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February 24, 2022
Over the last 20 years, the tools involved in creating a workable building model during preconstruction have shifted from an assortment of multi-colored highlighters, architectural rulers, and a set of paper drawings to BIM software capable of providing a series of precise 3D renderings.
BIM (building information modeling) is a multi-discipline approach in 3D modeling allowing architecture, engineering, and construction teams to draw, collaborate, and extract data. Each team draws their respective discipline and collaborates inside a federated model. Once BIM coordination is complete, each team will have a data rich model from which to build.
Adoption of BIM technology includes benefits ranging from accurate model coordination for the firms, clients, and subs through clash detection, improved and automated document management, and streamlined communication with teams in the field. The technology also helps meet sustainability goals by allowing companies to go paperless.
Most of the BIM software available on the market today uses the Autodesk platform and includes titles like Revit, Navisworks, AutoCAD, and BIM360. Hermanson Co., a mechanical design, construction, and service provider working with clients across Washington, Oregon, and southwestern Idaho, began adopting BIM technology in 2001. Implementing, ongoing training, and exploration of new technologies have led to improved innovation, team collaboration, and cost savings.
Cloud-based technology like BIM360 has supported work-from-home options during COVID and teams have been working with equal, if not improved productivity, while cycling through home-based, then office, then back to home-based workstations. Revit’s cloud platform allows access to shared central files by multiple stakeholders while staying connected to field teams through handheld tablets to review contract drawings, shop prints, 3D models, and submittals.
During the earliest design phase of any project, BIM marries an architect’s vision with an engineer’s calculations to flag any critical constructability issues. In a matter of seconds, a BIM lead can determine design issues related to sizing, spatial coordination, and trade versus trade clash detection before materials are ordered or construction begins.
On-time project delivery is one of the main goals of any BIM process. Projects are driven by construction schedules and technologies that hasten a design team’s progress to produce both schematic and construction drawings, and move a project to the ground-breaking stage sooner. BIM provides an accurate timeline for general contractors to stage jobsites for crane placement, employee parking, and material storage. BIM offers subcontractors an accurate set of plans for material procurement and workforce scheduling.
Throughout a project, construction document management is crucial. Once again, cloud-based platforms allow sharing of submittals, RFIs, shop drawings, and as-builts through secure, credentialed access.
BIM helps avoid costly design changes during construction thus saving money on manpower and resources by offering a granular materials list by floor or building section. This allows for just-in-time jobsite deliveries of sourced and prefabricated components. Having materials arrive onsite as needed helps decrease clutter on the jobsite and avoid accidental damage, theft, and vandalism.
With current supply chain issues and raising cost of goods, having access to an accurate materials list aids in bulk purchasing and avoids costly delays due to last minute change order expenses.
Laser scanning can be incorporated into prefabrication by designers and detailers drawing in a real-world environment. It provides a point cloud that can be integrated into BIM models.
During fabrication, BIM allows the generation of QR codes used for status updates, compliance documentation, and maintenance records, and supports the training of staff involved in building upkeep.
In the field, many time-consuming tasks have been streamlined by building model technology. Once constructable drawings are available, equipment like Total Station Layout (i.e., Trimble) use GIS to pinpoint hanger locations. Using this technology, a field crew can mark up to 1,200 hanger locations in a single day versus the manual method of using tape measures to mark no more than 200 daily.
Whether your company is new to BIM or already looking at the future of augmented reality, keep in mind the following implementation guidelines:
• Ease of use if it is too difficult to use or no training is offered, it likely will not be utilized.
• Legacy data migration pick a system that will allow migration of historical data.
• MultiCAD data pick a system that is compatible with existing tools and systems.
• Prioritize training determine the impact of training on current workflows and adjust accordingly.
• Control and security be mindful of version control, edit history, and who has access.
Implementing technology, prioritizing ongoing training, and exploring new technologies will lead the construction industry to improved innovation, team collaboration, and cost savings.
Matt Cordova’s interest in construction technology began with an AutoCAD class during his sheet metal apprenticeship with Local 66. After spending time working in service, fabrication, and in the field, he transitioned to detailing and has been in his most recent role as director of construction technology since January 2021.