Felix Grau, President
In the era of cloud computing, cost and schedule overruns in a construction project are unacceptable. The benefits of cloud computing, which other industries have been reaping for some time now, are yet to be realised in the construction industry. This is partly due to the challenges construction firms face in revamping their workflows and processes. Project planning, for instance, remains uncoordinated between offices and construction sites and often involves a significant amount of paperwork. Besides, in the cost estimation process, a general contractor invites bids from subcontractors by sending each an Excel sheet that comprises work items, quantities, and more. In return, subcontractors submit their rates through separate Excel sheets that the contractor must compile, compare, and arrive at a decision—making the process tedious and ineffective. This is where Germany-based NOVA Building IT is playing a revolutionary role in enabling the construction industry to take advantage of the cloud to transform their manual processes. The company offers NOVA BIM 5D, the industry’s first software as a service (SaaS) construction management solution that empowers contractors to invite subcontractors to bid simultaneously on a unified web-based platform. NOVA BIM 5D eliminates the need to share documents and enables contractors to create a table of comparison with the click of a button, thus accelerating the processes of tendering and contract awarding. At the same time, owners and contractors can restrict access to their data, permitting the stakeholders to view only the information that concerns them in the construction project. To guarantee clients data security, NOVA Building IT has had a BSI-certified IT test centre conduct rigorous penetration tests on its web application.
"Owners and contractors can directly integrate their 3D model into NOVA BIM 5D to automatically calculate all the material quantities required for cost planning, tendering, and other processes"
“The construction sector has been lagging when it comes to as-a-service offerings. All of the existing solutions around cost estimation are Windows-based and require to be installed on a computer, involving a significant initial investment. Whereas, our clients can utilise NOVA BIM 5D solution online across all operating systems and browsers, and on any device—tablet, smartphone, or personal computer,” says Felix Grau, President of NOVA Building IT. The company’s web-based offering features multiple payment packages starting from 49 Euros a month and supports concurrent users too. Other major benefits of NOVA BIM 5D include daily cloud backup along with the option to save data locally, personal support via telephone and email at no extra cost, and regular software updates. “I believe, with the flexibility and affordability that a web-based application provides, people will hardly buy on-premise software in the near future,” adds Grau.
Effective Collaboration and Instant Cost Estimation
What I firmly believe is that modern technologies must always help users save time. No wonder the ability to instantly and accurately inform clients about costs, schedules, and so forth is one of our salient, important features
Not only the owner but each participant can benefit from NOVA BIM 5D to the extent that their digital work is aptly accessible to and securely shared with the others. The web-based solution purposefully enables automated workflows and digital visibility spanning the overall project. As a result, all the stakeholders involved in a building’s construction get an end-to-end real-time view of project design, cost, and schedule, which helps improve the quality and efficiency of their work.
In the case of project planning and modelling, NOVA BIM 5D expedites the process of estimating project costs and material quantities based on a building’s 3D model. Owners and contractors can directly integrate their 3D model into NOVA BIM 5D to automatically calculate all the material quantities required for cost planning, tendering, and other processes. “The process of deducing measurements, quantities, and costs from a set of drawings has been one of the most tedious, challenging, and error-prone activities for our clients. The ability to access this information in a 3D model, without manually measuring anything, can tremendously boost the efficiency of a construction project,” explains Grau. Furthermore, NOVA BIM 5D’s visual and intuitive nature not only enables owners and contractors to identify, analyse, and record the impact of any proposed change in project costs and scheduling but also recognise risks earlier, and thus make better decisions. Visualisation increases information density, creates more transparency, and boosts BIM’s mobility—making construction projects less complex and more efficient.
Subcontractors and other participants working on a construction project can communicate better and exchange information more effectively using NOVA BIM 5D. The solution’s ability to facilitate location-independent mobile data acquisition with real-time communication and integrated control option is a huge advantage. Project owners and contractors can plan and schedule their work on-site or from any other location with a constant link to the 3D model or digital twin of the building under construction. NOVA BIM 5D provides them with various key performance indicators (KPIs) to help track their project’s progress with respect to the 3D model-based scheduling.
Open BIM and IFC Standards-Based Approach
NOVA BIM 5D relies on the Open BIM and Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standards, allowing 3D models from all CAD systems to be processed effectively.
Open BIM is a huge promise for architects, civil engineers, and project planners as it fosters a consistent BIM process and, in turn, improves cooperation between various planning partners. Also, the individual components of a 3D model can be linked with information that is used to estimate costs, award orders, and carry out the overall construction work. Such a bi-directional connection allows users to locate every component in the 3D model as well as in the cost table (and vice versa) with the click of a button. With interfaces to PDF, Excel, DATANORM, and more along with several platform functions for a web-based and modern co-working service, owners and contractors can edit and share data with project partners quickly and securely.
NOVA Building IT has served a variety of clients, including automobile giants like Volkswagen and BMW, assisting them with the construction of manufacturing plants all over the world by providing a near-perfect estimation of costs and time to completion. NOVA Building IT also helps clients find contractors and subcontractors. In the case of public authorities, the contractors and architects they look to collaborate with demand for precise construction cost details, and NOVA BIM 5D helps these authorities deliver the required information in no time. “What I firmly believe is that modern technologies must always help users save time. No wonder the ability to instantly and accurately inform clients about costs, schedules, and so forth is one of our salient, important features,” states Grau. NOVA Building IT’s clientele also includes Swisscom, the Swiss telecom company that manages all its construction projects using NOVA BIM 5D, along with Siemens Real Estate and US-based Axalta that have moved their construction management to the cloud by employing the web-based solution.
Blockchain and the Road Ahead
“Although we have been successfully serving many major clients, we are still at the beginning of discovering the best ways of incorporating modern technologies in our SaaS offering,” says Grau. NOVA Building IT is now working on integrating blockchain into its software to help clients redefine the way they store and secure data. Since the stakeholders involved in a construction project are no longer restricted to a single region, NOVA Building IT is also keen on better addressing the mobility aspect of its construction management solutions. Furthermore, the company plans to gradually expand into the U.S., Canada, India, the Philippines, and the Middle East. By partnering with NOVA Building IT, owners and contractors can ensure comprehensive management of their construction projects across cost planning, quantity determination, tendering, price comparison, awarding contracts, and every other aspect that contributes to a construction project’s success.