Digital processes and Building Information Modelling are a pivotal part of Hong Kong’s strategy to develop a sustainable construction industry.

The unveiling last year of the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge was the latest impressive demonstration of Hong Kong’s infrastructure boom. The bridge, connecting the city and its 7m people with the mainland city of Zhuhai, was nine years in construction and 55km long.

Other recent mega-projects in the territory include the South Island Line – the MTR, fully-automatic HK $16.9 billion endeavour. Work is also underway on a third runway at Chek Lap Kok airport. One of the world’s largest and most advanced airports, it will handle 80 million passengers per year by 2040.

As the boom continues apace (construction investment is set to total HK$2.5-HK $3 trillion over the next decade) so too do efforts by the Special Administrative Region (SAR) to manage and develop its construction and infrastructure sectors in a sustainable way and in a manner conducive to long-term success.

Centrral to these efforts to promote cohesive construction – and to meet the challenges around capabilities, quality, safety and efficiency posed by development on this scale – is the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council (HKCIC).

Formed in 2007 and representing individuals and organisations from across the AEC sector, its mission is to “strive for (the) unity and excellence of the construction industry of Hong Kong.”

Its functions include the promotion of the ongoing “development and improvement” of the industry, advancing the skills of the workforce and promoting good practices in areas including occupational health and safety, environmental protection and procurement.

2019: Hong Kong Year of BIM

A key focus for the council has also been in unlocking the benefits of the adoption of digitalised construction techniques and processes through the wide-scale implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM). This centres on the use of advanced computer systems to build 3D models and hold large amounts of information about an asset’s design, operation and current condition.

In 2017, the Government of Hong Kong mandated that BIM must be used in the design and construction of all capital works projects with a budget of HK $30 million or above.

It announced its commitment to the promotion and adoption of BIM “with a view to enhancing the design, construction, project management….and improving the overall productivity of the construction industry.”

Time to change

The importance of embracing digital, data-centred ways of working in enabling the territory to meet some of the challenges it faces was laid out last year in a milestone new paper from the Hong Kong Development Bureau – Construction 2.0: Time to Change.

 The paper provides a compelling overview of the challenges faced by the sector and identified the ways in which these could best be tackled.

The biggest challenge facing Hong Kong construction, it says, is the sheer volume of predicted activity and ensuring the capabilities and resources are in place to deliver it.

It cites the challenges of an “ageing construction workforce, a tendency to lag in innovation and in the adoption of advanced technologies …. as well as being labelled one of the most expensive construction markets in the world.”

The paper explains the Government’s vision for tackling these challenges, centred on three key ‘pillars’ as follows:

Innovation: The development of a culture that “embraces change, innovation and new technologies to drive forward productivity, efficiency and enhanced project delivery.”

Professionalisation: This pillar centres on “step change…in project leadership, project management, procurement capabilities and professional skills and practices.”

Revitalisation: Promoting the industry as attractive to a new generation of workers.

PCSG – Supporting Hong Kong’s BIM mission

PCSG is playing a pivotal role in supporting Hong Kong to meet its ambitious objectives.

Our work is being led by our chairman, Dr Mark Bew – a recognised authority in the field of BIM and digital technology systems, whose strategic advice is sought by businesses and governments around the globe.

Food and fact-finding

Earlier this month, PCSG was delighted to meet in London with a trade delegation from the Hong Kong CIC.

Our meeting followed the Hong Kong Digital Infrastructure and Construction Summit in April – jointly hosted by the British Standards Institution (BSI), the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong and PCSG.

Over dinner in London we continued the conversation around BIM and its application. We sought to share useful insights into how the UK has approached the adoption across the life-cycle of a data-centred, collaborative approach to unlock significantly positive social and economic outcomes, reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Mark Bew is now preparing for another visit to Hong Kong in July.

Our commitment to strengthening ties with the sector in Hong Kong has also been marked by our opening of a branch office.

Mark and PCSG are greatly looking forward to deepening the relationship between construction in the UK and Hong Kong, learning from each other and together, enabling Hong Kong construction to achieve its vision of a ‘digitally built’, sustainable future.

For more information on our work supporting Hong Kong organisations to drive forward the use of BIM and data management, please contact Ian.Blackman@pcsg.co.uk