render of a cross-section from a BIM model in Revit, copyright ThorbiQ


LOKEREN – Wholesaler of Building Materials Bouwpunt undertakes a unique initiative to put Digital Construction extensively on the map in Flanders.  Together with ThorbiQ as a technology partner, Bouwpunt has gathered a group of manufacturers of building materials and construction professionals in order to demonstrate, within the framework of a new standardisation, MatBiM, to demonstrate with a ‘proof of concept’ project that a digital connection between the links in the supply chain of building materials is possible.

Christophe Van der Gucht, managing director at Bouwpunt Van der Gucht, explains this initiative in further detail: “Apart from its logistical role, the wholesaler has an important connecting and coordinating role between manufacturers and contractors. In the digital BIM context, we also want to take on this role in order to increase the efficiency of the entire construction process”.

A successful BIM, or Building Information Model, depends heavily on the availability of standardised (product) information, which in current practice is often lacking or not efficiently and effectively set up. A number of pioneers in the field of Digital Construction in Flanders, including  Vandenbussche, Cordeel, Coeck Beton, IKO, Ploegsteert, Recticel, Vandersanden, Derbigum en Foamglas, have joined forces in this project in order to further evolve the digital construction process and guide the construction industry into the future.

Bridging two huge gaps

Wim Tas, Product Manager and CTO at ThorbiQ:  “We want to bridge two enormous gaps, namely the gap between design and construction on one hand and the gap between the manufacturing and construction industry on the other hand. In practice, a contractor usually turns out not to work on the architect’s design model because the methodologies are not standardised and, besides, are not attuned to each other”.

“Another observation is that the manufacturer’s BIM Objects are only rarely used by the contractor and even less by the designer. Again, this has to do with standardisation and the fit-for-purposeness of the objects to the receiving party”.

Cross-border solution

Robert Landsman, IT & Supply Chain Manager at Veris, also has high expectations and highlights the importance of the international character given the relationship between Bouwpunt and Veris, the largest purchasing group in the Benelux: “The collaboration between Belgium and the Netherlands creates unique opportunities; after all, we can immediately plant the seeds to roll out MatBiM as well in the Netherlands in order to offer a cross-border solution. Previously, we shared a strong commitment to ETIM as the industry standard, now we continue to build on this foundation. No party in the chain can do this on its own, which is why we are committed to an open standard to which everyone internationally can connect”.

Open standards

Open standards are, after all, extremely important to make digitalisation in the construction industry a success. By providing a uniform dataset in which different manufacturers of building materials can link their databases, the information exchange that takes place in the various phases of the life cycle of a building will be more efficient and effective.

Frank Vanhove, Managing Director Benelux at Foamglas and chairman of the federation of Belgian Building Materials Manufacturers (BMP), explains: “BIM and FOAMGLAS insulation go hand in hand because boundaries need to be pushed back in the construction process. Initiatives such as these need to be supported by the building material producers and this is why the collaboration with different parties within this ‘proof of concept’-project is as broad as possible.

The project will run for three months after which period, the results will be made public in November. This is a first phase in which a ‘proof of concept’ will be delivered. It is the intention of the initiators to move on to an MVP phase (minimal viable product), of 6 months, in which the project will be extended to the Benelux and to other BIM modeling software.

If you would like to stay informed about the progress and results, follow the hashtag #MatBiM or #PoCBouwpunt on Twitter and LinkedIn!

For more information on this project, please contact Christophe Van der Gucht: +32 475 55 50 34 or Wim Tas: +32 472 53 52 30

Companies: Bouwpunt, Cordeel, Thorbiq, Vandenbussche, Veris

Entrepreneur(s): Christophe Van der Gucht, Wim Tas

Location(s): Lokeren