Moving from 2D to BIM – Doing and Becoming Something New

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Computer-aided design (CAD) has enriched the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, enhancing productivity way beyond the potential that existed with manually produced paper drawings. The built world is more complex today; fortunately, the designs used to construct it are increasingly accurate.

One of the challenges the AEC industry is wrangling with is the pressure to produce projects faster and within budget. Building information modeling (BIM) is enabling more companies to meet those schedule and budget challenges.

construction cranes tall buildings under construction blue sky
Image: Autodesk

From CAD to BIM

On the Autodesk blog, Revit specialist Tomasz Fudala pointed out that CAD revolutionized AEC.

Some of us remember the years when drawings were laid out by hand on a big tilted drafting table. Drafters created a 24”x36” drawing with a mechanical pencil, an engineer checked it and marked it up, and the drafter made corrections by hand with an electric eraser. Final approved drawings were copied onto large blueprints or sepia prints. It was time consuming.

With CAD, we started doing and becoming something new.

Markups could quickly be corrected in a computer-based drawing file. The computer-generated drawings were then plotted or printed and sent to the field for construction. Although faster, the underlying workflow remained similar, substituting computers for mechanical pencils and electric erasers.

Multiple sets of drawings still accumulated. And even when they were stamped with a revision date, the latest versions could get mixed up in transfers to and from the field – perhaps in someone’s pickup truck. Many field teams got ensnared in that confusion while trying to get something done and stay on schedule. Everyone in AEC has known the delays and expense of tearing out and reinstalling something that changed on the plans without the field crew’s knowledge.

Many agree the industry has been rife with rework for too long.


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Workflow Overhaul

The underlying AEC workflow needed to change, and BIM provided a solution. The BIM process helps solve the rework problem, making the new workflow superior to simple CAD. The fact that it’s so different from CAD again requires doing and becoming something new.

The Wonder of BIM

The BIM model, a central source of truth, has extensive information about the project. Everyone with access to that model, from multiple designers to trades, can interact in the project model from the office or the field and catch design errors and clashes before they are constructed. That’s strong motivation for transitioning from CAD with AutoCAD to BIM with Revit.

Project information built into the model is kept current with software tools like those in the cloud-based common data environment of Autodesk Construction Cloud.

Even Better Models

As Fudala explains in his blog article, Revit enables structural engineers and detailers to create design reports, drawings and schedules from the 3D model more easily and quickly than from 2D designs. Thus, their designs are more efficient.

Quantities and cost estimates – another source of human error when done manually – can be determined reliably using a product like Autodesk Takeoff.

In addition, Autodesk Docs, provides a centralized, connected document management solution that can span the project lifecycle. It enables teams to organize, distribute and share files, reduce constructability issues and rework, decrease costs, as well as compress project schedules. Each project team can see and explore what the final product is modeled to look like, how its systems will function and how each portion of the project interacts with the others.

Just as CAD enriched AEC, BIM is enabling greater and higher quality production in less time – doing and becoming something new.


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