BIM Workflows or BIM Woes?

BIM requires discipline to be implemented and the best way to do that is by defining workflows that are followed.

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If you’re an active professional in the AEC industry and haven’t been living under the stone for the past few years, you’ve already heard of BIM. BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and it’s a process slated to revolutionize how construction happens all over the world. But let’s leave all the hype at the door for now. To make BIM implementation successful on projects, it is very essential to get the right processes in place. You also need the right technology to streamline the workflows.

In this article we’ll be looking at some common workflows that happen in almost all projects that ‘require’ BIM. When I say the word ‘require’ what I am referring to is those projects that invariably need to implement BIM because of either of the following reasons:

  • The client needs submissions in BIM format
  • BIM has been mandated on the project by a government authority
  • One of the stakeholders pushes the use and benefits of BIM
  • All stakeholders mutually agree to use BIM models
  • It’s cool and someone on the project heard it’s used everywhere these days

Modern problems require modern solutions. We cannot expect to overcome challenges the same way previous generations did. Technology is our biggest asset and we must use it to the fullest.

Where the woes begin

Getting everyone together on the same page is a big challenge, especially in projects that involve various stakeholders. And most projects do. From a BIM perspective, it becomes challenging to define the scope of work. In BIM, everyone is tasked to create a virtual model of the actual construction. The architects start with the design and create the architectural elements using a tool like ArchiCAD or Vectorworks.  Structural Engineers may use a tool like Tekla Structures to build a structural model. The MEP modelling may be done in Autodesk Revit. The site might be done in Civil 3D. Then, when the contractors come on board, they take these models and detail them further.

These things are usually defined in a BIM Execution Plan at the start of the project. But due to the dynamic nature of projects and ever changing demands of clients, a static document is usually not clear enough. When using planBIM, it becomes simple to assign scope of work using an intuitive UI and powerful tools like the LOD Matrix and Model Progression Matrix. Particular element categories can be assigned to either companies or individuals.

Keeping everything documented

Additionally, everyone wants to use their own favorite apps, and it is difficult to convince people to come onboard a single Common Data Environment. This, along with a static BIM Execution Plan (BEP) creates a lot of inefficiency in the process as information is disparate and not readily available. There are certain technical challenges as well. For e.g. a BEP is supposed to be quite detailed and contains a lot of different sections. It isn’t really practical to be able to create a fully complete BEP at the start of the project as majority of this information naturally evolves as the project progresses.

In planBIM, all these challenges can be easily accomplished. Firstly, you can embed information from various sources like Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs, YouTube and much more. That way, even if people are using different apps, all the data can be consolidated in one place through planBIM. Then, with tools that allow collaborators to publish only specific sections of a doc for general consumption and an advanced revision workflow, working on documents becomes more streamlined.

Making sense of the various files

There is also a challenge for all stakeholders to effectively manage files on a single platform. Some people prefer to use cloud storage tools like Dropox or Google Drive, whereas some use advanced File management solutions. There are also some organizations which prefer good old email. And this is only for file sharing. A lot of the work actually happens on desktops, especially work related to drawings and model production. This leads to thousands of files, folders and complicated folder structures. File versioning is another challenge which

planBIM’s files module tries to cut across these challenges by providing a refreshed visual interface for creating model breakdown structures and managing files in one go. With revision management and the ability to view 50+ BIM formats built in, it is a tool like no other. File sharing has also been reimagined and they can be instantly shared with others.

Getting your library organized

A lot of companies have their own standards and libraries that they typically use on a project. But what happens when the work needs people from multiple offices and site to coordinate together? Things do get out of hand as the resources that are needed aren’t available at the right moment or the right place. Then again, a lot of bloated components are used in BIM Models and it difficult to drill down who did what.

planBIM has solutions for all these problems. The content module features the ability store entire folders worth of resources in the cloud, which can easily be searched and filtered to reach just the right content at the right time. There are also approval workflows built in, and also the ability to track and analyze usage.

Everyone is aware of the potential benefits of BIM and would prefer implementing it on their projects in an ideal way. However, the reality is far from it in most projects, given that firms don’t necessarily possess great tools to help manage BIM processes. By mobilizing relevant but dynamic features, planBIM comes to the aid of projects, teams and companies wanting to scale this mountain filled with challenges that lie ahead.

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