"Using BIM has taken us from a traditional approach to digital realisation."
During a residential building project of approximately 600 flats in Uppsala, Sweden, the windows and doors manufacturer NorDan used their digital building products hosted in the BIMobject® Cloud in a groundbreaking pilot project with one of Sweden’s biggest construction companies. We sat down with Andreas Långström, Head of Product Development at NorDan, to discuss attitude changes, new ways of working, and channelling the potential of BIM.
The NorDan BIM objects served as information carriers throughout the planning and building process. Andreas explains how the involved parties were able to meet earlier in the planning stage and were connected through the flow of information:
“Information became a form of communication. With the data in place, the project phases are shortened, and accuracy is increased. We were able to visualise the finished product immediately – in this case, a large residential building.“
Using BIM technology in the project opened up new ways of working. Andreas laughs as he remembers how the absence of finished drawings caused surprise during the first meeting:
“I had to spend a few minutes explaining that that was precisely the point! We had tossed out conventional pricing models and opted for instant collaboration instead.”
With everyone starting out on the same page, time and effort spent on handover is minimised for both the NorDan team and their partners:
“For one thing, we were able to cut out window specification as a step in the workflow entirely. But more importantly, we were all able to focus on our respective areas of expertise. Simply put, each person took over when it was time to do what they’re best at. Architects aren’t experts on windows – and they shouldn’t have to be! Instead, they can contribute with overall design, aesthetics and statics.”
Andreas stresses that one of the biggest challenges has been adopting new ways of thinking, but that the team’s learning curve for a digitalised design workflow pointed steeply upward:
“The project has led to a larger attitude change in how we look at digitalisation here at NorDan. There is such potential in BIM objects, but realising that potential depends on how we handle them and their data. What we’ve seen are more intelligent approaches to the various challenges within the project, and smarter utilisation of both time and skill of those involved in it.” As a result, team members enjoyed easier, quicker processes with less frustration and more fun while on the job.
Implementing the new approach has changed the role of the NorDan team. “Using BIM has taken us from a traditional approach to digital realisation. The costs saved used to be seen as an inevitable expense, but we’ve realised we don’t just have to accept them” says Andreas.
With the new approach, the team were able to identify potential problems in the project early enough to avoid unnecessary costs further down the line.
“Thanks to BIM, our forward planning is at an unprecedented level, with time frames now at around a year, as opposed to just 12 weeks”, Andreas states. But there is another benefit for NorDan: Effectively, their sales team can get started on the next project a lot sooner, because the competencies are freed up more quickly.
Reflecting on their journey, Andreas points out that NorDan examined the part they play in a larger context:
“The problems of inefficiency and wasted costs in the building industry can’t be solved as isolated fragments. We felt the positive effects of working with BIM throughout the entire project, down to a subcontractor level. This, in turn, of course means that these players also have to change and adapt their ways of working to accommodate data management.“
While the BIM objects are only one part of the process, Andreas argues that they have been crucial in bringing about a fundamental change in attitude:
“I think we pride ourselves on being open towards change, because it’s not something you can just opt out of. BIM has been a catalyst for us. Another key aspect is that we’ve experienced the shortcomings of conventional work methods. It was obvious that using resources to address them and move towards digital solutions was a wise investment.”