The article is a shortened form of a presentation done by ARCHLine.XP employees Illés Papp and Zoltán Tóth at a BIM-awareness workshop held in Budapest, Hungary, by Leica Geosystems, 16 October, 2017
BIM is without a doubt the buzzword that keeps every stakeholder of the construction industry on their toes. However, most of the positive examples of BIM implementation are larger than life – stadiums, power plants, huge community buildings are shown to illustrate the BIM benefits. What about the small and medium sized projects? Where are the BIM benefits for someone who draws family houses and apartment blocks? This article seeks to highlight what BIM gives us during our day-to-day work, for our computer aided designs.
During our work at ARCHLine.XP – developer of the architectural design software of the same name – we cooperate closely with architects. We quite frequently hear that our clients have a hard time making the decision to start working in BIM. This is, as far as we see, for three reasons:
Firstly, there is still a considerable lack of knowledge. Many are unsure about what BIM actually covers, or offers for small and mid-sized projects. Luckily, there are many excellent initiatives to clear the mist on this one. Secondly, professionals know that starting to work in BIM could mean considerable investment – a BIM software is needed, and so are training sessions, which could update the existing knowledge to the BIM requirements. Thirdly, there is an obvious fear of the unknown. To combat these three hardships, we demonstrate the benefits BIM offers for everyday projects.
The first major benefit is that there is already a vast amount of data available, which we can harness, using BIM. One example is the manufacturer libraries, freely available online. From these depositories – examples include BIMobject, BIMcatalogs, Polantis, etc. - we can download building elements, which not only have the geometry, but the required data, too – fire safety class, exact item identifier, etc. For some BIM software – including our own ARCHLine.XP – there are seamlessly integrated toolbars to push the building objects directly into your designs. This easy access to data-enriched actual building objects allows us to be more accurate, and communicate our designs more clearly. One has to keep in mind, however that these depositories are being built up, so we might not find everything what we are looking for just yet. This just illustrates, that we are talking about a progress, which is happening right now.
Another major benefit BIM offers is better communication with other stakeholders. Remember what a huge deal it was when the exchange of the 2D drawings was standardized? We are, again, standing at the next step, now the exchange of BIM data is pushed to a common platform, which is the IFC (industry foundation classes) format. This file format, which is the de facto data carrier of BIM, that is, geometry + data, is supported by all major BIM software. This means that we do not have to worry about data loss anymore, neither should we give much thought about what software others are using. We will be able to work with them, no matter what, and a great symbiosis of software ecosystems will be realized. As working in BIM allows better cooperation with our peers, we see now that switching to BIM is in fact a strategic decision for SMEs, which could result in a considerable boost of their business.
These two benefits – huge BIM data depositories and seamless cooperation with others – are not limited to large projects either, they deliver value even on a smaller level, as we always have to work with others, regardless of building a skyscraper or condos. One could ask if the value justifies the costs and efforts of transition to BIM, especially if such transition is not yet demanded by the projects at hand. We say that the switch to BIM should not be motivated by our fear or imminent danger of BIM becoming compulsory. Instead, we should get familiar with BIM because even now, even for smaller projects it offers unprecedented benefits – more accurate design and better collaboration. This is something we surely can’t afford to miss.
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