How BIM Interoperability is Affecting AEC Companies

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Twenty-plus years ago, architects, engineers and construction (AEC) contractors that dared to automate had their chosen software and their own inhouse routines that the default “computer guru” developed to keep teams as productive as possible. But those teams only communicated with each other inhouse, if they even achieved that. The data/information used to create their work product – paper drawings – certainly didn’t translate over to benefit other teams in other companies working on the project.

When building information modeling (BIM) came on the scene, one of the paradigm shifts was the notion that teams from all the project stakeholders would work together and share information to complete a project. It was a foreign concept to companies accustomed to protecting their productivity secrets. BIM processes shook those attitudes to the core. BIM made it possible to not only share information, but to share the design work.


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Image: Autodesk

The concept of BIM is now firmly entrenched in the AEC industry. As numerous studies and surveys have reported, companies who dared to adopt BIM processes have come far and achieved much since those early days. A 2021 Dodge Data & Analytics SmartMarket Report indicated that roughly 35-40 percent of civil engineering, construction, MEP, and structural engineering companies which have adopted BIM did so in just the past four years.

As different disciplines still want to use tools, standards and templates unique to their workflows, in recent years the promise of BIM has taken a giant leap forward. The introduction of platforms, like Autodesk Construction Cloud, has enabled multiple disciplines with multiple products to interact and share data on a project in real time, including mobile options.

BIM image: BigRentz.com

Examples of Autodesk targeted add-in apps – aka. BIM Interoperability Tools for Revit (released in October 2021 and free) – include:

  • Model Checker and a separate Configurator
  • Spatial Data Tool
  • Equipment Data Tool
  • Classification Manager (Standardized Data Tool)
  • COBie Extension

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Consider the following ways cloud-based BIM interoperability affects AEC companies.

Data

It is now possible for all of the project’s teams to share the same data in the same model at the same time. They can complete their portion of the job using interoperable software tools specific to their discipline. Data and designs can be verified before the project is constructed. The BIM model can be used to manage current documents and standards, store planning and design history, comprehend lessons learned, and envision the impacts of future decisions.

Communication

By making use of interoperable BIM processes, miscommunication and mistakes are reduced. People working behind the scenes have a direct path to track what’s happening on the project without ever visiting the jobsite. Collaboration enables teams – particularly trades with overlapping processes – to effectively communicate on the jobsite.

Quality

The ideal project is one where:

  • costs are balanced with the budget,
  • workforce inputs are balanced with the schedule, and
  • quality is maintained. 

A federated BIM model is the way companies can achieve these ideals. Using BIM for quality control can help avoid litigation and damaged reputations. Productivity and profitability increase, and safety-related incidents decrease.


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