Building information modelling increases construction quality and reduces errors
The Centre of Excellence is the first of its kind in the Baltic States and is committed to BIM throughout the life cycle of the building. BIM stands for building information modelling, a process wherein data necessary for designing the building or installation, planning its cost, and constructing, handling, and renovating it is created and managed.
According to Jaak Aaviksoo, Rector of TalTech, cooperation between technical universities is the foundation on which the top competence in building information modelling in the Nordic and Baltic countries will be built. ‘Compared to other sectors, construction is facing the greatest challenges of digitisation and automation, because high turnover and high construction prices speed up the need to improve productivity and efficiency, and this would benefit many consumers,’ said Aaviksoo.
The universities of technology in Tallinn, Vilnius, and Riga will contribute to the centre with researchers, know-how, and scientific equipment. The main tasks of the centre are the training of top-level specialists, the creation of joint curricula, and more intensive collaboration on research. At TalTech, the Centre of Excellence is managed by the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture. In the recently opened BIM study class at the university, students and working professionals can learn from the best practices.
Jarek Kurnitski, Director of the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture of TalTech, expressed hopes that BIM will have the same success story and increase in quality that could be seen in the powerful improvement in the energy performance of buildings. ‘The BIM Centre of Excellence will provide momentum and bring closer together the digital engineering cluster, the initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and the digital initiative TalTechDigital, designed to use and develop modern technologies in the best way in all university activities,’ said Professor Kurnitski.
It is important to link the BIM field with different engineering subjects at the beginning of the students’ learning process, enriching teaching with experience from global projects such as the 117-kilometre Crossrail railway and the 530-kilometre high-speed railway High Speed 2 in England.
For example, major projects such as Rail Baltica require digital technology specialists who, through BIM, make design, construction, and maintenance more efficient and transparent.
Alfonsas Daniūnas, the Rector of the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, confirms that the implementation of BIM is indispensable for renewing the construction sector and improving competitiveness. ‘The fourth industrial revolution and digitalisation call for and cause major changes around the world. The great need for civil engineers is the reason why the Vilnius Gediminas University of Technology decided to take the initiative to establish the BIM Centre of Excellence with other top universities in the Baltic States. The aim of the centre is to train architects as well as environmental and infrastructure engineers in addition to building specialists,’ emphasises Rector Daniūnas.
While CAD design is generally two-dimensional, BIM is a 3D model that helps its users find design errors, correct them before construction, and keep the cost of the building under control, as well as perform various simulations (including energy and indoor climate and building processes) to find the best project solution. After the building is completed, a digital twin is created of it that can be integrated, for example, into building maintenance. CAD has no such capability.
In Estonia, BIM was used to build the dormitory of TalTech at Akadeemia tee 5a, which has been renovated as a nearly zero-energy building, and it is also planned to renovate the Mäepealse test building using this model and pilot its maintenance based on a BIM model. BIM models have also been used, for example, to manage the London Heathrow Airport and build the new airport in Istanbul.