BIM in off-site manufacturing for building


The construction industry is currently faced by a plethora of challenges that encompass high energy consumption, generation of enormous amounts of waste and significant emission of greenhouse gases. To this regard, many governmental reports have been released, most of which are entirely centered on the need to overcome these challenges. Such reports suggest the adoption of innovations such as, off-site manufacture and emerging Building Information Modelling (BIM). At present, a great deal of research work has focused on the impacts of off-site manufacture and BIM, independently applied on traditional construction techniques. Due to the factory-based nature of off-site manufacture, the benefits that can be ripped from BIM on off-site manufacture have been widely argued to be much greater than those of traditional construction. Unfortunately, evidence about impacts of BIM on off-site manufacture has been very sketchy with far too many publications skewed towards traditional construction.

In a recent research paper published in Journal of Building Engineering, Dr. Henry Abanda and Professor Joseph Tah at Oxford Brookes University in collaboration with Dr Franco Cheung, An Associate Professor at Birmingham City University investigated the implications of BIM systems on off-site manufacture and traditional construction methods, with emphasis on the technological potential of BIM for off-site manufacture. Their study focused on examining how BIM could support off-site manufacture and addressing the benefits of BIM and how BIM can be utilized to overcome barriers hampering the uptake of off-site manufacturing. Moreover, examining published quantitative benefits of BIM on off-site manufacture and traditional construction.

The researchers initiated their study by carrying out a thorough systematic appraisal of the available published literature regarding this matter. They identified qualitative and quantitative benefits of BIM on off-site manufacture, off-site manufacture and BIM on traditional construction. The researchers realized that despite the huge benefits inherent in off-site manufacturing, there are still so many challenges deterring its usage. The lack of knowledge about the clear benefits that can be ripped from adoption of BIM and off-site manufacturing, has been presented as the main inhibitor towards their uptake. Furthermore, the research team noted that most of the studies on the quantitative benefits of BIM were not holistic and seldom considered the whole project life cycle of offsite construction projects.

The study by Abanda, Tah and Cheung successfully presented a systematic appraisal of existing literature regarding the potential of BIM adoptability in off-site manufacture for buildings. It has been seen that the strengths of BIM in containing data in interoperable formats and managing huge projects are great assets in fostering collaborative practices in the construction industry which translates to immense benefits to both traditional and off-site manufacturing of buildings.

BIM in off-site manufacturing for building. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Dr. Henry Abanda PhD, Dipl.-Ing., PGcert (Distinction), BSc (Hons), CEng, MIET, FHEA

Dr. Henry Abanda has a BSc (Hons) and Dipl.-Ing. in Mathematics/Physics and Civil Engineering from the University of Buea and École Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique (ENSP) de Yaoundé, both in Cameroon. After obtaining his degree in Civil Engineering in 2003, Henry worked as a Project Engineer on projects funded by the governments of Cameroon and Japan. Later, Henry obtained his PhD from the Faculty of Technology, Design & Environment at Oxford Brookes University in the UK in 2011. Henry is a Senior Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment, Oxford Brookes University.

His research interests are in the area of Semantic Web, Artificial Intelligence, Building Information Modelling (BIM), and Big Data. He has designed, implemented and delivered BIM related modules on undergraduate and post-graduate courses in the School of the Built Environment. He is currently supervising a number of PhD students working on construction project management, facilities management, BIM, Big Data and the Semantic Web. Henry has delivered BIM lectures at the Universidad de Lleida, Spain, Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Tarbes, Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse, France, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, a top tier institution of learning in India, at the UN-Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador and recently at the Architectural Association of Kenya. Prior to the aforementioned training, Henry was the lead facilitator in training 180 construction professionals through hands-on workshops on the use of BIM for construction project management and quantity surveying as part of the European Regional Development Fund Programme FutureFit Build Assets funded project between 2014 and 2016.

About the author

Joseph H. M. Tah is Professor in Project Management and Head of School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. His research work is inter-disciplinary and focuses at the interface between the built environment and computer science with a focus on developing holistic integrated intelligent decision support systems for managing sustainable high performing built environments.

He has extensive experience in the application of artificial intelligence, distributed computing, and building/city information modelling techniques to the development of integrated systems for modelling, simulation, and management of large-scale projects and extended enterprises in the construction and related industries.  He has published widely in these areas and provided consultancy and advisory services to national and international companies and governments.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) and a member of the Chartered Institute of Building (MCIOB).

About the author

Franco Cheung is an associate professor in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment at Birmingham City University. Coming from the professional background of quantity surveying specialising in cost planning, he developed his research specialism in cost modelling and forecasting techniques, risk analysis, building information modelling and off-site manufacturing. His research studies have been published in leading refereed journals in the field of construction management such as Building and Environment, Automation in Construction and Construction Management and Economics.

He has managed and contributed to a number of research studies including two recently completed projects funded by EPSRC and Innovate UK about the development of low impact building design tools.  He is keen to develop funding proposals with industrial participants to support industrial led research projects.


F.H. Abanda, J.H.M. Tah, F.K.T. Cheung. BIM in off-site manufacturing for building. Journal of Building Engineering volume 14 (2017) pages 89–102.

Go To Journal of Building Engineering


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