Adopting BIM – considerations for the journey.
BIM adoption means many things to many people; some believe that a CAD system such as Revit is the start and end of BIM; some go further and start to define a document management system perhaps supplied by the same vendor as supplied their CAD tool.
BIM adoption is not about choosing CAD tool A to the exclusion of CAD tool B. BIM is about neutrality; it’s about integration, coordination and interoperability for information created, consumed and available to all project stakeholders.
Inevitably choices need to be made; these choices will either narrow or expand the list of tools one has at their disposal; the choices will reverberate through the business for years to come and in seeking to take the right choices one should do so in a dispassionate and purely logical manner.
Can a proprietary document management system be the BIM information hub? The answer may surprisingly be yes.. Here comes the caveat.. If you are able to mandate or reasonably expect the use of CAD tools supplied by a vendor across all the disciplines and supply chain then it could work.
Reality and experience suggests that many different CAD tools are likely to be used for all the right reasons, Tekla for structures because of its generation of structural connections, Cad-duct for its extensive library of predefined components and testing capabilities. The list goes on and on..
So it’s not in our interest to mandate one CAD tool or another so we need to look at alternatives to the proprietary document management system. So what’s out there? We don’t have 100’s to choose from; they come in different shapes and sizes, some expensive some Open Source.
OK, so we now have CAD tools producing information and that information can be stored centrally in an integrated information model.
Everyone wants more for less, Less Carbon, Less Cost, so when we look at the information that is being produced (design), we need to introduce the concept of information needing to be DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) this means that it gets drawn once and eliminates the expense of producing “as built” or “as fitted” drawings let alone experiencing issues at installation. So to assure ourselves that our design is DfMA we need to check or validate it against all the codes and requirements required by client, commissioning etc..
There are two options to achieve DfMA, firstly we would suggest that the originator of non-DfMA design be responsible to its rectification, therefore we push the problem upstream and look at the processes that lead to the failure and alternative resolution options such as pre-built object families coupled with self-checking procedures. Secondly and probably inevitably our design manager will need to review design, this process is time consuming, repetitive and prone to human error however hard one tries.
Often not explicit but worth mentioning is the impact that time consuming validation has on concurrency of design (a subject in its own right). Suffice to say that the tighter (more concurrent) design is the less potential for it to become uncoordinated and create a cost to bring it back to a coordinated state.
So are there other reasons why we should push for DfMA.. Well yes.. BIM is all about reusing information, fulfilling our innate belief that there is a direct and consequential relationship between design, estimation and scheduling.. BIM or IFC as an information model/schema brings these all together. If our design is more Bollywood than Hollywood then the ability for it to flow downstream and be the foundation of the estimation and scheduling process is diminished or even extinguished.
Nearly there!.. So we now understand the value of DfMA.. We need to think about helping that poor design manager by giving him tools that help him evaluate good, bad and indifferent design. Hello to automated design validation.. Remove the monotony, increase the reliability, manage and control, get what you paid for and free up time to focus on the real issues.
Welcome to BIM, we hope you have a nice day!