Industry News

How BIM helps facilitate contactless coordination on complex construction projects

October 22, 2020
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This post is sponsored by U.S. CAD

Social distancing has made project coordination among stakeholders even more challenging. However there are multiple Building Information Modeling tools that can assist with the updating of projects and the comparing of data across a project’s lifecycle. U.S. CAD Technology Consultant and 20-year-industry-veteran Teresa Martin explains why adoption of up-to-date BIM solutions is long overdue. 

Thanks to BIM, which stages of a project can be coordinated remotely?

BIM allows most of the workflow to live in the cloud with solutions such as Autodesk’s Construction Cloud, MTWO and Panzura. These enable design and construction teams to coordinate seamlessly. By creating a single platform and source of current data that is accessible 24/7, projects can be coordinated remotely during design, construction modeling, construction data gathering, digital asset handover and facilities management. BIM allows for continuous data flow from conceptual to handover. If implemented correctly, a building owner/client can have a full digital twin of the project.  

What features unique to BIM make coordination most efficient? 

BIM allows for the tracking and updating of changes without rework. Design, building and construction processes changed little with the introduction of computers. Unlike industries like banking, information services and marketing which have invested in IT, IT security and digitizing their physical assets, the building industry has lagged far behind. There is still a lot of room for improvement.

The introduction of CAD three decades ago merely moved the process of hand drafting to drafting on a computer. This improved efficiencies around rework and allowed for the reuse of certain assets, yet each drawing still had to be revised manually, albeit on the computer. This frequently introduced errors. 

Teresa Martin
Teresa Martin

BIM changed that. It allows for instantaneous change across multiple data sets. Information does not have to be reentered, thus reducing errors and time spent in coordination meetings clarifying which data is current and correct. 

How does BIM help coordinate data collection and comparison?

BIM enables the connecting of disparate data streams across multiple project assets. For instance, materials assigned to wall assemblies can be integrated with bidding and cost data, thus allowing up-to-the-minute estimates on materials, labor, specifications and other cost events. Further, potential changes can be compared and evaluated for code compliance, client requirements and even environmental impact.

How can discrepancies among contractors be caught early in a project’s lifecycle? 

In live coordination meetings. BIM enables the creation of digital twins of project data that can be evaluated across multiple dimensions. For instance, physical issues such as a steel beam cutting across a duct can be caught before installation, thus saving time and money on expensive rip outs. By assimilating information rich 3D BIM models and the additional dimensions of materials estimates, scheduling and cost, BIM allows for efficient change and communication among all project contractors and trades.  

During the coronavirus pandemic, are there added benefits to using BIM-enabled contactless coordination? 

Yes, there are. The coronavirus has shown a bright spotlight on the construction industry and its rhetorical foot dragging. As digital assets across the entire economy doubled over the past 15 years, analytics have shown that sectors that have already digitized their physical assets have grown five times faster than other sectors. Business that invested early in a digitally powered workforce are faring much better during the pandemic and continue to maintain an enormous lead in productivity and efficiencies. 

For the late blooming construction industry, firms that embraced cloud and digital coordination tools such as Plan Grid, BIM 360 and Assemble are faring much better than firms who are just jumping in now. Thankfully, many of these digital tools have gone through multiple improvements and streamlined interface changes, making them easier to learn and adopt for firms that are late adopters of mobile technologies and workflows.  

 

Teresa Martin, Technical Consultant, U.S. CAD

With more than 20 years experience in architectural design, project management and BIM coordination, Teresa Martin is an accredited trainer. She provides consulting services to clients, helping them adopt BIM, accelerate projects, create BIM best practices and learn leading AEC technologies. She often presents at local, national and global AEC events, including Autodesk University.