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Entrevista a Rob Roef (EN)

Open BIM and Project Management – Rob Roef - "BIM Captain”



We have interviewed Rob Roef to learn his vision on how to apply BIM in Project Management. Demystifying that BIM methodology only applies in building sector and how it interacts with IoT, Data Analytics, Digital twins and IA technologies. He gave us some tips on how “paper” professionals can transform themselves into digital by describing the skills to be develop.


Rob Roef, also known as the BIM Captain from Rotterdam, has had the opportunity to explore the different corners of the BIM world during the many foreign trips he has taken around the world. As a result, Rob has learned to understand many cultures and concepts. He leverages these experiences and discussions to connect people and help organizations solve their management and organizational issues. Rob is currently active within TNO, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, where as a Business Developer he researches the collaboration between market and science, of course with BIM as the main focus! Rob led the open BIM Program at GRAPHISOFT during 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 and is active within buildingSMART, assisting the construction industry with learning to speak the language of openBIM. Rob has over 25 years’ experience under his belt. He prefers not to speak to people who talk about BIM using difficult words. Because, in Rob’s opinion, If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough!


Rob, you are one of the greatest promoters of Open BIM, can you explain conceptually what this term refers to? 

openBIM - trademarked by buildingSMART - is for me the only way to exchange meaningful information in a digitized process. Because everyone has a free choice of which tools they want to work with, there is a natural selection based on competent and on the software they work with. In addition, if not all participants during the physical construction work with the same toolsets, why should we do so in the creation of our digital version? 


BIM often is being associated just to the Building Sector, can tell us about the use in other sectors such as Energy, Infrastructure or Manufacturing industry?

 Good question! At TNO, I work in the Business Unit; Construction, Infrastructure & Maritime (Great abbreviation by the way – BI&M -, isn't it?) and I also wondered what the relationship is here. As BIM is becoming more and more established, it is now emerging as a sector and has many interfaces with, for example, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), but also drilling platforms and wind turbines. Moreover, with regard to sensors, major steps are being taken in the development of (international) standards for exchange. As a result, developments such as Machine Learning, IoT and Digital Twins are coming closer together. The team of which I am a member is explicitly concerned with the overlapping information and tries to realize cross-links so that all developments can keep up with each other and so that teams can learn from each other!


How can you explain the relation between BIM and digital transformation? How does BIM interacts with other technological areas such as IoT, Data Analytics, Digital twins or AI?

 As I mentioned earlier, we are examining the various relationships between these developments. After all, it is not evident that everyone can keep up, especially in view of the enormous speed with which these developments are coming towards us. What we see happening is that many countries have defined an enormous economic task for our construction sector. A large number of homes have to be built (the world population continues to increase) and circularity is also receiving the attention it deserves. However, this means that once traditional building and design methods are used, we can no longer keep up with the desired speed. As a sector, we have to innovate, leave more to machines (computers, AI) and put knowledge in Digital Twins, rather I speak of Predictive Twins myself. In the meantime, we are gathering so much data (BIG data) that we need to be able to predict a better lifespan, both economically and in terms of the impact on the environment.


Once we achieve to have data associated to digital models, how can we exploit it in order to improve project management processes? Do you think methodologies that are currently applied in project management have to change towards the collaborative environment? 

Unfortunately, no standard has yet been developed for exchange between different Common Data Environments. This means that if an organization has chosen a provider, they are fairly "stuck" to this provider. That does not have to be a bad thing, but it goes against the principles of freedom of choice that we now have with openBIM. In that respect, it resembles the island automation of 2 decades ago. Fortunately, a number of suppliers have decided to develop a standard, related to openBIM standards, to allow different Eco-systems to work together. As you may know, TNO has developed a large part of the open source platform. Now we are again working on groundbreaking technology called BIM bots which, just like, will connect to this new standard. From the point of view of Asset Managers and data administrators, this is a great development of course. Finally, data from different sources can be easily merged. We're not there yet but I see light at the end of the tunnel (and it's not the headlights of the approaching train.


How would you describe the new digital professionals? What skills have to develop “paper” professionals to be able to enter in the digital era? 

It has been said for years that the new digital professionals will (have to) be higher educated than the current generation of professionals. I don't really believe that. "Being digital" has nothing to do with the level of education and happens automatically around us. In the Netherlands, you get a discount on your bank products if you withdraw less than 2 times a year via an ATM, that happens while you're there! The same goes for construction, new design processes (parametric, artificial) are developed but need to be implemented and maintained and adapted to local and/or company-specific working methods. What I think is that we need to get back to basics; new professionals need to understand again how something is being built, how it works and how the interaction between different players in the construction industry takes place. Circularity is a key word here, learn how to deal with the scarce materials of our planet and use BIM (but certainly also other technology) to make the best possible construction work focused on the future.


Download Rob Roef interview (EN)



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