October 30, 2006
Solibri Model Checker Takes on BIM Files
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! The latest
version of Solibri Model Checker from Solibri, Inc. in Finland takes a leap forward
from its previous role as an analysis program for virtual models to now focus
on comparing Building Information Model (BIM) files. Read about it in this
week’s Industry News.

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Industry News

Solibri Model Checker Takes on BIM Files

by Susan Smith

The latest
of Solibri Model Checker from Solibri, Inc. in Finland takes a leap forward
from its previous role as an analysis program for virtual models to now focus
on comparing Building Information Model (BIM) files.

Columns in Structural design vs. architectural
border=0' width='200' height='141'>
Columns in Structural design vs. architectural

According to Heikki Kulusjarvi,
CEO of Solibri, version 4.1 allows users to analyze information produced by
architectural and structural processes. “Most of the rules we have (we are
using the term ‘rules’ for things we are analyzing and checking) are currently
for architectural design,” explained Kulusjarvi. “One of the first processes we
started from was automated quantity takeoff and cost estimation since a
construction company wanted to use the information for their cost estimations.
We checked that the information was good to be used for that purpose. Now we
also have rules for checking that the structural components are similarly
placed.” For example, an architect has decided there is a load bearing wall in
this location, and can check that the  corresponding wall that is coming from
the structural designer is in the same place and is about the same dimensions.
“If this is not the case, we can produce an ‘issue’ saying they are not located
in the same place.”

Beyond these rules, Solibri is extending
the rule base for all design disciplines. Kulusjarvi said that they develop
rules for new customers. Recently, they have added rules related to
accessibility in buildings for wheelchair access and for egress analysis.

The following is an interview with
Heikki Kulusjarvi about the new release:

AECWeekly: Does Model Checker
work for all BIM products on the market today?

HJ: Yes, Solibri Model Checker
works with all BIM products that produce IFC files. We
support tools for architectural, structural and building services
design. Having said this I would like to point out that it's not the purpose
that all tools would utilize all the information that is generated. This is
also the case with Solibri Model Checker. We build rules for specific purposes
and utilize information required to perform those rules.

Presentation mode
border=0' width='200' height='141'>
Presentation mode

AW:  I thought by its very
nature BIM would modify and conform different aspects of models such as
architectural and structural. Can you explain what it does that the actual BIM
does not do?

My view is that BIM is more a
process than a tool. To have the full power of BIM means that
"information" is sent from one designer (e.g. architect) to an other
(e.g. structural engineer) so that (s)he is able to utilize architectural
information while planning structural components and vice versa.
Typically the structural engineer uses a different tool than the

Using BIM internally without
sending BIM files out brings benefits, but in this case the process
is focused on producing documents (electronic or paper). I have heard someone
calling this kind of process “Drafting Information Modeling (DIM).” You could
say that electronic documents can be utilized by other BIM tools but in
this case you may get the 3D geometry but the bulk of the
"information" will be lost. In my mind, BIM is not an
alternative to producing documents.  It's more like sending all the
information - already created - in one package and in addition to the

The "information" is
the critical part here and that's also where Solibri's focus is. Before
sending out this information you should check it at least as carefully as you
would when sending documents. With Solibri Model Checker, this information can
be checked and analyzed. And when you are receiving information from someone
else you should make sure you got the information you wanted, you fully
understand it, and you can start your part of the process with it. It's all
about how to manage this information and keep the quality of it on a high
level. In building projects, the amount of information to be managed is
increasing all the time. Theoretically, you could check every piece of
information manually, using 3D models, etc., but there are just so
many things that should be checked. For this, a computer software with proper
rules makes it much faster and reliable.

Space not aligned with surrounding walls
border=0' width='200' height='141'>
Space not aligned with surrounding walls

When we analyze architectural and
structural models, Solibri Model Checker compares e.g. a load bearing wall in
the architectural design against structural components at the same
location. The structural designer should have a load bearing wall with about
the same dimensions in the same spot. Or (s)he may have solved this task by
columns and beams having a light structured wall in between. In case
neither of these apply, we may have a problem and Solibri Model Checker makes
an issue" out of this so that the user is notified. The user can
locate the problem and make a judgment as to whether this is a real problem or
not. A typical cause of problems at the site is that doors, windows
and openings are moved or changed in size and this is not noticed.

Some companies use BIM files for automated
quantity take-off and cost estimation. The process itself is straight forward
and fast, but this raises the question of the quality of the data. We can all
understand what happens when BIM information is used for automated
quantity take-off and cost estimation with a bad quality BIM file. You'll get
the price of the building very fast, but in a good case you had so much extra
material that your price was so high that you did not get the deal, and
the bad case is that you actually did get the deal. This is where
Solibri Model Checker is used to analyze the integrity and completeness of the

AW: Is there color coding for
architectural and structural? Is that what the new color schemes mean?

HJ: When we read in files, we
identify architectural, structural, and building services files. This enables
us to differentiate columns in architectural and structural models. For
architectural components, we use a different color scheme for better
visual recognition. Unlike with many 3D/VR visualization tools, we are
not seeking for "natural" looking colors or textures. These
color schemes are adjustable by the user.

AW:  Can you publish your model
into Google Earth with all solid object intelligence intact?

We are merging several models into
one environment to analyze the files. In most cases these combined models have
quite detailed information and my opinion is
that it may be too detailed to keep in Google Earth as
such. Already there are tools available for sending IFC files to Google Earth
and many BIM authoring tools have their own ways to do it.

AW: What is the pricing?

Single license is $4,500 + annual
subscription $1,000 and we also have Network Licenses where the price depends
on the number of concurrent users.


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