How can BIM be improved to increase its use?

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August 18, 2015

When Dubai Municipality became the first public authority in the Middle East to mandate the use of BIM for most large-scale projects in the Emirate, it was largely welcomed by consultants.

The question now is how can BIM be improved to further aid the construction process and promote collaboration between all project partners.

P.S. Dutta, head of engineering excellence centre at ETA Engineering, said there is still a long way to go in increasing the usage of BIM. He said it is critical to give training to engineers and architects before the start of the project.

 “We provide engineers and designers with training on all BIM reviewing software and tools, compliance on BIM documentation and model data management,” he said. “To drafters and modellers we train them on Autodesk Revit modelling for structure, architecture and MEP.

“ETA has developed an Engineering Excellence Centre (EEC) that operates out of the UAE but serves our clients in the UAE as well as other GCC countries. Depending on the project size and client requirement, EEC deploys a BIM Drafting Team and Engineers.”

Gerry McFadden, BIM manager at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, said it has global ‘enterprise’ agreements with software providers Autodesk and Bentley. It uses Revit and Navisworks for buildings projects and a combination of Civil 3D and Bentley platforms for its infrastructure projects.

“It is important to remember that BIM is not only about buildings. In WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff we use BIM to better understand and collaborate on projects from the earliest stages,” he said. “As BIM is a process and not only involves software, we strive to map out the best way to achieve a high quality and coordinated design for our clients.”

McFadden said that the industry has a duty to educate more people on what BIM actually means and what it requires to be successful.

“We are also seeing an improvement in BIM software but more work is required by vendors to improve the bi-directional links between design analysis software and software such as Revit,” he added.

“WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is fortunate as we have many training options available. We are an Autodesk Authorises Training Centre and have high quality online and on-demand training available for our staff 24/7. Our global reach also means we have experts both locally and globally who can advise on any technical issues.”

Muhammad Shafiq, BIM manager at Imarati Engineering and Consultants, said it is not limited to using one software or a specific BIM vendor.

 “We are managing BIM implementation on a project portfolio of AED1.5bn ($408m), enforcing client leadership to ensure the benefits of BIM for the client in terms of reducing cost, improving design, reducing waste, streamlining construction, innovative model based project management and improved facility management opportunities for the client,” he said.


“For example, we manage to save AED10m ($2.7m) on a project just in the design stage, through efficient design collaboration and value engineering using BIM.

He said it was working on its own training programme for BIM managers which has nine units covering all aspects of BIM and supported with a professional practical project.

“Some of our staff are in the process of getting RICS BIM Manager Certificate, which is the most recognisable BIM certification available at this point in the UK and elsewhere.”

He added: “We are not yet into design and build projects but we are looking into the opportunities for this, as it offers better support to implement BIM and maximises its benefits for clients.”

Grant Hood, owner of UK-based The Cad Room, an outsource cad service for consulting engineers and mechanical and electrical contractors for the building services industry, said it is currently using Revit MEP, Navisworks and FABMEP.

Hood said the major impact of BIM on its delivery is the level of detail now required and also the lack of people who understand the requirements to achieve BIM success.

“Less jargon and simplified explanations of what BIM actually is will help to improve BIM,” he said. “Currently we have five BIM engineers who have worked their way through the ranks. Our philosophy is to train enthusiastic AutoCAD operators to help them take their careers to the next level.”

 Peter Donnachie, BIM manager at KEO Consultants, said it uses Autodesk Revit, Civil 3D, Infraworks, Navisworks, BIM 360 Glue, iConstruct, eSpecs, Solibri, Sefaira, various customised apps used for environmental, engineering analysis, cost estimating and timelines.

“There are two areas, mainly in the technology, where BIM can be improved. The first is where software developers need to work harder at improving the transfer of information between platforms,” said Donnachie. “The second area is capitalising on data from past projects to create Smart Tools utilising Predictive Analysis and Designing by Algorithm apps.”

KEO employs some 106 BIM-qualified engineers covering planning, infrastructure, design, structure, MEP, sustainability, costing, project and construction management disciplines.

“Due to the ever evolving nature of BIM, KEO provides continuous training for all levels of staff working on BIM projects,” said Donnachie. “Training covers not only usage and application of software but also management, processes, data exchange workflows, collaboration techniques and interaction between different disciplines.”

Ralph Schoch, construction piping services project coordinator with Vitaulic, a producer of grooved mechanical couplings and pope-joining systems, said it uses Revit to create complex pipe routing systems for clients.

“Our Victaulic Tools for Revit add-ins allow us to improve user efficiency throughout the routing and bill-of-material process,” said Schoch. “Once the routing is complete we can then help create fabrication assembly documents of the piping system. We also provide BIM services for estimation and model creation.”

He added: “With the combination of Victaulic’s switch to Revit and our customised tools we have seen in-house productivity of up to 20% over Autodesk Fabrication CAD MEP software deliverables.”

Meet the software supplier – Autodesk

What is the relevance of your product to the MEP industry?

The rapid adoption being experienced in the region reflects a paradigm shift for the AutoCAD led construction industry, which reflects how design technology can optimise project costs, enhance sustainability and energy efficiency of buildings and also guarantee higher ROI for owners and operators. Using BIM for these new and ongoing set of projects gives users the advantage and benefit of being able to completely explore the project’s physical and functional characteristics digitally before it is built – thereby assuring timely delivery and huge cost savings.

 How does your product promote sustainable MEP design and construction?

Autodesk offers sustainability options that provide essential tools for green building design, manufacturing, energy modelling and sustainable infrastructure projects. The region is at the forefront of developing Smart City Solutions – meeting the rising demand for energy and resources from a large and growing urban population. The Middle East’s transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy is deemed to help fuel the concept of smart cities. Cities in the region face unique challenges in water and energy, security, transportation and mobility, sustainable development and citizen engagement, with governments now looking to find new ways to manage these complexities with the increased pressures of urbanisation.

What BIM software upgrades/new products have you recently released or are looking to release?

We have recently released BIM 360 construction management software, which enables almost anytime, anywhere access to project data throughout the building construction lifecycle. BIM 360 empowers those in the field to better anticipate and act, and those in the back office to optimize and manage all aspects of construction performance.

Also, BIM 360 Glue is a cloud-based BIM management and collaboration product that connects your entire project team and streamlines BIM project workflows from pre-construction through construction execution. With virtually anywhere, anytime access to the most recent project models and data throughout the project lifecycle, BIM 360 Glue helps you review projects and resolve coordination issues faster, while advancing the construction layout process.

In addition, we have also released BIM 360 Field, a field management software for 2D and 3D environments that combines mobile technologies at the construction site with cloud-based collaboration and reporting. BIM 360 Field puts critical information into the hands of those in the field, helping to improve quality, safety and commissioning for construction and capital projects of all types.

Lastly, BIM 360 Plan Web Service for Vertical Construction Contractor is a new solution that helps support lean construction practices. BIM 360 Plan cloud and mobile software helps build more reliable project work plans and reduces waste associated with overproduction, excess inventory and task rework.

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