a reality. “As an outsider, you are surprised that BIM is not always thought through consistently.”

One reason could be the complex processes involved in the implementation of the BIM method, which was explained by Niklas Brandmann, Head of Digitization / BIM at Wolff & Müller Holding. The group of companies from Stuttgart is responsible for the construction of the Krankikom headquarters as a general contractor and has already focused on BIM since 2011. “Meanwhile, we are getting more and more requests from builders who want to work with BIM.” Jean-Luc Perrin, Project Mentor at the new Felix Platter Hospital in Basel, has also deliberately opted for the planning method. The building will go into operation next year. “A construction project without BIM is inevitable these days – unless you want to burn your money,” said Perrin at the KZA Expert Roundup. Nevertheless, the planning process is full of stumbling blocks. “Digital planning, construction and operation therefore need new forms of project partnership.”

In addition, planners would have to be prepared to open up to new workflows and work internationally, added Peter Knoch, Head of Consulting at the Spectrum Group in Moscow. “BIM is not a planning method, but a completely new way of thinking,” emphasized Knoch. In Russia, planning with BIM is already widespread. “Once you’ve done it, you do not want to miss it again.” KZA Managing Director Wolfgang Zimmer agreed with this experience in the discussion: “We work with BIM, we learn every day and look forward to many more BIM projects.”