November 22, 2010
Delivering BIM Data to the Field
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Delivering BIM Data to the Field

By Susan Smith

Up until recently, the AEC industry has been largely focused on using BIM for the creation and maintenance of design elements or plans created in the office. As more people see the potential for BIM in construction, they realize that it can be used in all phases of the construction process --from planning, bidding and designing to building and management - and be taken out to the field.

Jurrud Krug, marketing manager for the Building Construction Division of Trimble, spoke about two recent announcements revolving around delivering BIM data, made by the company at their recent Trimble Dimensions 2010 Conference held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

An interesting initiative spearheaded by Trimble is "BIM to Field" that will focus on helping building owners, contractors, and engineers better understand the potential of solutions that allow the transfer of BIM data to field level systems. While the Website is a major step forward in creating awareness about the transfer of BIM data to the field, the initiative's activities will extend further to include hosting annual seminars, Webinar series, as well as product and solution level certifications, according to King. For now the Website will be a resource for case studies, videos, white papers, and best practices learned from the industry.

The initiative is comprised of industry leading solution providers including Accubid, Micro Application Packages LTD (MAP), QuickPen, Tekla, Trimble, Technical Sales International (TSI) and Vela Systems. Each of these partners has developed unique products and solutions that provide an aspect of delivering BIM data to the field.

“We're trying to create some awareness of taking that BIM information down to the field,” explained Krug. “I think holistically BIM is a difficult concept to grasp in so far as how to get there, but then to think of it as more functional -- from just a boardroom type of notion to actually getting it into the field to people who can make on the spot decisions.”

Each of the partners has some products and IP that reach the same space and have to share the ideals of Trimble which involve taking some data and getting it down to the field level. “Basically it's an alliance to create awareness of how to better arm the end user, architect, engineer or contractor about how to effectively do this,” said Krug. “We wanted to give some concrete examples and usable material for these people to be able to latch onto. It's a website now, but the plans are to have road shows and very visible representations of the content in other areas. Potentially we would like to have product or solution level certifications - where we would stamp or
verify BIM in the field solutions that have been run through a process so that we can verify they are capable of delivering what they have promised.”

In terms of integration between these partner products and services, there is an existing integration with Tekla currently, within their Tekla Structures product. It is a model viewing application that allows you to take information and view it in 3D for structural applications and interface with Trimble's layout solution so that it can be put into a device and then out to the field. “You are viewing that Tekla Structures model on the handheld controller with the laser being able to pinpoint points specifically defined within that model and if there is any deviations or changes within the field environment you can actually note those into the controller and that file can be
uploaded back into Tekla Structures to monitor or make notes of the deviations that have been found in the field.”

Some of the other products are aspiring to a similar level of integration but with their own unique applications. All the partners share the goal of getting information and building products that are able to carry the BIM data to field devices.

“I think the notion of having a 3D model that can help in coordination and viewing the project at large definitely is a functional aspect of construction process,” said Krug. “But being able to take it to a functional level, to planning, designing, building around the data that's in output is the next step and that's where we're trying to educate the industry to see that there is a very functional value for all this BIM data that's coming out of these systems and we're trying to facilitate that.”

Another announcement made at the Trimble event is an HVAC and sheet metal services product called Trimble Design Link, a BIM conduit design tool that runs on AutoCAD MEP that allows HVAC and mechanical contractors to create their runs of duct, adding the point data from hangers, and to be able to install those and fabricate duct runs. It is designed to be easy to link Design Link to an estimating package such as the QuickPen AutoBID estimating software to verify that what was being estimated was actually being delivered from a materials perspective in the field and within the design.

“You can link directly to the AutoBID product; it links into the fabrication side so you can actually create your document to have it linked to the Vulcan fabrication solution and have it on the cutting or plasma table to output your duct,” said Krug. “It's a shared database between the Vulcan fabrication product and the Design Link product. It has all the libraries and standards that are within the AutoCAD MEP product and shared within the Vulcan product.”

Design Link can be taken to the field with the hanger points in the file, and this can be exported to the Trimble MEP unit. The solution will go out with laser and pinpoint the exact location of those connection points in the field. “You can mark those and put your hanger points for hanging the ducts, and one person can do it,” said Krug. “You can also take the export of the file, as an IFC , all that data comes out about the point data and run data and is exported as an IFC format which then can be opened up into NavisWorks, Solibri, or Tekla Structures for clash detection etc.”

The product is a platform for Trimble to extend the functionality within the subcontract trade. The effort is intended to link disparate applications together into one workflow.

“From our perspective, having an interoperable end to end solution is where we want to head.” Krug said.

“If you know AutoCAD and you can design within CAD using the standards-based information within the system,” said Krug. The functionality built into the other applications is literally a click away. A lot of the interactivity is tightly integrated between the two applications. Design Link leverages the AutoCAD MEP platform with built-in features for building advanced routing and 3D design of MEP systems.

The standards-based detail facilitates the exchange of data between the finished design to estimating, collision avoidance and collaboration applications, fabrication and field layout. The new solution from Trimble leverages Autodesk's AutoCAD MEP platform with built-in features for creating advanced routing and 3D design of MEP systems.

There is also a specialty export option in Design Link that allows Tekla Structures users to easily import a Trimble Design Link file for clash detection and collision avoidance analysis. Structures users can also query fabrication data contained within the Trimble Design Link file.

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