Though the basic BIM concept is common to all software, there are variations because of a program's origins:Graphisoft's ArchiCAD developed from an architectural CAD package and so addresses the design process from that perspective.Bentley's Architecture also begins with an architectural approach.Autodesk's Revit was developed for architectural design and subsequent building construction and management.Tekla Structures is based on the company's structural design roots and so has an approach that starts with material properties and analysis.Vico Software Inc.'s 5D Virtual Construction Suite incorporates modeling, estimating, and scheduling into one product, making it 5D by adding a financial dimension to the model. Vico and Computer Methods international Corp. (CMiC), which specializes in project management software, recently partnered to integrate their BIM and enterprise resource planning products. The goal: Get BIM into the hands of builders and executives instead of having it confined to the design and preconstruction phases of a project.
Because BIM has the potential to affect such a broad range of design and construction activities, many special-interest groups have formed to share thoughts, concerns, and best practices.
The American Institute of Architects and Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) both have focus groups, and AGC is updating its Contractors' Guide to BIM. Numerous industry associations have task groups exploring specific uses of the tool.IMPLICATIONS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE
On the commercial side, interest in BIM has exploded in recent years. Virtually every structural request for proposal (RFP) that consulting engineering firm Walter P. Moore, Houston, sees includes requirements for BIM delivery.
“Once clients become exposed to what it can do for a project, they begin to ask for it,” says Chief Information Officer James Jacobi, PE.
Jacobi says that by identifying and removing problems early, the information-packed digital assets that result from using BIM on projects are transforming the way supply chain partners work together to improve the design and construction process. Add to that the fact that the tool can provide the groundwork for an ongoing facility management plan.
It's important to establish BIM-based objectives for a project before requesting proposals, Jacobi says. Part of that will depend on the competency of your team, including members' experience and levels of expertise, to work with the tool. Then include specific questions — perhaps as simple as “Describe your BIM experience” — to help determine which potential partners are up to the task.
— Klemens (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor of Modern Steel Construction, the official publication of the American Institute of Steel Construction, and former technical editor of CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION, a sister magazine to PUBLIC WORKS.
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