Coordinating designers and trades is consistently identified as the highest value BIM workflow among general contractors, subcontractors and fabricators. Coordinated, multidisciplinary data (often accessed in construction software like BIM 360) is a core requirement for many workflows that span the project lifecycle, including design, quantification, scheduling, fabrication and on-site layout, installation and commissioning.
A well-coordinated project can result in many millions of dollars saved and a project that stays on schedule. But, the typical coordination process can be costly.
In fact, this is why the largest conference table in the trailer is often referred to as the most expensive item on a job site. Because every week that table is filled with very talented and very busy people for hours at a time, all trying to make sure that potential problems with the design or constructability of the design are identified and resolved before they are built.
Let’s look at three ways that managing project information in a Common Data Platform like BIM 360 can improve the BIM Coordination process, saving time and money, and resulting in a more constructable design.
1. Democratizing BIM Coordination - Many hands make quick work
A typical coordination cycle centers around a VDC or BIM manager at the general contractor. This person gathers multi-discipline data on behalf of the project team, finds coordination issues (or clashes), groups those clashes, assigns ownership and manages the process of resolution. This process works, but the VDC/BIM manager is a potential bottleneck.
If BIM 360 is being used as a common data platform for the project, all models are published to a single, cloud repository. This opens the door to an ability to add a layer of automation that allows a broader set of project stakeholders to participate in coordination processes.
Instead of waiting for a VDC/BIM manager to compile all of the models, find clashes and assign them for resolution, this can all happen in real-time as model versions are published. Here’s how it looks:
- All multi-discipline models are stored to a folder in BIM 360
- As models are published, clash detection is run automatically, resulting in a view of clash results across all models in the folder
- The publishers of models can immediately see the impact of changes to the set of coordinated models, allowing them to take action as soon as a change occurs.
Democratize your BIM Coordination process by pushing models to a single cloud repository
This “democratization of coordination” will bring more accountability to model authors, while reducing the strain on VDC and BIM teams at contractors. This also allows those VDC and BIM teams at the contractor to become less of a “traffic cop” and more of an expert to guide facilitation and troubleshooting, and focus more on pre-empting problems and identifying trends.
2. Removing Noise - When a clash isn’t a clash
With more project stakeholders taking an ownership role in the BIM coordination process, it is more important than ever to keep everyone focused on the items that matter. To address this, we’ve introduced a coordination workflow in BIM 360 that we call Not an Issue.
The 'Not an Issue' workflow is exactly what it sounds like. As models are published, the list of clashing objects is generated automatically. These clashes are grouped by model and object type, and clearly displayed in a list. As these clashes are reviewed, the team will determine if individual clashes, or groups of clashes, need to be addressed or not.
For example, lights that are purposefully embedded into a set of cast-in-place stairs may be identified as a potential clash. This is not a clashing object, but is an item that will be addressed during construction. With the Not an Issue workflow, the clashing objects can be identified and removed from the list of clashes.
Once identified in the Not an Issue workflow, the clash will not re-appear as further model iterations are published. This helps all project stakeholders focus their attention on the clashing object that have to be dealt with -- reducing noise.
Clashes can be reviewed so the team can determine whether individual clashes, or groups of clashes, need to be addressed
3. Resolving clashes - Speeding up the clash resolution process
Of course, there are many times when a clash is, in fact, a clash. In these cases, BIM 360 offers a robust issue workflow and 3D pushpins to communicate the problem, assign an owner and track the status of the issue to resolution.
As the project team reviews the list of clashes, they can easily drill down into the clashing objects in BIM 360’s large model viewer to identify what the problem is and determine what needs to be done to address it. Measurements can be added to the model to provide context into the proposed fix, and detailed instructions can be included in the Issue dialog box as recommended fixes.
With an issue assigned, team members are notified of the issue, and can respond with comments and move the status of the issue, from open to answered. The model changes can then be reviewed and the issue closed out when the clash is resolved.
Speed up the clash resolution process with a robust issue workflow to communicate the problem and assign an owner
Adding automation to the BIM coordination process with construction software like BIM 360 can offer significant advantages over a typical coordination workflow -- real-time identification of coordination issues as models are published, reducing the noise of items that are not clashes, and simple, traceable resolution of coordination issues.
The coordination process is never going to be completely automated, and there are many areas of coordination that still need the expertise of a VDC or BIM manager, as well as powerful desktop coordination and preconstruction tools like Navisworks for more complex workflows.
But the benefits of supporting coordination workflows in BIM 360 are clear: more involvement of all project stakeholders -- earlier in the project and with controlled access to the information they need -- will keep the project team in sync, and constructable models in place without the bottlenecks that currently exist.