Despite the widespread adoption of BIM tools among design professionals, the AEC industry is still in many ways at the surface of the true benefits BIM platforms can offer.
“BIM should not be seen as just a way to do a beautiful 3D image from the project, but as a tool for true collaboration that should be the industry standard,” commented Jonathan Riondet, AEC industry solution technical director for Dassault Systèmes, during a recent presentation at BIM World.
Riondet explained that interoperability — across trades and data platforms — is key in realizing the great collaborative power of this data tool.
Riondet pointed to the power of BIM to break down the silos between AEC parties, and the operations team. Integration of information across all parties from the conception of the project through its completion helps contractors, as well as owners, ensure that what they want is what is built.
Collaboration across silos helps with these functions:
To increase productivity, the construction industry benefits from a platform that allows these various parties to manage different level of detail. For instance, the 3DEXPERIENCE solution can move from a concept model to a fabrication level of detail that can be built by a machine or through 3D printing. It’s a capability that Dassault Systèmes picked up from the manufacturing industry, where design and manufacturing components work more fluidly together than in the AEC industry.
Truly collaborative BIM models also help with project phasing, or 4D planning. BIM delivers its highest value when it can improve scheduling, but this demands real-time insight as to where each component is. Riondet notes that the 3DEXPERIENCE solution can go beyond the 4D construction planning, into the final assembly and delivery. In the end, the manager onsite can use his tablet to track pieces ready for installation.
Riondet pointed out that 70% to 80% of the return on investment from BIM will happen during the operation phase, so it is critical to extend BIM solutions to operation phase today.
Achieving BIM Level 3
To get the greatest collaborative value from BIM, Riondet said, all parties need to be working within a platform where the digital mockup reflects changes as they happen.
At BIM Level 2, everyone has a BIM model, but there is no true coordination. By going to the next level, data on architecture, structural, MEP systems, and more can be consolidated into a single view.
Using a platform that presents a single source of truth provides full traceability for all changes and ensures that materials go up quickly, and accurately, in the field.
Of course, it is also valuable to be able to manage access to certain information, so that various subcontractors are able to see design data only within a certain context.
Collaboration Across Data Platforms
Riondet emphasized that the “I” in BIM is very important: Information includes numerous attributes that can be attached to an element within a model.
For a door, for example, this might be the geometry, but could also be information about which way it swings open. All this information needs to be verified for accuracy and, in the past, this posed a problem.
Realistically, not every company is on the same platform, so the 3DEXPERIENCE system puts a priority on communication across a variety of tools. It is able to support a range of data platforms, from STEP to IGES. But interoperability must extend beyond exchanging IFC, Riondet said.
It’s important that no matter what form of data is input, a change in one area is reflected throughout the entire model.
Riondet worked with SHoP Architects on a recent project where they were integrating the structural frame of a model, made with CATIA, with an MEP system added to the platform in a STEP format. Despite the differences in programming, the designers could run a clash analysis, and fix conflicts before assembly began.
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