This is demonstrated by several global examples, such as the Shanghai Tower, which is more than 600 meters tall and was completed in 2014. Thanks to the use of a digital twin, not only was this mega-project completed on time, there were also large savings in both materials and working hours—32 percent for the material costs. Crossrail, in turn, a transport project adding around 118 kilometers of railway tracks through the greater London area, is running according to plan thanks to BIM.
The chemical company BASF is also relying on BIM—and the expertise of TÜV SÜD—to build a clean room in a new laboratory building. “This clean room serves as a reference model for BASF on the effectiveness of BIM,” Rupp says. “We’re helping them with the fundamentals in particular. We’ve developed standards that all participants must adhere to. Right now we’re getting the first digital results that we’re examining.” For a meat processing plant for Rewe, a German supermarket chain, TÜV SÜD is working on the building’s thermal simulation. “With the digital twin, we can simulate cycles within the plant,” Rupp explains. “For meat processing it’s about optimal temperature controls in all areas of the building. Therefore we’re answering the question of how the cooling systems can function safely and reliably.”
Some contractors still feel that they’d be taking a risk — yet the opposite is true.
BIM has conquered the world, albeit not comprehensively. Scandinavia is considered one of the early adopters in using building information modeling. The magazine NBS International BIM Report notes that digital twins are being used in four of five public construction projects in Denmark. Canada, Great Britain and Japan follow in the rankings. And Germany? “Progress is being made,” Wenzel says. “Germany isn’t lagging nearly as far behind as everyone claims.”
Right now Germany is trying to catch up on what it missed in the early phase of BIM adoption. The Federal Republic has put together a three-step plan to follow in the footsteps of BIM pioneers such as Great Britain and Scandinavia. The goal of the phased plan is that BIM will regularly be used for planning and realizing major infrastructure projects of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure by the year 2020.
By the target date of 2020, a number of pilot projects will help to gather experience with the practical application of BIM. One project is the Rastatt Tunnel, a high-speed railway tunnel more than 4 kilometers long that is being built completely underneath Rastatt, a town in Baden-Württemberg near the French border. Another is the Auenbachtal Bridge for Federal Highway 107 in Saxony, where BIM is helping to ensure optimal coordination among the individual technical planners.
That BIM’s use in Germany hasn’t yet moved beyond such pilot projects is also related to the still-prevailing fears many building contractors have. Some of them continue to feel that using a digital twin represents an unknown risk. Yet the opposite is true: BIM ensures that contractors achieve greater cost certainties and minimize risks. “The rather conservative construction industry, which has worked according to fixed patterns for decades, must now reorganize itself to a large extent,” Rupp says. “That they’re somewhat hesitant to do so is completely understandable. It’s not as if participating companies can purchase a standard software package they’re familiar with and immediately understand how it all works. But that’s where a company like TÜV SÜD can provide efficient support.”