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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Path to 5D BIM

Some of you may think all I do is try to sell Revit, but that's not what I'm about. I love technology, automation, streamlining, efficiency and all things tech. I was telling someone today that I installed LogMeIn on my son's laptop so I wouldn't have to get up to turn it off. My son is 2.

My point is, technology is in my blood. I love BIM, LEED and IPD for how they profoundly change the design and construction process. As advanced as I am in my knowledge of BIM, every time I read a Vico blog post, I feel like I have so much to learn.

If you really want to see where the future is, Vico is on the cutting edge. They're one of my software partners and I'm looking forward to the day when I've sold 1,000 seats of their product. That'll be for my first 1,000 construction clients. With the speed at which BIM is being adopted by contractors, that may not be so far away.

Repost: http://www.vicosoftware.com/blogs-0/the-agenda/tabid/84418/bid/11875/The-Path-to-5D-BIM.aspx

We recently sat down to do a Fridays with Vico webinar about Enterprise BIM. We wanted to help explain how companies develop the systems and methodology to grow BIM throughout their firm.

In this excerpt from the webinar, I show the current construction process, alongside the new path that so many of our customers are utilizing. There is no "easy button" for change management, but the technology is making the transition much faster and smoother...

Whether you are on the 2D workflow or 3D workflow, the first thing you have to do with a new set of data is to find out what has changed. And a lot of design partners are great at documenting that and a lot of them aren't. So either you know you know which one you're dealing with or you'll have to do a little more diligence to determine what has changed about it. (Our solution for collating and comparing construction drawing sets is called Doc Set Manager. This is a cool entry point for BIM because you have the certainty that all design changes have been detected from one version of the drawings to the next.)

After you've determined what has changed, if it's 2D, someone has to create a model. If it's 3D design data somebody has to create what we call a construction model or coordination model and that's where the means and methods of construction come in. I'm not one to fault the design team for not including those as I think it's outside their scope. So, I've always viewed it as if the design team can give you a head start, great, take it but you need a construction model and there are differences.

I've talked to a few authors lately who are writing books on the difference between a 3D design model and 3D construction model. I was delighted to see that. So it's not going to come from a vendor like us and sound biased. It's going to come from outside experts and I think the industry will really benefit from that. The people who have been through this twenty times already know the differences but if you haven't there will be some independent reading available soon.

That's the construction model and what is so interesting about this is that there is really no 2D equivalent. So it's pretty easy to get excited about the fact that this is where all the coordination is happening. And this was the low hanging fruit when BIM found its way into the construction side of this equation for good reason. There is a lot of opportunity to avoid errors, save cost, and deliver a new experience to the owner and construction team.

So whether using onscreen takeoff or some other technology on the 2D side, or using model takeoff techniques on the 3D side, the next step is not a change in the data set but an extraction of data from it called quantities. That's a key thing and I think if you were to map out your business as a computer scientist would and build an information language around your business, quantities is one of the key pivot points of running a project successfully. And having a handle on those quantities as things change and move around over time is therefore really key.

Our Constructor customers in the past and soon to be Vico Office customers go to an extra step. They add what we call location breakdown structure. And that has created a new data set so we've climbed up to a new branch on the information tree that I call a zoned model. I was tempted to call that a 4D model but the 4D word in the industry has been co-opted to mean something different which is a sequenced animation movie and that's not what we mean here.

What this is an eight story commercial project with an east wing and a west wing. So it's subdivided into 16 or 17 zones. There might be zone one as the sight and then the next 16 zones are first floor east wing, first floor west wing etc. If you zone the project like that this is how people are going to schedule it. You're going to schedule formwork for east wing of level four as one task, you don't schedule each column. And those have a big impact then on how many materials need to be delivered to site on what date. So now you have derived location based quantities. I know how much sheetrock is going into the east wing of the fourth floor. I can therefore stage procurement, for example, accordingly. (One of our customers, Klorman Construction, has put together a great demonstration of locations, resources, materials, and productivity rates in Vico Control.)

The next step that our customers go through is getting ready for their cost estimating. On the 2D product line that's linking those quantities to a cost estimating database, on the 3D line we link them to what we call a 5D Library. It has the cost and assembly type of information you're use to in estimating but it has other information that is task duration-specific in nature you'll see what that allows in just a minute. But we're going one jump up the information branch now where if you're a 2D guy you've got enough information to generate a cost estimate. If you're a BIM guy, you've got costs derived from a 3D model.
The next step in 2D is to prepare a schedule. So that's usually an independent and unconnected task. And the next step in the 5D BIM world is to derive a flowline schedule from exactly the same model data and 5D Library parameters.

So this is the 5D BIM line we keep talking about and this is how our customers usually get to it. More often than not, there isn't a 3D model from the design team yet. So somebody is looking at 2D data, determining changes, creating a model that is the construction model and adding locations, deriving quantities, linking it to their 5D library and deriving cost and schedule. It is a highly productive, highly repeatable process.
And what's exciting to me about it is when something changes, you go back to the beginning of this loop and replay it, but you do not have to redefine the location structure. Those location structures are a persistent piece of data in the Vico Constructor and Vico Office databases. You don't have to redefine the 5D Library, it is there and ready to be used on this project and the next one. So you go back and based on those changes modify your model and replay quantities and derive costs and schedule. That's why you can turn this around so quickly. You're using the model data and it just turns out to be a great handle for us. A fantastic filing cabinet in that we've added more space to the second story subgrade parking garage and that's going to flow right into an impact on cost and schedule.

Now it's not as simple as clicking a button (I'm not pretending it is that simple), but it is this automated and it is this path that most of our users are taking. And it is this repeatable in terms of turning answers around in a short time and sitting in front of the owner or design team and showing them the impact that this has on the design.

Which line is your firm on? The Path to 5D BIM is very doable. Let me know your experiences, challenges, and successes getting to Enterprise BIM.
The Path to 5D BIM


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