March 15, 2015 │Craig Sewell
I’ve been on this quest for four years now – what is manufacturer BIM content, and what makes it usable?
The trouble is, everyone wants something different. Let me try explain this further.
The Generic Argument
As I understand the perspective of some architects, before a building becomes such, it is just a design, a concept. One that a contractor may never build.
The argument here is why should a designer spend time researching thousands of products for an initial concept?
Hence the call for basic, generic BIM content which allows them to get the design done.
The Manufacturer Argument
I understand the generic argument but with my manufacturer hat on see another way to progress.
Say the building does go ahead – products throughout still need specifying. I see this as the responsibility of a designer. A designer who has created the model and understands the requirements of the building’s users.
In a perfect world the design stage would include specific products. This information would go on to benefit the entire construction process.
If designers use manufacturer BIM objects, specified products are within the limits of manufacturing capability. The data from these objects could also make for accurate budgeting. (OK, the budgeting idea is perhaps me gazing into the future a little here but why not?).
Using manufacturer content also gives the end user an as-built model with accurate data to manage the building – is this not the ultimate goal?
What can manufacturers do today?
The Generic Vs Manufacturer debate is on-going but I believe there are steps manufacturers can take to better the chances of their BIM content getting used.
Reduce LOD (Level of Detail)
Thousands of products go into our buildings today. One healthcare project I saw had over one million components.
As much as I understand you are proud of your products, your aim should not be to produce an exact digital replica as a BIM object.
Only model visible elements, E.G. for a set of drawers, only model the front face, not the inside of the drawer. Don’t model screws, bolts or your logo – no-one but you cares about this level of detail.
This is not why I make the point though.
Every extra bit of detail you model within your BIM objects will increase file size. So say you model your logo on the product – let’s say this increases file size by 50 KB (not much).
But, what if you have 1,000 of your products in the same building? That’s an extra 50,000 KB (50 MB) of unnecessary data impacting on the performance of the building information model.
If other manufacturers do the same, multiply this by thousands of products and you get the picture. The BIM becomes unmanageable.
So to give your BIM content a fighting chance of getting used, keep the level of detail to a minimum.
Relevant LOI (Level of Information)
While LOD focuses on the visual aspects of your objects, LOI focuses on the data in the background.
Level of information is the most important and useful part of manufacturer BIM objects. This data is what the contractor and facilities management need to construct and maintain the building.
Don’t get carried away though. The aim is still to product lean objects with only relevant data.
So what is ‘relevant’ data?
This is a topic worthy of it’s own area for discussion. With this in mind I have spent several months researching and putting together a new resource:
BUT FIRST, I have one more piece of advice for manufacturers looking at, or already involved in BIM.
Avoid LOL (Level of Laughter)
OK, I know what LOL stands for because laugh out loud is exactly what I have done on viewing some claims of manufacturers who have invested in BIM.
BIM objects don’t give your products super powers.
You still have work to do to present your products and their features in an informative manner. The BIM community are an educated bunch and will sidestep manufacturers with unrealistic claims.
Be honest, don’t oversell your capability.
Think of BIM objects as providing another tool to specifiers, a digital tool, one that could lead to greater cooperation between you and your clients and customers.
- Have you invested in BIM objects? What are your experiences to date?
- Where do you stand on the Generic Vs Manufacturer debate?
- Do you have any advice for manufacturers looking at BIM?