Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a major technological and methodological innovation that has swept across the construction industry globally.

Its global rollout has so far been promoted at the state-level, but multinational companies are now key catalysts.

Through the end-to-end digitization of the planning process for construction projects, companies can massively improve productivity and efficiency. In the past this has been notoriously lower than other industries.

A survey by GlobalData indicated that over the last three years the proportion of major construction companies around the world using BIM has increased from 29% to 64%.

The EU has led BIM uptake with a cohesive public-sector implementation plan

Modelling has become a pre-requisite for public sector tenders in various EU countries, thanks to the work of the EU BIM Task Group.

Europe has been led by Nordic countries, which were the earliest adopters of BIM in the world. The rollout of the earliest version in Finland happened in 2002.

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Other regions have followed the EU example. In 2018 government departments in Hong Kong campaigned for construction industry training to meet the Level 2 standards adopted by the UK.

Countries outside of EU are rapidly improving usage

More and more countries outside the EU are leading the way for BIM without the public-sector-first model. However, this could not have been the case without it.

Chile is a prime example, having an established BIM monitor through the Universidad de Chile (UoC) and an improving rate of uptake. This despite a lack of promotion at the state-level.

A report by the UoC’s Facultad de Arquitecta y Urbanismo has shown that BIM was used by 69% of Chilean construction companies in 2019.

The report has been published annually since 2013, when the uptake was just 39%. The process is now a standard in-house procedure for 34% of companies, up from 22% in 2016.

Interestingly, the majority of companies surveyed used BIM for residential and office construction; 89% in total used it on private sector construction projects.

Private sector project owners are partly responsible, but contractors operating both in Chile and internationally are the main drivers, having deployed it across their operations to compete in Europe.

The pressure is also on for late adopters in Europe

Switzerland has been slower to implement BIM than some of its European neighbors, due to a lack of obligation for companies working on public-sector projects.

Implenia, the leading Swiss contractor, reported an uptick in the demand for it from its clients in 2018, and implemented it across 150 projects through the year.

Implenia gains most of its revenues internationally, and the company is putting pressure on the domestic market in Switzerland to act now on the process.

One way or another, construction in the private sector is becoming the main catalyst for the global BIM rollout. This is thanks to the initial organization of public sector implementation.