November 26, 2007
Outtakes on BIM
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Outtakes on BIM

by Susan Smith

The term “building information modeling (BIM)” describes a technology that contains information about a building from concept, design and construction through operations and management. The use of BIM spans the entire AEC process. Some projects will use BIM in very early schematic design and others will wait until construction. There are no hard and fast rules.

Over the past year, while BIM has become more widely used, the definition has broadened and more products have been developed to assist in its adoption and productivity. The following article recounts some results of surveys of BIM users, outtakes from articles in AECWeekly, a new BIM standard spearheaded by the AIA, all illustrating some aspect of BIM implementation and direction.

AECBytes/Bentley BIM Survey

640 users responded to a blind survey of BIM users conducted by Dr. Lachmi Khemlani , founder and editor of AECBytes, working with Bentley Systems as an independent expert. The results of the survey showed that 58 percent of respondents preferred the approach and features of Bentley BIM solutions while 38 percent of all respondents prefer AutoCAD Revit and of the remainder, “strongly preferred” responses, 69 percent chose Bentley BIM solutions and 31 percent chose Revit. The same survey has been placed
online so that other BIM users can take the survey themselves and compare their thoughts to what others have concluded.

In the
press release, Huw Roberts, global marketing director, Bentley Building, commented, “Our initial interest in the survey was twofold: first, to aid in our understanding of what BIM users value as a guide to our ongoing BIM development; and second, to provide a comparative measure of the values placed on the relative strengths of Bentley BIM and Revit.”

The BIM Wizard enables professionals to take the BIM survey and uses their responses to generate a recommendation of Revit or Bentley BIM – based on their BIM approach preferences, their ratings of the BIM features, and the respective strengths of Bentley BIM and Revit as established by Dr. Khemlani. It also creates a report that compares their choices to the responses of their peers in the survey conducted by Dr. Khemlani.

AECbytes has released a qualitative report on the survey titled “Top Criteria for BIM Solutions.”

A PDF file containing the full details of the quantitative analysis is available

For Bentley, the survey has been helpful to show what decisions users value as they are adopting and implementing BIM, according to Roberts. “It helps us validate where we’re on the right track and where we need to put more energy into our future development.”

During the question and answer period of an industry webcast, the following questions were asked:

1) Out of the 640 people who replied to the survey, how many of those were actually BIM users who were actually using 3D live models and how many were just considering the move to BIM and therefore haven’t really tried it and didn’t understand what features would be relevant to them in their move?

87% of those that responded have either already adopted BIM in their practice or are actively evaluating BIM right now.

2) According to Autodesk, Revit is selling more than ADT, it’s their best architectural package for sales. There is an element of how well are you seeing Revit doing and how well are you competing against it?

BIM is raising all boats. Our users are adopting BIM and growing with that, and Autodesk users are adopting Revit and growing with that. Some of each are looking at the other, which is not surprising. And so we’re both benefiting well from BIM. Users moving to BIM are benefitting as well. We’re having our best year ever. We can fairly say that the large marketing effort that Autodesk has put into BIM and the value we have put on it has opened people’s eyes to BIM solutions.

3) What percentage of the people who responded were existing Bentley customers as opposed to Autodesk customers?

Autodesk respondents were 67% and Bentley were 15%. They could pick more than one choice – probably everybody picked Autodesk including all or most of the people who picked Bentley.

4) What were the key surprises for you? Have you begun to map a strategy going forward?

The desire for automated change management versus performance in practice was of a lower rank of importance in terms of approaches. However, in the field we hear the performance questions a lot and thought that would score higher. We’ll do further investigation to understand that result. This has already started informing those plans going forward.

In 2003, Autodesk did a research study to study experiences of its customers using Autodesk Revit. They also conducted an online survey of Revit customers, in which 82% of respondents noted their design process was changing as a result of using Revit, and 80% reported that their deliverables were changing as well.

The change to a parametric building modeler is a huge change but is essential for architectural design. Implementation strategies should include a way to co-exist with and transition from 2D to 3D applications that are already resident in architectural design firms. Today, more attention is being placed on the opportunity to incorporate energy analysis, specifications and cost scheduling and estimating into the BIM model.

BIM and Sustainable Design

Although it was not originally intended for sustainable design, BIM is now being seen as a useful tool to analyze energy use and resource consumption. The idea is, that if firms can understand energy use and resource consumption early on in the design process they have a better chance to change them before the construction phase.

Sustainable analysis is just one of the things you can do with the data set from a BIM. You can’t do this with a graphical 2D approach to design.

Jay Bhatt, vice president of Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Solutions at Autodesk, described BIM as a “workflow, a change of process of architects and engineers who are executing it, based around three critical things: coordination, a consistent set of information utilized for design, and that the information is able to be computed.” A lot of emphasis in recent years has been put on coordination, because there are large macroeconomic pressures put on the industry and a consistent representation of the information being modeled is essential.

“We don’t think it works to have a high end enterprise approach to sustainable design,” said Bhatt. “We think anyone designing a building in any capacity should have the ability to perform energy analysis on buildings, or to test the building for sustainability. Instead of crunching those drawings and send them out to a high end analysis vendor who can take two weeks to do it with a lot of cost, you should be able to do it in product, create the design in Revit, click a button and run an energy analysis, with confidence that your design can actually be built in a
socially conscious way.”

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