Interviews

The Next Steps for BIM in the European Building Industry

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The last couple of years have seen governmental Building Information Modelling (BIM) mandates being issued for public sector projects in different parts of Europe, which has helped the whole building industry move forward towards more efficient BIM utilisation all over Europe.

As part of this development, the demand for high-quality BIM objects for Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) design has grown rapidly. This has been experienced especially with online BIM object libraries, such as Progman’s MagiCloud, whose offering of manufacturer-verified BIM objects continues to attract users at an increasing pace. In October this year, MagiCloud reached a new milestone with 150,000 users.

Lindab, one of the leading ventilation device manufacturers in Europe, is one of Progman’s longtime partners in creating BIM content for the building services industry. In the industry, Lindab is also very well known for their BIM-facilitating approach to their products and services, which is why it was a great opportunity for us to discuss BIM adoption in Europe with Lindab’s Head of Project Support Jan Behrens, and hear his thoughts also on the next likely steps for BIM in the building industry.

How would you define the benefits of Building Information Modelling in a nutshell?

“Building Information Modelling (BIM) as a methodology has naturally a lot of different implications for the building industry, but ultimately I think it all comes down to each of the different project parties in a building project being able to access and use all the data they need in each stage of the project without unnecessary overlap and time spent on repetitious work. This of course requires efficient data transfer between the project partners in a format which each of them can access and use from stage to stage”, comments Jan Behrens from Lindab.

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“I believe the next major step in the industry will be managing product orders and materials in building projects in a properly time-optimised manner, as and when each product is needed on site. For example, Air Handling Units, ducts and fittings or air and water devices are required on site at different times or compiled in project relevant packages, which means that different types of products could be delivered as and when they are needed. The possibilities this opens up for materials management and project savings are thrilling and actually already quite close at hand. To properly facilitate this process from the project’s beginning to the end, what is required is that the BIM objects contain not only accurate functional data but also data related to product ordering and for example delivery times”, Jan continues.

In what way do you as a manufacturer currently facilitate this process?

“As a manufacturer, we want to be part of this development and facilitate the BIM workflow the best we can. In some ways, the BIM object has already become an integral part of the actual product itself, and this development is only likely to be emphasised in the years to come”, Jan states.

“Lindab’s BIM objects are created in cooperation with Progman and then made available to the designers through MagiCloud. The online BIM library MagiCloud helps us reach a wide audience of ventilation designers around the world at the correct moment when they are selecting suitable products for their projects, whether they are using Revit, AutoCAD, or MagiCAD for Revit and AutoCAD. This is why MagiCloud is our platform of choice”, explains Jan.

 “However, in addition to product modelling and distributing the models, what is critical for our BIM offering is our own Product Information Management (PIM) processes. Product Information Management has been a major focus area for Lindab for a long time, and over the years we have developed our own ecosystem of IT solutions for managing Lindab products with the related product data and technical documentation”, Jan adds.

“These include the Lindab Quick Selection Tool lindQST for selecting products and the CADvent toolkit for ventilation design on AutoCAD technology. Progman’s MagiCloud and MagiCAD for Revit and AutoCAD integrate seamlessly with our own IT solutions and our PIM concept, which enables us to ensure that the same accurate data is available to our customers in an integrated manner across various platforms”, says Jan.

In what ways does the online BIM library MagiCloud support your business operations?

“With MagiCloud’s Analytics features, we are able to follow the use of our products on MagiCloud. This provides us with valuable data that can be used for the benefit of our marketing, sales and other activities. We can follow country-specific data on how often our products are being viewed and downloaded, and whether the downloaders use AutoCAD or Revit design technology. The users of MagiCloud can also request specific products to be modelled, which enables a new kind of interaction with our potential customers”, Jan explains.

In conclusion, how would you describe the role of Revit in the industry at the moment?

“The shift to Revit is progressing rapidly now also in building services design. This is an important step, as the Revit platform makes it possible to realise some of the important BIM benefits in project management and data integration between project parties, reaching also towards the lifecycle management and maintenance aspects of BIM “, says Jan.

“However, at the same time, it is also worth remembering that BIM as a methodology is not a new thing, and that it has been around for quite a long time before Autodesk Revit. For example, our CADvent solution and Progman’s MagiCAD enabled designers to work with 3D models which contained functional data for calculations on AutoCAD technology already in 1998”, Jan concludes.  

Born in 1971 in Rotenburg an der Wümme, North Germany, Jan Behrens holds a Dipl.-Ing. (FH) in Industrial and Utility Engineering, and in Environmental Protection Technology and Legislation. Jan has worked in the HVAC business already from the age of 16, first in apprenticeship during technical high school and then as an HVAC consultant parallel with his studies at the Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences. After his graduation in 1998, Jan joined Lindab GmbH, working in different technical sales and management roles until moving to Lindab Ventilation Group in 2010. Currently he manages Lindab’s Project and Support Center, a project-oriented engineering department located in Grevie, South Sweden.

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