Read more here.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Last week Sanford Rose Associates presented the most recent in their series of “Healthcare Design and Construction” webinars: “The BIM Mandate: Why Hospitals will require BIM for all future projects.”
I encourage anyone interested in the state of implementation of BIM and VDC in our industry to watch the recording of this two hour panel discussion. There is a cost ($139 per their website) but the information shared is worth far more.
The topic I found most interesting was the discussions by Ryan Hullinger from NBBJ about the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio (article here) and their use of offsite fabrication of MEP systems corridor racks as well as patient room devising walls that consisted of a toilet room mod, a casework unit and a pre-fabed headwall unit.
This is one of the few presentations where the participants gave some real quantitative metrics about how BIM effected the project.
Don’t get lost in the “Healthcare” part of the title. This information will be useful to anyone looking to keep up-to-date on what industry thought leaders are doing with BIM and VDC.
You can sign up to purchase the recorded webinar here.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Just being able to import a point cloud directly into Revit would be useful, but this application allows the user to snap walls and openings to construction line crated from the point cloud, create pipes and ducts directly from the points. This tool should greatly reduce the time needed to go from scan to as-built BIM.
Be sure to check out the video below.
Friday, October 8, 2010
I haven’t even cracked the spine, so an in depth review will have to wait. As a matter of fact, with all that I have going on right now I have sent it home with one of my associates for the weekend. I’m sure he will dig deep. :)
Thank you Bokmiller, Titlow, and Whitbread. Click the link below and get it straight from Amazon. In the interest of transparency, I am an Amazon Associate. But I don't care if you but it through this link. Just get your hands on it. Don't be afraid of the Big, Bad, BIM...
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In all the buzz of 4D, 5D and even 6D (whatever the heck that is) I think the power of 3D visualization has been overly discounted.
Personally, I’m not into photorealistic renderings that attempt to show a space exactly as it would be in reality. I appreciate the work and artistry that goes into it. I appreciate the level of detail that goes into that work, but its just not my bag.
(Image found @ http://www.archiform3d.com)
What really gets me going is the ability of a 3D image to get all participants in a conversation to “the same page” almost instantly.
Rather than spend time flipping between floor plans, and sections taken in two directions, we can start with an ISO (Isometric Drawing) of a condition and all agree (for the most part) on what we are looking at. (BTW, I realize the image below is not a true ISO. It’s a perspective image captured from a BIM. Far more useful. :P )
This image is far from realistic. But the information conveyed in that image is amazing. Spatial relationships in both images are one of the first things that jumps out at us. In the lobby image (from www.archiform.com) the sense of grandeur and imposing volume certainly conveys. When I first put the image of a mechanical shaft from one of our recent projects on the the projector screen, the universal reaction was; “Geesh, that is a big duct.”
The use of color to segregate information in the second image is a distinct departure from the rich representation of proposed finishes in the first. Red walls are Fire Rated. Green walls are sound rated. Green exhaust duct. Red Hydronic Supply pipe. Green Hydronic Return pipe.
If a “picture is worth a thousand words,” what is the value of a virtual model that can be viewed from an infinite number of viewpoints, can be color-coded to allow easy digestion of the information, and objects can be turned off or moved out of the way? Priceless. Even before we start to dig deep into rich data that is ensconced in the best of BIMs.
So, don’t discount the power of the lowly third “D'” and don’t be afraid of the BIG, Bad BIM…
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Thanks to Clark Morgan at VirCon for making me aware of the AutoCAD WS app for iPhone and iPad.
I downloaded it tonight to my brand new iPad. (Happy Birthday to me, thanks honey (p.s. don’t tell her that there is a new version to be released sometime around Christmas. Ignorance is Bliss.))
So, the APP is kind of cool, but I think the concept is awesome!
Here is an application for portable devices that lets you take AutoCAD drawings with you wherever you go. No more rolled up plan or “lap set” to get coffee stains (please, keep you mug off my iPad, thank you very much.)
The usefulness remains to be seen. You can zoom right in to the area that you want to review. You can cloud and markup. You can even measure (although I have yet to figure out how to set units. That might be set in the drawing file. Not sure.)
Here’s the kicker. I haven’t investigated this yet, but the App’s documentation claims that I can share a drawing and work on it in tandem with another user. Read that again. A collaborative software that allows multiple users to work in a file and see the work being done by the other users. You had me at “take .dwgs in the field on your tablet.” I’m blown away by the thought of real time collaboration “in the Cloud.”
From there website:
Share drawings with others directly from your device. Use permissions controls to restrict editing and download of the drawing. If other users are also viewing the drawing you can see each other's changes and collaborate in real-time.
If this actually the way the application works, and given the blog chatter about the Revit Server Extension, I think we are in for some interesting times ahead.
Seems like Autodesk is still proving that their not afraid of the Big Bad BIM…
Saturday, September 25, 2010
For those looking, Vico has some interesting opportunities.
Vico Project Engineers are embedded in customer projects as project resources and perform standard Project Engineer tasks, powered by Vico Software tools. Project Engineers typically work on a large construction project for one or two years. After a successful Project Engineer project, PEs can become On-Site Project Managers and coordinate multiple Project Engineers and provide high level consulting to customer companies.
Check out the full description here.
Friday, September 24, 2010
My man on the scene reports that BIM Texas 2010 is well attended by representatives from all sectors of the AECO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Owners) industry.
This year’s theme is “Understanding the Gap: What Owners want v. what Contractors can deliver.”
I have a feeling that good things will come from this event and it will inspire at least a few posts on this blog.
Thank you to Texas A&M and TEXO for sponsoring this event to get Contractors and Owners talking about what BIM means to them.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
While commenting on a post at BIM MANAGER, I started to think about how we reconcile discrepancies in project information. Traditionally the drawings have taken precedent. But which drawing? The design intent drawing or the shop drawing? Plumbing waste plan or the waste isometric? Heck, even plan, section and elevation are known to have information that’s not coordinated in traditionally drafted drawing sets (even in sets produced from a model, but that’s poor use of the tool.) Add to this the additional layers of complexity of Specifications, Cut Sheets, Hardware and Equipment Schedules, etc and you have ample opportunity for discrepancies. Cue RFI. Cue Change Order.
Enter the BIM. Your one stop depository of information about the project. Today, right now, we all have at our disposal the tools necessary to link ALL project information to a BIM. Read that last again. Think about it, Design Intent, Specifications, Construction Sequencing, Client Meeting results (Approvals and Markups,) Fabrication Drawings, As-Builts, O&M manuals, Asset management, Building Controls, etc. etc. ALL IN ONE PLACE.
All of this information can either be derived from the model or linked to it. So there should be NO MORE DISCREPANCIES. Bold statement for sure. But hear me out. If your spec is linked to what’s in the model, it can only reflect the information you need based on design intent. If your drawing sets are extracted from the model, it must reflect what is there.
Discrepancies enter the picture when the deliverable doesn’t reflect the current state of the model. The spec is compiled by hand, the model changes (programs that extract specs from BIM often update “instantly.”) Static, stock details that represent “typical” conditions (they are never typical.) Text that calls out door sizes (practically every BIM authoring solution allows “tagging” of smart objects, so the text changes when the object changes.)
So, given that discrepancies will creep into our project (through poor use of our tools, scheduling pressures, lack of technology, etc) how should we rectify and reconcile them? I attest that the MODEL should have the final word. Why? If the model is constructed from objects that are dimensionally accurate and data rich, you have the actual building (just before it exists in reality) to guide your decision making.
When a condition isn’t clear in the “printed” documents, go look at it in the model. View it from infinite angles, I guarantee you will have a more clear understanding of the condition than you can receive from ANY number of 2D drawings.
If information is missing from the plan set (and the model) MODEL IT!! Take the time to model the condition. What wouldn’t we give to have the budget for unlimited mock-ups. Well, we don’t have unlimited budget (I don’t anyway) but Virtual Mock-ups offer extreme value. Model any conditions that aren’t clear. Communicate with images or even videos of those conditions. Get the model in the hands of the decision makers. The closer you can get the model to those asking the questions, the better.
Model correctly and use those models to reconcile any discrepancies.
Don’t let discrepancies in your project information make you afraid of the Big Bad BIM.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Read the press release.
The the thing that I find encouraging is that this shows Autodesk’s commitment to using BIM in the field and throughout the Building Lifecycle.
Good luck to Vela Systems as they put this investment to good use making BIM accessible and useful in the field.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
What can a BIM be used for? Think outside of the Box.
A better question is how can I use BIM for <insert use>? I ran across an interesting use yesterday.
How can Emergency Response Services use a BIM? It doesn’t take much thought to think of dozens of ways. Mostly they are related to visualization.
- Cameras placed in the model can simulate planned security cameras and validate the coverage.
- Animated crowd simulations can identify bottlenecks.
- Visual reports on threats/emergencies overlaid on the BIM can help leadership evaluate the location, extent and magnitude of the incident so that they can plan an informed response. A related example would be the interconnectivity of the US Army’s Land Warrior
- Sensor driven data can visually report conditions of the environment in a visual manner that is quicker to conceptualize and easier to understand than just raw data.
When President Obama visited Kalamazoo Michigan, the Secret Service was “blown away” by the information they could extract from Western Michigan University’s BIM. I don’t know what exactly the Secret Service does when they scout a venue for the President, but can you imagine the time saved and the quality of the information available in a BIM compared to either walking the whole venue (time intensive) or typical FM CAD plans (limited amount of information and limited display of spatial relationships)? Of course with a mission as critical as the protection of a dignitary, the Secret Service must still visit and verify the identified trouble spots. Can you imagine the liability if the the BIM was taken for unquestionable fact. But, that said, As-Built should be As-Built.
Anyway, check out this article about how WMU’s “Bronco BIM” project helped the Secret Service prep for a President’s visit and the plans they have for it’s future.
Friday, August 27, 2010
I think the “Why” of BIM is directly related to where it is applied in the building lifecycle.
In the early design stage the owner benefits from 3D visual communication of the designer’s ideas. Being visual creatures, we can conceptualize a condition much easier when presented with a 3D image. Now if you can exam that condition in 3D from all angles easily, well, all the better. This benefits the Owner by creating a common language (visual language) that everyone involved can comment on. Owners and Designers both will know they are “on the same page.”
In the Late design/ Pre-Construction stage visualization helps as well. Again everyone can understand a particular condition better when they can exam a virtual model of that condition. Models can also be investigated semi-automatically for Spatial Coordination issues involving the Building’s Systems (Clash Detection.) The Owner Benefits at this stage in Cost and Schedule. If we can immediately agree what a condition is through the model (whether it is right, wrong, or indifferent) then we can move to the real discussion of Constructability and how it relates to Design intent. We don’t have to spend time sketching and having “deep discussions” (OK Arguing) about what we “think” the condition is. That churn effects schedule. If Contractors have a more clear idea of Design intent due to a well built model, the Owner saves money (and time) with a reduction of RFIs and Change Orders.
At handoff, the Owner benefits when the BIM contains data such as O&M, Specs, and Warranties. When that happens we eliminate the “boxes and boxes” of handoff docs and provide a model that can serve as a repository for all of that information.
The model can then serve as a start for a FM database. Currently that information is usually exported to a “traditional” FM database, but there are solutions to allow that information live on in the visual environment of the BIM. As we develop more and better solutions that allow Owners and Operators to access data in a rich visual environment, then Owner’s will see dramatic returns in efficiencies and quality.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
For a while now, I have restrained from commenting on BIM content (for the Revit platform or otherwise) from Product Manufacturers/Suppliers, also called PIM (Product Information Models (or Modeling.)) Mostly this is due to some negative experiences I have had with Product Suppliers/Manufacturers content as well as the fact that I have noticed a general trend of improvement in that same content. I feel I need throw a few opinions out there and see what folks think.
The cry from the industry for “content” from Autodesk and Manufacturers makes sense from an end-user standpoint, and I “get” it. They need the tools to complete their tasks. I don’t know what release of AutoCAD was the first to have Blocks (AutoCAD “content”) but I’m sure that the first few didn’t do everything for everybody. As AutoCAD has matured and manufacturers have provided shop-drawing quality .dwg details and blocks (including the high-tech dynamic blocks) users have gotten used to (spoiled?) and expect it for their BIM modeling applications as well.
I have felt until very recently that expecting Autodesk or Manufacturers to create content to be used in my office is “beyond the pale.” Every piece of content used in our office goes through testing and a standardization process. I can’t think of any content we have gotten from an outside source that didn’t need modification. Sometimes we modify for graphic standards or material standards or annotation standards or some higher desired functionality. Like I said, until recently, I didn’t think having someone outside the office making content for OUR use was an acceptable answer (more on why I changed my mind in part 2.)
A problem I see with this is the amount of information contained in PIM, and Who and How that information is used and maintained (more on that as well in part 2.) When a manufacturer or supplier creates a 3D model of their product, it is often pushed directly to their CAD/CAM manufacturing machines and the dimensional information can be overwhelming. While this information is necessary for the CAM workflow, it usually doesn’t translate well to a BIM environment. One reason is file size.
I have seen early attempts at PIM with light fixture families that were over 3MB, which is about 6 times the size of most of the Revit families approved for use in our office.
Luckily, Autodesk has provided end users and product modelers with guidelines on how to optimize their families for best performance. PIM has problems with file size and other performance robbing issues far less often than two years ago. Autodesk’s guidelines for having content included on SEEK has made a step towards standardizing what Revit Families should be (whether you agree or not.) Note: that’s Revit families not BIM content (sometimes folks forget there’s a difference.)
Another problem I often see is in content designed for MEP use. Revit MEP uses “connectors” to propagate information from one part of a “system” in the model to another. Unlike some other “best practices” for family creation, the configuration of these connectors is imperative to getting a Revit MEP model to function as expected. I rarely see MEP content where these connectors are configured correctly. (A notable exception is content from Greenheck. Almost all of the connections on content we received were correctly configured.)
Just because a modeler (or content creation service) can create 3D models that look good and maybe even have some snappy, Neat-o functionality, doesn’t mean they have either the Engineering or Revit knowledge and experience to create families that work for MEP use. And you do need both. If you don’t have a basic understanding of how the system your working with is engineered and works in reality, you won’t be able to design content that works for the Engineers using it. If you don’t understand Revit MEP, you will make assumptions about how the system works in reality and try to make that happen in Revit. And that may or may not work.
In short, I used to think that there was no way that Manufacturers would ever be able to supply useful content for my uses. I now feel like I was way off base. My hope is that Product Suppliers/Manufacturers will continue to poll end users, and BIM managers as well as Application providers (thanks Autodesk) about the BIM content they configure. I think that they are an essential part of “True BIM” and it’s use in a Building’s lifecycle.
In the next part of this series I will talk about why I reversed my opinion on the subject and ideas I have for capturing and managing information in PIM.
Oh, BTW, I hate loooong, text-only blog posts, but you wouldn’t know that by this one.
Your company didn’t have to switch gears? You have a long corporate culture of innovation and imagination…
You were already experts at 3D visualization? You whole customer base expects you to communicate your fantastic ideas using believable images.
Your company owned and operated millions of square feet of some of the most complicated facilities in the world? Some of your facilities contain systems that convey live cargo (Human cargo) at speeds above 58 fps with 0.50” tolerances between conveyance and structural steel members… (Wow! Guess who?)
How would BIM and IPD benefit you?
Go have a look at how Disney uses BIM (and has been using it for a while) presented at the NASA Info Tech Summit.
Move the slider at the bottom of the video to 50:00 time stamp for the beginning of Jack Blitch’s presentation or slide it over to 1:06 for the start of his discussion about BIM enabled-IPD.
Thanks to Jim Foster at BIM, the Built Environment and Stuff for bringing this to light. (Turn about is fair play.)
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Here’s one to contemplate: How do we construct models that allow us to leverage the efforts of those that have used the model before us and increase the information in the model without losing information and keeping the model lean enough to function effectively?
Just because we are using a BIM authoring tool, doesn’t mean that we have removed all of the disconnected silos of information in the project delivery process. When a designer is in the early design stages they must be able to investigate space requirements and form fluidly. At some point they need to turn focus to constructability. That constructability must then be refined and documented. Then the project must be sequenced for construction with resources and tasks added to assemblies. Finally, the model should be prepped for handoff to the Owner (with linked O & M info, etc., etc.) At each of those steps we have the choice to follow the traditional handoff process that produces silos of information, or think (and maybe work) a little harder to craft a way to prevent handoff and tear down the silos.
Rarely will a resource tasked with creating CDs be able to use the same objects (such as walls) that were used at the SD and DD stages of the project. Similarly, it is uncommon for a GC to take a designer’s model and be able to use it to investigate constructability or arrange the information so it may be used for sequencing. Often the previous work is used as a template to create a whole new model in a separate file. Not so far from the silos of the “past.”
One of the AIA’s tools for IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) suggests that we add detail to the model as we go, using their Model Progression Spec (which you can download here.)
The MPS (Model Progression Spec (I swear, it really is always a TLA (Three Letter Acronym)) is a great document and provides a lot of guidance on what should be in a model.
However, it lacks a definitive when. When an object should be “upgraded” to the next LOD (Level of Detail (told you, TLA.) I think the when almost needs to be decided on a project by project basis, but working backwards from a complete model and indentifying who needs the highest LOD (at this stage of the project) and the latest they can possibly receive it, will help you set deadlines. If you then work forward through those deadlines and find the earliest possible time you can make the decisions required to up that level of detail, you will be well on the way to having a workable Virtual Building modeling schedule. I know that’s just Critical Path Management (CPM (there’s another one) but you’d be amazed how everyone seems to throw out everything they have learned about delivering a project when “push come to shove” while learning a new tool/process. So let’s get back to some basics.
Vico Software also has some suggestions and examples of how to use the MPS (as well as something they call a content plan) when building a model. It’s worth looking into.
Anyway, my inspiration to write this post is to offer some suggestions about how you might add detail to your model without having to rework effort that has gone before. Since this has gotten kind of long, I’ll leave that for next time.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
As we start getting deep into our first project that is taking advantage of using a BIM for Subcontractor level Spatial Coordination (also called Clash detection and Trade Coordination) I thought I would post a series on what we are learning.
If lack of knowledge and inexperience combine to form mistakes, then repetition (to gain experience) plus the ability to learn from your mistakes (knowledge) combine to form wisdom (the ability to avoid mistakes similar to those you’ve made in the past.) The problem is, that it takes some of use longer to gain experience than others. And, some of us (even when we gain knowledge) can’t make the jump to wisdom to avoid those darn mistakes. Whew, thank goodness for repetition. :)
- You are only as strong as your weakest link.
- While I think we all know this at heart, make sure that the weakest link is strong enough to perform at an acceptable level or everyone involved will be disappointed.
- BIM does not guarantee a reduction of duration for any particular project phase nor the whole project (even though that is one of the goals of using BIM.)
- If you don’t have the ability to sequence your work and estimate effort and duration for your scope of modeling, you can “chase your tail” for a VERY long time. (BTW, most field staff already have this essential skill. Make sure they understand that your BIM effort relies on their skill as much as your construction/installation effort does. It’s literally virtual BUILDING!)
- No one truly cares about BIM Coordination… until they find an issue that costs real dollars or causes quality to suffer. You can’t cajole, intimidate, or fool people into respecting what 3D spatial coordination can do until they are involved in it themselves.
- Just because an object is “out of the scope of modeling",” doesn’t mean it won’t cause issues during construction. (Put simply: What you don’t model will be what causes issues during construction.)
- Evaluate what you do and don’t model very carefully.
- While some object’s size and installation method or sequence make them easy to reconfigure in the field, it still takes time and thought to plan and perform that reconfiguration.
Finally, for your viewing pleasure, a collection of “clashes” from a recent project.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
As Builts… Existing Conditions… Field Verify… All of these require at best a Professional Surveyor (at best, unless it comes out of your pocket) at worst a couple of schmucks with a Tape Measure. Hey, I’ve been on both the "smart" and “dumb” ends of that tape and the whole process can be a frustrating, error filled, slog to get as much information as possible.
Wouldn’t it be an awesome fairytale land if you would just use a device (like a laser or ultrasonic “tape” measure) to grab measurements from a space and have it start to populate a BIM with that information?
Well, it’s no fairytale. POINTKNOWN emailed me today with an update on the surveying-to-BIM software PKNail. While PKNAil isn’t quite ready for commercial consumption, this video on YouTube is quite promising. Amazing actually. I can hardly fathom the time savings of direct to model measurements. I hope there claims of 300% times savings pans out.
Drop by their website for more information.
Edit: Darn, I should check my Blog feed before I post. Steve at RevitOpED beat me to it. Curses, foiled again! ;)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
In a slight echo (a fun house reflection maybe) of Steve’s post over at Revit Oped I want to offer up a behavior you should be aware of when using the new functionality of allowing the Properties Dialog to be available at all times.
First, I want to say that I LOVE this functionality. The ability to access a family’s properties with just a click of the object or the properties of a view at any other time is a true time saver.
However, be aware of how this can effect families that have different type-based default values for instance parameters. Ok, read that again. Sometimes a family will have an instance parameter that will have a default value that is used a majority of the time, and there are times when a different type of that family will have a different default value.
But what happens when you start to use these families with the modeless Properties Dialog?
Since the dialog is open when you switch from one type to another, AND… the types share a common parameter, AND… the parameter has a value (the default value of the previous type)… the OPEN DIALOG holds the value that is there. Huh? I think you will understand when you watch the video.
Note that you can override this behavior by placing an instance directly from the Family browser (see video.)
I don’t think that this behavior is a “Bug” or an issue. When you think about it, it behaves as expected. It’s just not what I want. Ah, well, that seems to be often the case with Revit.Properties_and_Instances
Oh, and there is no sound, yet again. You can’t watch So you think you can Dance with your wife and narrate a video at the same time. ;)
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Thanks to Ryan Lent from R. Lent Group for organizing the event and coordinating with Cafe Hollander Tosa to provide a meeting place and an awesome atmosphere for the meeting.
It's great when like minded people can get together and talk freely about common interests.
Oh, and 5th Tuesdays??? Well, the group only meets in months that have 5 Tuesdays. Seems about the right frequency, I'd have to say.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The last few months have been fun filled and action packed… Well, filled and packed anyway.
At the office some scope creep in our implementation has kept our team SUPER busy, but some interesting things have come out of it.
Our original scope of work for this past calendar year was to be able to deliver “documents to support the project delivery process” (i.e. SD, DD, and CD quality documents) and “provide spatial coordination between trades” with a defined scope of modeling.
While this doesn’t sound that ambitious, our Office includes all disciplines imaginable in the built environment(Architecture, Structure, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Interiors, Civil and Site, Advanced Planning, Fabrication (steel and wall panels,) Procurement, Owner and Facility Management , etc etc.) And while not all aspects of our business have been “touched by the BIM” quite yet, our configuration has gone pretty well.
The “extras” that have come about have been pretty varied and interesting. I will talk about these in depth in the upcoming weeks, but they including leveraging our models in the field, sharing models with Subs, quantity take-offs, and delivering 3D intelligent models to code officials.
Bear with me while I get back into the groove of Blogging. I’ve got a lot to share.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Courier feature preview.
Thanks to Steve Stafford at Revit OpEd for posting the first I've seen about this neat little device.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
This technology seems very similar to a commercially available 6 DOF (Degrees Of Freedom) head tracker call TrackIR from Natural Point, a shareware solution called FreeTrack, and Johnny Chung Lee's Wii remote head tracking solution (be sure to check out his whole site, what an amazing young man.) Given that, I wonder what exactly Apple is trying to patent. Never-the-less, it an awesome idea.
I have to say. as the idea of augmented reality hits the ground running, how far can we be from someone taking the technology of motion capture (it's come a loooong way from ping pong balls and hooray for the reduction mof spandex in current solutions)
and creating a fully immersive 3D UI (user interface) that mimics the experience of the new hit movie Avatar. If your in doubt about how close we are, check out Project Natal from xbox... maybe a little overwrought in the advertising (especially when it appears to be solely camera based tracking and doesn't use any sensors (the ping pong balls above, or the modern inertial sensors) but it looks like we are about to enter a whole new world of virtual/augmented reality manipulation.