Beyond 3D with BIM

Design technology has moved from hand drawing, to CAD, to building information modelling (BIM) in less than 25 years. As the built industry gets ready for the advent of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) the responsibility now lies at the door of the design professional to utilise the technological tools being made available, to meld best practice and best business into tangible value for the bottom line

BIM technology defined as Revit within the Autodesk standard has been expanded into four major powerhouse programmes: Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, Revit MEP (mechanical-electrical-plumbing) and Civil 3D. As such, BIM is not merely a piece of software, it’s a combination of software, technology, people, processes and workflow. Instead of the current sequential and linear workflow of architects to engineers to bidders to contractor to subcontractors, BIMs strategic advantage lies in its database which allows numerous people to share the information incorporated in the 3D graphical representation of the model – in a way that changes can be seen almost immediately by everyone on the design team and outside consultants.

The term BIM, which is often used interchangeably with Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), is the process of creating and managing a dynamic, three-dimensional, computer-generated model for the design, construction and operation of a building or project. The building is ‘virtually constructed’ in 3D with material information and sometimes even cost of material built in. Because the design is based on a single virtual model, changes made in one view of the model instantly revise and update in every view. With the data-centric process of BIM, the architect is able to dynamically coordinate project information from design through construction and operations into one set of intelligent 3-D documents,

The virtual model details the physical and functional characteristics of the building, such as the structure’s geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information and the quantities and properties of components. All of those characteristics can be analysed, manipulated and corrected digitally before being used to facilitate the construction, fabrication, procurement and other activities necessary to convert the virtual model into the real thing.

Large companies have already realised that the BIM methodology offers the intelligent solution for the integration of the many disciplines involved in the building design process. As such Revit is a process, not a tool. Says David Fryer, MD of Cadplan Jhb: “BIM allows architects to create buildings in the same way they think about them. BIM puts the power back in the hands of the architect – he literally becomes the master of information for the entire project.”

BIM offers many valuable advantages – conflict detection, visualizsation of the project and cost estimating are just a few – but the true focus of BIM is communication management, and it is this potential for the entire Built industry that has powered the dynamic shift from CAD to BIM. Long have architects needed to communicate their design to the client, the engineer, the project manager, the HVAC professional, the builder, the owner, the municipality, the contractors. With the advent of BIM, no longer are they limited to the old, static, one dimensional views of plans, elevations, and sections. Now architects, project teams and their clients have the power to work with a single, coordinated model to collaborate and share data more seamlessly. It’s about communicating in a new way to the entire project team and work force.

Beyond BIMs 3D benefits of accuracy, consistency, integration, coordination and synchronisation is the fourth dimension – time – one of the most sought-after resources in the life of an architect. And the fifth dimension, that of saving costs. Gone are the days when an architect can simply sketch on a piece of paper and say, “Here, go work it out.” The process requires answers, such as how much it is going to cost, and the schedule within which it needs to be built, as well as the means and methods within the design phase… BIM technology can help him do that.

Says CEO of Cadplan Jhb, Marek Brandstatter: “The true potential of BIM is still to be fully realised, but things move extremely quickly in the technology sector and architects are far more proficient now than they were two years ago. In the next five years we will see a full transformation to BIM.”

From the industry

Leading Architecture & Design received feedback from Eugene Barnard, a practicing architect working in the CAD industry, HP, supplier to the industry and Autodesk:

Q In your opinion, is CAD used by South African architects to its full potential?
Eugene Barnard, Cadline:
We do not believe that half of the CAD users use the software they have to its full capacity.

Douglas Downing, HP: In my professional opinion I think the adoption of properly spec’d machines has been a slow one, not only locally but globally. Many architectural organisations underestimate the benefit of a professionally designed system, often forgetting that the tools they use define the success of their work and project outputs.

Architectural design in based on innovation, precise details, cutting edge design and immaculate precision – the tools which are to create the masterpieces of the next century should provide the skilled staff with the necessary tools to get the job done without hassle. Engineering and design professionals require high-performance systems to support their complex 2D and 3D applications. Engineers and designers should be aware of the market offerings that offer more power, stability and dependability.

Errol Ashwell, Autodesk: Local firms are dead keen to extract maximum value from their technology. Over recent years at Autodesk we have seen a wave of architects adopt new technology that has enabled them to move beyond conventional CAD. Our customers have been among the fastest adopters in the world of BIM. It allows them to explore a project’s key physical and functional characteristics digitally – before it’s built, enabling them to optimise design processes, for greater value for themselves as well as their clients. Practices are so keen to get the most out of their design investments that some firms are already beginning to explore digital collaboration with other professional consultants that also use the Revit design platform.

Q Are recently qualified architects proficient in their knowledge of CAD programmes and applications?

Cadline: Like everything else, you get some people that are passionate about CAD and others are just using it as a means to an end. One can see this in the work presentation during job interviews

HP: I’m afraid not. Freshly qualified architects are often prone to using legacy software which has been developed and modified through the years. There are full new ranges of software and applications on the market today which are far more advanced and just as suitable to get the job done, quicker and more efficiently.

This brings me back to my first point, professionally equipped workstations and the components of the machine often depict the standard of software which one can use. If your machine is an archaic model the software will not function within full capacity. Engineer and design professionals have to understand the workstation capability before deciding on the appropriate software.

Autodesk: Across the country, educational institutions are committed to ensuring that their students are best equipped for today’s job market. Recognising the role that (BIM) will play in architectural practices in future and the advantage it will give students who are well versed in its use, educational institutions have been quick in implementing it as part of their curricula. University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria are just three educational institutions that are leading the way in the implementation of BIM. The University of Cape Town holds annual external exams in Revit to test the capability of its students. Resources such as Autodesk’s online Student Community, where aspiring architects share and exchange ideas with students from around the world, is another education initiative from Autodesk.

Across the country, educational institutions are committed to ensuring that their students are best equipped for today’s job market. Recognising the role that BIM will play in architectural practices in future and the advantage it will give students who are well versed in its use, educational institutions have been quick in implementing it as part of their curricula. University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria are just three educational institutions that are leading the way in the implementation of BIM. The University of Cape Town holds annual external exams in Revit to test the capability of its students. Autodesk makes educational versions of its software available to students at no charge. They can get more information about this from HYPERLINK “mailto:lisa@educad.co.za” lisa@educad.co.za

Q How do you see CAD evolving over the next decade and influencing the way architects work?
Cadline:
With the BIM systems in progress, CAD will no longer be an option as one will not be able to share drawings with other consultants. So CAD/BIM is the future as more clients require photorealistic presentation.

HP: With workstations driving the evolution, CAD could evolve in great leaps and bounds just as printers have over the years, just as our graphic solutions and capabilities have evolved. With the correct tools, architects and designers could halve their workload by using the correct technology solutions.

An HP workstation running twice as fast as the previous generation results in twice the productivity, hence twice the ability to earn. With technology such as ‘HP DreamColor Monitors’, CAD technology has the ability to illustrate and stimulate the correct colours when designing.

For any profession to move forward, it needs to keep with the technology. This might be an expensive exercise but considering the productivity gain, well worth the personal and financial reward.

Autodesk: Over the past five years, architects have been getting accustomed to the impact of BIM. The next decade, however, will see them collaborating digitally with other professional consultants on common Revit platforms. Inspired by the strong desire of the building industry for more predictable, accurate and responsible outcomes, this new approach is known as integrated project delivery (IPD).

The manufacturing industry has long used concurrent engineering practices coupled with digital product prototypes to control product outcomes. IPD, enabled by BIM, is based on a similar strategy; cross-functional project teams collaborating on a building’s design, construction and lifecycle management for optimised owner outcomes.

Contacts

* Autodesk on 012-664-8115 or HYPERLINK “http://www.autodesk.co.za” www.autodesk.co.za
* Cadline on 012-653-3472 or HYPERLINK “http://www.cadline.co.za” www.cadline.co.za
* Cadplan on 011-804-2425 or www.cadplan.co.za
* HP on 011-785-1050 or www.hp.co.za

CAPTIONS:
CAD1.jpg: DOWN THE SIDE OF PIC Pic courtesy Cadplan
CAD2.jpg: DOWN THE SIDE OF PIC Pic courtesy Cadplan
CAD3.jpg: DOWN THE SIDE OF PIC Pic courtesy Cadplan
CAD4.jpg: DOWN THE SIDE OF PIC Pic courtesy Cadplan
CAD5.jpg: DOWN THE SIDE OF PIC Pic courtesy Cadplan

One Response to Beyond 3D with BIM

  1. Shirley June 26, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    Filnlay! This is just what I was looking for.

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