Tuesday, November 17, 2009

3D Coordination vs BIM Coordination

To start this post I would like to ask the question,

"How can we BIM better?"

I'm using BIM here both as the software that enables the process and the process itself. After having worked in this industry for a number of years now, I have a couple of process change ideas that have been rolling around for a while that I would like to add to the discussion and of course hear everyone's thoughts on.

Who thought design models were ever a good idea? It has been my experience that you could keep the MEP and FP engineers from working on a project until the shell and structure is designed to a high level of completion (approximately 90-95% complete) and then hand it off to a sub/engineer hybrid team or a subcontractor with an engineer on staff to make it work.

This would save a heck of a lot of time and ultimately make for a better coordinated design in between architectural and structural, which is often lacking. Additionally it would give the architect the time to look at the major issues such as seismic bracing, material specifications and LEED requirements affecting the structure and give the engineers enough information to know the constraints on their designs and the potential impacts of decisions from the start.

Frankly, I feel sorry for the engineers work on a "typical" design project as it seems like its a never ending routine of shift, explore, test, change and then receive more detailed information and in the end there are so many time constraints to deliver the "final product" in that the engineer often is forced to issue incomplete documentation and adapt a "design intent" strategy for delivering docs.

My thoughts here would be implement a Core Phase and a Systems Phase immediately following.

(And no I don't buy the clear space (above ceiling or in a raised floor) argument, this could easily be handled and probably better handled after a sophisticated design is given to an engineer worth their salt as well as become an additional profit center for them.)

Just an idea, but I 'd love to hear your thoughts as always and facilitate the discussion for a better way to facilitate faster more efficient design collaboration.

And have a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moving Components and Files in Navisworks

So I heard a Navisworks presentation recently where the presenter either didn't understand, goofed or didn't have his third cup of coffee (which I think we all can relate to), but said you can't "move" objects in Navis. So to quickly set the record straight, yes you can move files and components both in Navisworks but it's not like moving an item in Revit or other modeling software.

Tranlating items v translating files
So we've all seen Navisworks and have appended models to create a composite model like so.

Click on all images if blurry for higher-res
All Images by Brad Hardin, barnhart-heery, inc.

But what a lot of folks might not know is that once you have created your composite model you can select either an entire file and translate it or you can select an individual component and translate it. Keep in min that we are working in an .NWF file format. I'll talk later on why .NWD file translation is wonky.

That said to translate an entire file, highlight on the Selection Tree and right click on the "File Units and Transform" command as shown below.
This then pulls up the transform dialog box that allows you to enter in transformed coordinates and essentially move the entire file by entering in fett, inches or metric units depending on your system.

While I don't recommend this tool to set up the alignment of your files, it is awfully handy when trying to relocate the entire elevation of say Fire sprinkler lines or a "what if" sturcture scenario, etc... Handy but usually our job as "BIM folk" is to change bits and pieces of a total design and make shifts here and there to reduce clashes and resolve design issues. Which takes us to transforming components....

Transforming components is not that complicated either. However ,I would recommend a process interjection here. If you haven't used the "measure" tool in Navisworks then I will introduce the newbies to it. If you are a seasoned vet and have this under control then I would recommend skipping ahead to the next paragraph that begins with "This image below..." (kind of like choose your own adventure).

To begin, if you want to move components in Navisworks, typically you need to know some measure of distance to enter as it isn't as easy to move components around as it is in Revit to measure the distance from one system to another to find out "clear space".

The image below shows a clash in between an electrical conduit sleeved slab penetration and a deck mounted utility light. In this case, I always look at moving the "LCD" - "least common denominator" which in this example is the lighting layout as the conduit sleeve needs to stack for all three floors of this design, instead of jog. So we're moving some lights. But how far Brad? How far are we moving those lights? Well I'm about to tell you.

Open the Measure tool from your dialog box, looks like this:

Then click on one end of the conduit sleeve (with snaps turned on...hit Help if you don't know how to do this) to the other end.

*Note - Keep in mind this is to find a ballpark measurement, if you want to get really exact in Navis, I recommend selecting your zoom tool and then right clicking on your view cube wheel and selecting orthographic instead of perspective and aligning your view to the dimension you need.

As you can see from the image below the sleeve is about 6.11" Which we will round up to 7", since there is no equipment to the left of the light and transform the light 7" to see if this clears our clash.

By highlighting the component, in this case the light, and right clicking, I will select the Override Item - > Override Transform. This will bring up a dialog box that looks like the image below. Here I will enter 7" in the Y direction that I wish to transform the object.

Click OK and "Voila!" now you can see that the light has shifted (not the entire file) and that we are visibly clear of the previous clash.

This type of quick review and alteration is a "Must Know" for the BIM Manager and one that comes in pretty handy when doing a live coordination meeting or doing some quick "what-if" scenarios among other things.

Let me know if you have anything to add to the tutorial as input is always welcome and have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Posts in the Same Day!?

I know what you're thinking...here we go two months without a post and now, bam two posts in the same day?! Crazy I know.

Moving on. It seems lately that everyone is in the HAVE TO GET WORK mode lately. And of course this is completely understandable and justifiable. I know we have been cranking out proposals and RFQ's right and left, while still managing all of our other projects. But every now and then I find myself at a point that is very rare...I call it the "Between Things...Thing". (While this is not too technical of a term of course, those who follow this blog or know me, also know that I think too much seriousness takes a lot of the fun out of what we do and doesn't really help in the end.)

Some people call the BTT (Between Things Thing) down time, EBAY time, check your 401k time, write on your blog time, update your LinkedIn profile time or time to visit with coworkers and talk about The Office season finale.

For a BIM Department...the BTT (Between Things Thing) is gaps in time between issuing clash detection reports, coordination emails, 4D updates, model builds, redesigns, RFI's and field coordination reports that can be used to increase your efficiencies to continue to complete this work even faster.

Here's the deal, every week my team and I have a meeting (a Lean meeting of course we have to practice what we preach) and I outline the standard/tutorials that need to be completed in the BTT gaps. These can include everything from BIM Project Startup Checklists to Coursework for our guys in the field to use to BIM specification customization. All of these continue to expand our ever growing standards and reference library.

I have included a sample snippit of a standard we distribute to team members who want to review the model clashes and 4D of a project with Navisworks Freedom here

While this current library of standards is growing into quite an impressive document/book, the intent is to begin using it for:
- New hires - both in the field and in the BIM Division to better acquaint themselves with how to do things the right way and limit "over the shoulder time"
- Executives - to orient themselves with our processes and technology
- Marketing - to stay away from "Hollywood BIM" and make sure we are promising what we can deliver
- Ourselves - believe it or not from time to time we forget things and this has served as an excellent reminder on more than one occasion.

BIM Projection Spreadsheet

So I've been a little further behind than I anticipated...anyways to expand on what we were discussing earlier, I have been digging a little deeper lately into more of the project management end of what it means to be a BIM Manager.

To that end I have posted here a spreadsheet in Google Docs that shows how we are linking our weekly time sheets to our monthly projections / expenses. While some of it looks like it got lost in the translation, I think you'll get the general concept.

Probably one of the biggest hurdles we've had in our current implementation is billing against project budgets that are slim to nonexistent. The course of action I've taken to resolve it, is to get involved earlier in the process of estimating/bidding or establishing the GMP on negotiated work to make sure that we have a justifiable and accurate budget in the job so we aren't making PM's unhappy campers.

Currently we are using this type of spreadsheet (though in Oracle) to track our cost histories for each phase of a project to validate future BIM enabled construction projects. While I know a number of companies bill their BIM Department to General Ledger, I've found you still need to know just how much a certain size of project will cost in the overall project framework which ultimately affects that bottom line.

I've made it a point to start discussing with the PM's at the beginning of each month exactly how many total hours we anticipate billing towards their projects. Although at first some of them love to kick and scream a little bit after a while they really appreciate the communication and more importantly the value add to their job.

Some more posts coming soon!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Setting up a New Division

First of all, apologies for not posting for quite a while, you will start to see much more frequent posts now that things are a bit more settled...

Settled you ask?

Well, it's been a whirlwind couple of weeks, however we have officially relocated to the west coast to be closer to my wife's family and we are truly enjoying the beautiful weather, beaches and people. More importantly the new challenge of setting up a new BIM division in the San Diego market!

Stay tuned as I will continue to upload standards, tasks and challenges as I undertake this journey once again and hopefully it will be helpful to the folks who have emailed me about being tasked with setting up a BIM department and making it work! Coming soon: How to measure BIM profitability vs. time lost on an employee and project level...oh yes this will involve spreadsheets.

Lucia digs the sand

Monday, June 8, 2009

Top Ten Architecture Modeling Mistakes

We've all heard it before. "The architects models are worthless and unusable." So here's my first crack at a top ten list of things architects need to avoid when modeling that inhibit further progress when dealing with contractors and consultants (i.e. structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, GIS and so on)

Top ten modeling mistakes architects make:

1.) Alignment - This is uber important. Especially when using the model for IES, CFD or other analytical tools. Floors connect to walls, parapets extend past roof lines, footings align with slabs or are integral to them. Oh yeah and windows and doors need to be modeled as constructed. Unfortunately a 500 lb aluminum storefront window can't bear on only the substrate and exterior finishes.

2.) No generic modeling. Or at least don't share the models until they have material and intelligence otherwise the models are distributing maybes and kind ofs which don't help any body and in reality can really confuse the team.

3.) Model as constructed. Walls are not 150 ft tall. Floors are not 1700 ft long without joints. Pre-cast panels are just that, panels. Also when concrete floors and deck pans are modeled they need to be modeled to their exact dimensions. Also ceilings have wire supports, which can easily be worked around pipes for the most part, however pipe hangers, duct hangers and other supporting appurtenances need to be modeled. Use best judgement.

4.) Don't use design options. A lot of tools will not recognize the difference between design option 1 or 2 when exported and lump everything together. Separate files work here and in reality work better at an early stage.

5.) Align and orient all structure to grid lines and exact locked and constrained dimensions. This saves on time (moving a grid line as opposed to 100 columns) and makes the modeling inherently more accurate.

6.) If a floor replicates exactly a number of times use groups and copy. You can always ungroup if the program becomes more complex.

7.) Don't model the structure if you have a structural engineer on the team who is doing BIM. The engineer's model is what should be built and tested, not the architects. Link it in, save time and if you need additional structure create a separate workset that you can send to the engineer to update his model.

8.) Limit 2D info. BIM is nice in the fact you can click on a component and it will tell the user what it is and that you can model as needed.

9.) Control your levels and families. Family creation needs to be created as accurately as possible and with flexible sizing options. This is the only time I encourage an architect to use a generic block and then go back later and change it to a worthwhile family object. Also learn how to model families correctly, these are often the biggest propagator for "blank" clashes. Levels need to be limited. When there are too many different objects hosted to too many differing levels it will get very confusing during the analysis phase unless there is some system put in place that makes sense to the team.

10.) Don't send junk. if the model isn't finished, if it's not usable and if it's not coherent it won't be to anyone else.

Thanks to Jeff Woodward from Midwest CAD who came up with this idea and I hope this helps begin a dialog.

Feel free to add on if you can think of anymore, these were just the "biggies" off the top of my head.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Great to hear from so many people!

Thanks for all of the notes, emails, suggestions and atta boys about the book. Please keep the input coming so I can build on this and make the next one even better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Composite Model Strategy p.2

So here's the second part of the post, the how to. I know most have you have heard of WAN and LAN networks, however, what I'd really like to start talking about is how this works within the framework of a BIM collaboration. For those of you who haven't checked it out, I strongly recommend looking at Riverbed Technologies, who essentially has developed a system of network WAN optimizers that allow for multiple users across multiple networks to access and update a single file minimizing the drag on your local (LAN) machines. Although there is quite a large investment involved in the Riverbed and Steelhead systems it does allow users to collaborate using a single Revit model file across the internet. Also it makes it super convenient to enable its use with mobile devices in the field and encrypts the data to meet pretty tough security protocols.

Another new technology to come to the forefront of late is the BIM server. You can apply to test drive this new plugin here.
What's great about this technology is that it allows users to upload and download the latest iterations of BIM files in IFC format from a centralized location. Although this technology is relatively new, it holds the most promise in that it is being developed as a free resource for the industry to plug into and the fact that it has been developed to IFC standards as a baseline makes it a very promising technology.

Image copyright and from www.bimserver.org

Book Comes Out in One Week!

Hey everyone! It's been a second since my last post, but as many of you know this was due in large part to writing my book. This book will be released on Amazon may 7th and should hit bookstores on May 9th.

Please feel free to hit me back with responses, questions, dialog and suggestions as this is the first iteration of the book, I would really like for the future editions to address what the issues are that you and your teams face and continue to develop upon this first edition.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Composite Model Strategy p.1

I recently was asked how to use architects models if they're "trash". While it seems like a good question and easy to ask if you aren't an architect, I have been asked the same from engineers and fabricators by contractors and heard from the architects, what kind of model is the contractor looking for?? Basically everybody is asking why they can't use each other's models. Here's the deal (generally speaking).

- Engineers (mechanical) are using general architecture models to run CFD and daylighting analysis. Here's what's important to have right in the architecture model. First, floors align with the exterior walls, no gaps and if the floor bears on the exterior wall verify it aligns with the internal structure of the wall and doesn't penetrate or overlap the exterior wall finish, otherwise...no go. Next the roof needs to align with the parapet wall, same rules on the exterior finish.

- Contractors are using models for just about everything depending on who you're working with. This means more things than I can probably include in a blog but here is my best shot.

1) Model it right. If the interior walls are 9'-6" high and then diagonally braced to structure above. Model the walls at 9'-6" not to structure. It helps on estimates, clash detection and just about everything else. Accuracy is the first step to a good model.

2) There is no generic modeling. And architects and engineers everywhere say "but what if?" and "won't the contractor lock me into my material selection?"

There are a couple of answers to this and why I say there isn't any generic modeling. First the relationship between the architect and the contractor needs to change. Desgn-build and IPD are great starts to a reformed process, I think that we are probably going to see even more integrated forms of delivery soon. This of course means that a brick wall, can turn into a rainscreen, which can turn into metal panel. This is the very nature of design and construction... things change. So model as the design is being envisioned. The estimating contractor will be making assumptions on construction type and materials anyways, might as well better inform the assuptions being made. If you're wondering why contractors are calling models "worthless" this would be one of those reasons.

3) Design models don't work. BIM isn't CAD. If you're building a BIM to provide a construction tool that helps better coordinate the project than build the model to a level of constructable detail that a GC can use and build from start the dialog with the contractor to find out what they need as well. Construction is a team sport. Otherwise use CAD or use BIM to just generate your CD's, but don't sell it as "doing BIM."

4.) More detailed models replace less detailed models. For example, structural models supercede intial architect structural models. Detailed structural models/fab models supercede structural models.

Well this is a start.... I'll continue this when my daughter isn't needing to go to bed..turns out she's not as into ESPN as daddy...what's up with that?!