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The BIM revolution in the construction sector

#talkingwith Francisco Coutinho / Seveme

At the forefront of the aluminum façade and metal structure industry, Seveme is a company with a remarkable track record of global projects, which seeks on a daily basis to help redefine quality standards throughout the construction industry. Today, we’re #talking to Francisco Coutinho, Seveme’s Commercial Coordinator, to talk about the BIM revolution in the construction sector and how the whole industry can make better use of the technology currently available.

What is the most complex and challenging project you have ever undertaken?

We have tackled a number of very challenging projects around the world, each with its own distinct characteristics. One notable example is the Museum of Image and Sound in Brazil, which we developed back in 2013. With an entire design developed in 3D, several intersections between glass façades and metal structures, and the pressure of being thousands of kilometers away, the challenge was enormous and complex. The use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) played a crucial role, allowing us to significantly advance BIM integration and improve coordination between the parties involved.
We also had similar challenges in other countries. In Algeria, we faced the challenge of size and complexity, with a 24-storey building with the entire metal structure and exterior mesh in extruded aluminum profiles developed by Seveme. The whole process, from development to production, was a monumental and challenging task – for example, the entire design of the façade profile, due to its specific characteristics, had to be tested in a wind tunnel in London to see if it would work. And it did!

How do you use the technology in your day-to-day work, and what advantages does it bring?

BIM is a fundamental tool in our operations. At Seveme we use Tekla, a modeling and preparation software. We use it at various stages of the project, including planning and modeling. The software then exports everything for production and assembly. In the case of the work we’re doing with Beelt, a previous point cloud survey was carried out using laserscan, which was imported directly into our software. In this way, we are working even more in the “real” world, increasing the accuracy of the final output.

These gains are not just confined to our work. When used across different teams and contracts, the technology allows us to create detailed digital models that identify and solve design problems before production, improving collaboration between everyone and reducing construction and correction errors. In BIM it is possible to integrate all aspects of a project, from where the pipes are located to the entrance of unloading vehicles on site, for a complete understanding of how the material is delivered to the site. This leads to gains in efficiency and precision, resulting in savings in time and resources.

How did you use technology to develop the structure of the São Bento building?

Technology played an important role in the development of the São Bento structure. As mentioned above, the contractor provided us with a point cloud – a set of three-dimensional coordinates that represent the building in space – which, when imported into our software, allowed us to create precise digital models directly on top of the existing reality. This digital support was particularly important as we had to deal with a historic building with many “hidden” layers. The point cloud allowed us to accurately capture the geometry of the building and create digital models that served as the basis for our work.

You are one of the most technologically developed parts of the construction sector, why is that? Is it a matter of necessity?

The use of BIM has evolved significantly at Seveme because we recognized its advantages early on. We invested in internal training and adopted BIM as an essential tool for the planning and management of all contracts. We believe that building information modeling is not just a passing trend, but an indispensable tool in the modern construction industry.

Is combining your work with other activities on site that are less developed a complex process?

All measurement survey work on a construction site is, by its nature, complex. However, when all the parties involved make use of technology, it undoubtedly makes the process easier. Imagine, for example, the case of dozens of pipes that are not part of the original project, but which need to conform to our structure. In the absence of a digital model, the time spent on modeling, both for us and for the team responsible for the pipes, will be considerably longer, and the chances of error are always present during the execution of the work.

Integrating BIM models can be complex, but when all parties involved use the technology, the process is made easier. Unfortunately, most companies cannot yet anticipate the positive impact of a larger initial financial investment in BIM technology. However, as BIM technology becomes more prevalent, integration will become less complex. Ideally, we want everyone involved in a project to use BIM to create a truly collaborative and efficient environment.

How can use be increased across the board?

The government and regulators have an important role to play in promoting and demanding the adoption of BIM. If regulators set requirements for the use of BIM in construction projects, market adoption will rise more quickly. In some processes in which we are involved abroad, it is already mandatory to manage the entire project in BIM.

Is it easy for Seveme to recruit staff who know how to work in BIM?

Finding staff experienced in BIM can be challenging. However, we are committed to developing internal talent and we invest in ongoing training for our team. The ability to work with BIM technology is an essential skill in the modern construction industry, and we recognize the importance of cultivating this skill internally.

Speaking of the construction sector as a whole, what are the biggest current difficulties? And the biggest challenges?

The construction sector faces a number of difficulties, including a lack of skilled labor, tight deadlines and fluctuating raw material prices. The lack of skilled labor is a significant challenge, and finding people with experience in these technologies can be difficult. In addition, tight deadlines are a constant in construction, and any delay can have significant consequences in terms of costs and schedule. Fluctuations in the prices of raw materials, such as steel and aluminum, can also impact project costs and affect profitability.

Looking ahead to the next few years, the biggest challenges, in my opinion, are twofold: making BIM technology a standard throughout the industry and retaining qualified staff. Although BIM is becoming more and more prevalent, there is still resistance to its adoption. Convincing all stakeholders of the importance of BIM and ensuring that it is widely used is an ongoing challenge. In addition, retaining qualified staff in a competitive market is crucial to our company’s long-term success.

There’s no doubt that the across-the-board use of BIM tools improves efficiency, reduces costs and benefits everyone involved in a project, from the building owner, through the contractor and subcontractors, to those responsible for building maintenance. We now need to continue promoting education and awareness of the advantages of BIM across the board in our sector.


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