Building SMART’s International Award for Digital Transformation Heads for Austria

Ernst Forstner
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The project “From Pixel to Pset – The Digital Structural Inspection”, submitted by the Austrian company VCE Vienna Consulting Engineers ZT GmbH, prevailed among a 154-member jury, winning the “buildingSMART International Award”. The award implies major recognition from the international construction industry for successful digital transformation and serves as a convincing testimony to Austria’s innovative strength.

Vienna, 13 October 2021 – The “buildingSMART International Awards” were presented in an online ceremony on 7 October 2021. The Austrian project “From Pixel to Pset – The Digital Structural Inspection” prevailed in the category “Technology Solution” and earned first place following a clear decision by the international 154-member jury.

At the award ceremony, the jury provided the following reasons for their decision:

  • This entry integrates AI and openBIM to automate detailed building inspections using drone footage.
  • An original and imaginative project that demonstrates the very kind of innovations that can be created when openBIM is combined with different technologies, delivering significant benefits to clients while making an important contribution to critical infrastructure.


The project was developed by VCE Vienna Consulting Engineers ZT GmbH in cooperation with the start-up Palfinger Structural Inspection GmbH as part of a project for Autobahn GmbH Südbayern.

Peter O’ Brien, B.Eng.(Honours), MSc.Arch. RAIA MIEAust, was key in masterminding this, demonstrating his wide range of expertise in Building Information Modelling (BIM), software development and data science.

VCE Vienna Consulting Engineers ZT GmbH is an independent, high-tech and internationally oriented engineering firm headquartered in Vienna. To date, more than 6,000 contracts have been successfully completed in 69 countries worldwide. VCE has always been committed to the sustainable development of digitalization in the construction industry and to providing its clients with highly qualified services in all areas of construction.

STRUCINSPECT is the world’s first so-called “Infrastructure Lifecycle Hub” – a knowledge and service platform for digital inspection and lifecycle management of infrastructure and buildings. What sounds complicated is, in fact, a revolutionary approach: an open, collaborative platform for all project stakeholders, from building owners and operators to inspectors, data collectors, engineers and maintenance personnel.

The hub provides tools and services that set standards and support the digital transformation of modern asset management. Digital asset management makes infrastructural objects more economical, safer and more durable – for the good of the economy, but above all for the protection of people, resources and the environment.

The “users” of infrastructure also get to benefit: digitalization eliminates the need for time-consuming and costly closures, especially for objects such as bridges. In Austria, there are more than 5,000 bridges that have to be permanently maintained. Thanks to these kinds of technologies, damages can be detected sooner and maintenance measures can be implemented in a forward-looking and resource-saving manner.

A total of eight awards were presented. Additional winners came from China (2), Hong Kong, New Zealand, Poland, Germany (2) and Switzerland.



Peter O’ Brien (VCE):

“We are very honoured and proud that this technological contribution is receiving international attention thanks to this award. Through this contribution, we can highlight the innovative strength of the Austrian construction industry on an international stage.

This technology contributes to the much-needed digitalization of our infrastructure as a whole. It is part of a wider, major task that only becomes conceivable in the first place as a result of far-reaching automation.

Our development combines computer vision, photogrammetry, artificial intelligence, deep learning, geometric automation, BIM expertise and a deep understanding of the real needs and challenges of the industry. We have thus created a prime example that very clearly showcases the need for the digital transformation of the construction industry while putting the added value clearly on display.”


Wolf-Dietrich Denk (VCE):

“VCE sees itself as an innovation driver, always promoting digitalization efforts and future-oriented ways of working.

We have been using BIM successfully in our company for over ten years now, and were pioneers in this respect, in Austria. In recent years, we have increasingly noticed that we are reaching the limits of classic BIM methodology and are now entering the sphere of “digital engineering”. Here we combine numerous technologies (such as artificial intelligence, robotics, etc.) to increase our productivity.

The project submitted to the buildingSMART International Award 2021 impressively shows how digitalization can be implemented in the construction industry and offers a remarkable combination of the possibilities of automation and thinking that genuinely pushes the boundaries, taking into account the Open BIM method.”


Robert Schedler (VCE):

“I am delighted to accept this award as Managing Director of VCE. In addition to the expertise of our employees at VCE, who developed the core of what this award stands for, achieving excellence today is only possible in cooperation. I would therefore like to thank the client (Autobahndirektion) and our partner STRUCINSPECT, of which VCE is a founding shareholder, for their openness to implementing the future of construction. This award also impressively demonstrates the future potential for digitalization in the construction industry. It is a very gratifying feeling to be an active part of this development.”


Ernst Forstner (Palfinger):

“With future-oriented technologies on our side, we can be a driving force and a pioneer for a community of experts that want to further advance development and knowledge in the field. We are delighted that STRUCINSPECT was able to provide a digital foundation for this extraordinary development achievement in the field of openBIM with the Infrastructure Lifecycle Hub. The joint success at the buildingSMART International Award 2021 confirms the importance of close collaboration between experts and users.”


© Renderings buildingSMART



buildingSMART is an open, independent platform whose aim is to develop digital solutions in all sectors of the built environment, i.e. across the entire value chain and lifecycle.

buildingSMART Austria unites the relevant organizations and partners from the fields of design, construction and operation with a focus on a common goal: to sustainably support the transformation towards digital construction and to maintain and expand national and international competitiveness.

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