Maximum Impact: Saving Time and Money with BIM 360
Through the use of advanced technology, project teams are able to save stakeholders time, trouble, and money to maximize project collaboration and impact for stakeholders.
Collaborative software like BIM 360 reduces time spent in meetings and expedites handoffs, while also effectively eliminating rework by storing data and tracking progress from one central portal. This need has become even more evident as the world entered into the global pandemic. Anyone from anywhere can access project data as long as they have an Internet connection. The ability to work remotely is now a critical infrastructure need no matter who you are.
Also, designing with 3D modeling technology allows owners to visualize progress throughout project execution as well as the finished product, speeding decision-making and reducing expensive physical changes in the field because problems can be detected in the model and addressed early. As the technology takes hold, there are an increasing number of examples from which project teams and stakeholders can learn best practices. Following are key advantages and drivers of BIM 360:
Modernizing output: A high-tech company is engaged in the production of elements that feed back into manufacturing. The company has multiple sites and is working on revamping their document management systems as they currently lack a robust system similar to BIM 360. They are primarily operating with 2D designs at the moment and are slowly transitioning to 3D. Thanks to the connectivity of BIM 360, they are able to modernize their output and share it with anyone across the globe, which is revolutionizing the way they work.
Eliminating assembly, packaging, and delivery: Historically, the process has been slow, with documents transferred by e-mail or shared drives. Document managers chase down the content on servers and provide updates to stakeholders. It can take days or weeks for everyone to be informed of changes.
In the cloud, the process is much faster: users check out a file to work on, make their edits, and then save it back to the source, completely eliminating the wait times to assemble, package, and deliver. Documents in a variety of file formats — CAD, REVIT, PDF, and even Word — are updated in real-time and stakeholders can subscribe to folders that the content lives in and then are notified right away as changes occur.
Designing with 3D modeling technology allows owners to visualize progress throughout project execution as well as the finished product. Centralized data location: Many of the companies that are starting their journey with BIM 360 have been challenged by document control and integration so REVIT models take time to compile, and designers must go back through previous packages and integrate all the content to get the most up-to-date reference file. Meanwhile, the schedule deadlines are still present so the team may be well into the design phase before they get all the content. Once integrated, the BIM 360 platform eliminates such problems as all the data is hosted in the same place and is always up-to-date, with key changes immediately visible as they are checked in.
Another commonly used platform in the past was NAVIS. Within NAVIS, some of the challenges occur when owners take content, in the form of NWC and NWD files, and try to merge it into one master file. With a variety of contractors on site who each own different projects, it is difficult to get a complete picture, and there has not historically been a single platform from which to cull information.
For these projects, BIM 360 represents a new frontier of data management, where everything is consolidated and there is a single location from which everyone can access the latest files. This real-time accessibility is responsible for the most impactful difference in project execution time. There is no longer a waiting period for people to pass off working files, or to get stakeholder buy-in on changes. Now that everything exists in a central location, the latest version is accessible to everyone and handoffs are a thing of the past.
With the real-time information transfer, the old problem of siloed working environments breaks down naturally. Traditionally, project team members tended to keep proprietary design information nearly confidential. With everything in the cloud, by contrast, silos come down and information is more readily available. With the transparency afforded by cloud collaboration, leaders have a level of certainty that team members are doing their jobs in a timely manner and meeting design deliverables.
BIM 360 represents a new frontier of data management, where everything is consolidated and there is a single location from which everyone can access the latest files. In one example, a project team member did a greenfield design on the campus, a phase that is often very confidential, laying the groundwork before the core, shell, and initial build-out of the project. A sub-fab portion of the project needed to be incorporated after the greenfield design. Because of the accessibility and tracking with BIM 360, the project team members who were there at the start are more likely to share files with those who come later to finalize details, as there is less sensitivity around IP concerns. And, because of automatic logging and version control, the files that previously took months to be approved are now available almost immediately after each change, and stakeholders are less reticent to share because they can track changes.
In a similar example, another project team was designing a greenfield addition to existing buildings on site. In the past, the firm designing the fit-up of the facility would have to wait until the initial build was almost complete to receive the files. Now, with BIM 360, all users have access to the files within a short period so they can start assessing the validity of their programming efforts before arriving on site.
The connectivity of the team and real-time collaboration are just the beginning of a long list of advantages with BIM 360 to minimize downtime and maximize productivity. Because the designed systems are programmed to a much more accurate and higher level, the visual representations available with CAD files and 3D models are more robust than a simple PDF of the past. This enhanced collaboration enables project teams to apply more precision to the process of programming — taking information from the stakeholder, validating the constructability of the project, and making a rough plan before getting into the design phase.
The ability to plan early and execute certain parts of the project upfront is just one of the advantages afforded by BIM 360. Collaboration at the forefront of the project and earlier access to data enables project teams to share their findings with one another and the greenfield team as well if needed. The data is also preserved in a central repository where it will be accessible to other project teams later on.
Integration is one area in which technology makes all the difference. One recent example included a bridge tying two buildings together, one of which was pre-constructed. Because the team was able to collaborate and share files easily with BIM 360 early on, they were able to identify issues with attaching the bridge to the building that were not perceptible in the 2D drawings and thus had been overlooked. Because of this insight, they were able to plan the attachment early enough to avoid mishaps on site.
The ability to plan early and execute certain parts of the project upfront is just one of the advantages afforded by BIM 360. Real-time feedback has also been beneficial. In one example, the team had to modify mechanical units on a roof. The model did not match what was in the field, so the team had to work to ensure consistency between the two. Without having to go back through historical documents, the team was able to reconcile the model with the field conditions quickly, which expedited the correction and got the project up and running again. Accurate models that include all the stakeholder and site data provide useful information for future projects as well.
Because the technology is new, there are some challenges with integration, but these tend to focus around the same areas for every project, making them easier to target and address. The first challenge for most companies starting a BIM 360 implementation is that models are not accurate per what was actually constructed in the field so there is a degree of validation that is needed. Once those things are migrated to BIM 360, teams are able to make those recommendations and changes much sooner, and that content trickles down to the current project as well as any other projects that come later.
Another huge time savings comes in the design review process. Because everything is in one place, it is easy to call a meeting, pull up the models, and mark them up in real time, assigning trackable action items for the client, design team, and contractors. Meetings are more productive when everyone is prepared and all the information is available. Without the need to share information back and forth through e-mail, there is less chance of losing critical data and everyone — including the client — has access to files in the cloud whenever they need.
The ability to easily compare iterations of files is a key driver. Within BIM 360, it is possible to overlay different files — and even different file types, such as REVIT, PDF, CAD — and color code them to compare what has been changed, added, or removed. Because of the superior data management, previous iterations are also available and project teams can compare the current version of the file with previous versions, which helps identify the source and timeline of potential clashes as well as how they were dealt with, providing a wealth of insight for the next project team.
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