As I travel around the world and share my experiences and gain knowledge, I often find myself wondering if there will come a time when the trade of a bricklayer no longer exists.
Will all construction projects be automated using only machines and technology?
Will the design and engineering become automated?
I sat with a few industry professionals, discussing the same. As I sat with them, a few questions came to mind:
- With all of these advances in technology, are we really making any change? Or are we simply programming and pushing buttons to create square tiles, straight walls, corners that meet perfectly with no gap or overlap?
- What happens to the creativity and art of designing and building the infrastructure?
- If BIM does become extinct as one of the gentlemen feared, will there be a mass production of buildings using automation?
- Will contractors still need an army of skilled employees or will they be replaced by machines in the very near future?
No matter what changes occur in the future, our work will still involve manual labour. There is an opportunity for those of us who believe in craftsmanship and those who understand what it takes to bring drawings to life. By understanding what it takes to create a beautiful building you can innovate with technology while maintaining your company’s core values.
Ultimately, BIM technology will get to a point where it can digitise physical components and create virtual building models that interact with other digital entities. At that point, we won’t really be using 3D models anymore—we’ll be using another form of human-machine interaction that we can’t even predict yet. But the fact remains that BIM is here, and with its evolution being continuous, who’s to say where it will go in the next five years? The point is, embracing technology doesn’t mean you have to make it 100% automated. The creativity of human architects and designers is a vital part of the process, and will remain so.
In 5 years, there’s a chance that some of the processes we are doing today will be changed. But the need for human input and decision-making will still remain. People who have experience and expertise will always have a role to play even in a completely abandoned design process. The Internet of Things era is on its way, with billions of devices connected to each other in short order. And BIM will remain a relevant and useful tool as we go through this transition. Finishing construction projects faster and more efficiently is already a reality with BIM’s technology, and many software will only continue to evolve to meet our needs to move forward.
The BIM process is revolutionary, although there are still aspects of the process that can be considered quite manual. BIM is not supposed to be an all or nothing approach. Rather, it is meant to enable a certain way of working with technology and design that enables more efficiency in the process overall. Due to this fact, we feel that BIM will continue gaining momentum in the industry, but will do so as an evolution rather than a revolution.
BIM is not going away.