BIMs – Building Information Models – An Overview

Posted on March 30th, 2016 in Reference

What are BIMs?

BIMs (Building Information Models) are interconnected, parametric digital representations of buildings and their components. They originated about 20 years ago and have been growing in popularity because of the value they offer to architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, and manufacturers of building products. Early BIM software developers had a vision of the benefits to an all-digital model of architecture. With everyone having access to the same digital information, there is reduction in construction timelines and misinformation made possible by vast amounts of 24/7 real-time information in text, numeric and and 3D (3-Dimensional) formats.

Just as in mechanical or electrical product design for a telephone or automobile with hundreds or thousands of components, in the AEC market (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) the buildings can be designed and managed in a digital format, with myriad advantages. The 3D digital models are object-based and tied to a database of all components which are carefully categorized and can even have 4th and 5th dimensions, for time-based values for procurement and construction scheduling, and price-based values for cost management.

What are the Benefits of BIMs?

When all of the dimensions, quantities and specific placement of products are implemented into a building digitally, there are many advantages. It’s widely understood that changes are imminent in designing anything. The many changes made in the design and construction cycle require time and associated costs. When those changes can be completed more effectively by altering the digital model, less time and money is expended. In the past, interference of components was often not detected until the construction phase, but now in the digital model, crash detection can be performed at the earliest phases of design. All of this visualization and data-rich environment has benefit to the different disciplines and phases of the building lifecycle.

Centralization of the digital information is also a significant advantage to the contractor who has to offer a proposal for the building, and has to manage through the construction management phase. Furthermore, the probability of errors or misinformation is lower and schedule delays are reduced in part because of the immediacy of information access. And when the building is complete, the owner of the building has a more effective means of managing the facility throughout its long life of maintenance and remodeling.

Once the commitment is made by a manufactuer of building products to provide their BIMs and specifications on any of the BIM repositories via the Internet, there are many ways to be found: searching for a part number, a manufacturer name, a product category and other terms. For anyone interested in better marketing their product for the building industry, it’s important to produce BIMs because they are becoming a competitive advantage; if you have a similar or identical product line to a competitor, and you do not have BIMs, yet your competitor does, the opportunity, exposure and professional perception is greater for your competition.

Who creates BIMs?

In order for building models to be digital, someone has to create them. Manufacturers of products for the building are the ideal resource to provide BIMs used by architects in their designs. The information will be most accurate and complete, and when the manufacturer provides BIMs it effectively precludes duplication of effort of individual architects across the globe, inefficiently making their own components to suit their individual needs. For building product manufacturers, offering this digital information is an important marketing advantage. It enables direct digital communication with the end user of the information.

Selection of products are based on information, so providing more professional quality information offers more opportunities to be be specified and selected. That translates to opportunities for more sales revenue. In addition to the BIMs, literature, catalogs, drawings, and engineering specifications can all be provided in one place for digital review or downloading. The more information that can be provided via this means the more effective it is for the provider and recipient. In today’s global need for speed, much work is being done asynchronously in the off hours of morning and night when other people may not be available. So having the information available 24/7 in the format needed, designers, architects, engineers, and construction professionals can do what they need uninhibited.

What software is used for BIMs?

Manufacturers of building products are likely using one of a handful of popular mechanical 3D CAD (Three-Dimensional Computer Aided Design) software systems to design and engineer their products. This 3D CAD software is not the same software used to create the BIMs. Exporting file formats from the mechanical CAD is only the beginning of creating BIMs, and even that is not always simple. So designers and manufacturers of products for the AEC market need to either acquire new software or look to the outside for a third party firm offering assistance in creating BIMs. There is much to know when offering BIMs so be prepared for a learning curve. The building industry knows that BIMs are here to stay and creating or managing this information requires an investment to participate.

In considering BIM software, there are several leading software brands that offer the capability to create and manage BIMs, such as Autodesk’s Revit and Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD. Repositories of BIMs of the many components that comprise a building, such as windows, doors, lighting, electrical and plumbing systems, and even furniture, are offered by leading websites such as Seek or ARCAT, or directly from a product manufacturer’s web site.

How can I get someone to create BIMs for my product line?

We have created BIMs for the AEC market and can assist manufacturers that need to bridge the gap from mechanical CAD to BIMs. We also have designed, engineered and tested products for the construction market with experience in plumbing, electrical, lighting, furniture, vending machines, food service, washroom/restroom systems, floor care and water treatment systems.

 

 

CAD Updates – Creo 3.0 & SolidWorks 2015

Posted on October 7th, 2014 in News, Reference

Here at The Metcalfe Group we’re always striving to stay on top of the latest technology and tools in product development in order to create better products faster. As you may have guessed, one of our primary tools is CAD. We’ve recently upgraded PTC Creo (formerly Pro/E) to version 3.0 and SolidWorks 2015 will soon be released. These are the two major players in product development, and while conceptual work can really be done in whatever software one is comfortable in, having a common software platform allows easy collaboration with our customers’ designers and engineers and makes for a quicker road to production.

SolidWorks has been used for the majority of the CAD work we do at The Metcalfe Group. This year’s enhancements include many to the user interface that should make our lives easier and reduce headaches, as well as a few powerful tools that get to the desired geometry in fewer steps than before. Others have compiled their top lists of features if you’re interested (Javelin and SolidSmack or the official version), but the short version is that we’re excited to use some asymmetric fillets, move some faces with end conditions, view parent/child relationships, and flatten a few surfaces on your next project.

PTC Creo is also a very powerful tool that a number of our customers use. PTC has a good top list of enhancements as does Develop 3D. Among them are enhanced abilities to work with other CAD software, integrate freeform surfaces with other geometry (they also got the flatten surface memo), and analyze parts. While SolidWorks still wins on the interface front, Creo 3.0 has its own interface enhancements, including ways to more efficiently work with early stage concepts.

Of course, if your organization has not yet upgraded (many wait a bit for the bugs to be worked out) we always keep previous versions on our computers. So we’ll be able to give you SolidWorks 2014 and Creo 2.0 files for as long as you like. Let us know how we can put these tools to work for you.

 

What Your Brand Says About You: The Importance of Visual Brand Language

Posted on July 16th, 2013 in Reference

News-VBL-2

The power of branding surrounds us on a constant basis. Quickly, can you guess what company’s logo this is? If you guessed McDonald’s and identified the image as those well-known, easily-recognizable golden arches, then you have just experienced the power of branding. Why is it that some companies seem to crop up in everyday conversation, while others don’t seem to be as pervasive? When it comes to establishing and maintaining a brand’s identity, nothing does more than the proper application of Visual Brand Language. (more…)