BIM Has Arrived by John Stebbins September 1 ’09
by John Stebbins
BIM has arrived? Hasn’t BIM been around for a long time?
It is true that BIM ‘authoring tools’ have been around a long time. In fact ArchiCAD has been in use world-wide for 26 years, Autodesk Revit for 10 years and Bentley’s solution has been with us a while too. I have been saying for years that BIM, in a word, means ‘Collaboration’. Historically, BIM collaboration has been based on a multitude of models and most projects have relied on several BIM models that are ‘federated’ or consolidated into one 3D environment using programs like Autodesk Navisworks or Solibri Model Checker…better than flat CAD and light tables, but still not efficient workflow.
In an open letter to the AEC vendor community, published in March 2004, the AIA Large Firm Roundtable CIO Group requested the following capabilities for “next generation” BIM technology: give project team members the capabilities of editing data simultaneously, facilitate the prevention of conflicting errors, and let changes to the project be available to users immediately. Graphisoft is the first vendor in the world to meet this challenge by bringing Next Generation BIM Technology to the marketplace.
The optimum in collaboration would be a form of real-time workflow between all project team members working IN the same model. For years, this has been the Holy Grail of BIM. With Graphisoft’s new patent pending Delta Server technology, announced as part of ArchiCAD 13, the Holy Grail of BIM – the real-time BIM Collaboration Server – has arrived.
Graphisoft has created an industry-first active server database management solution that maintains and updates the central project by passing to and from the user’s machines only the ‘delta’ or changes the users make, and in so doing, effectively achieves a real-time dynamic workflow between all members of the project team.
This execution of next generation BIM technology not only has the potential to transform how BIM projects are created and delivered, but WILL transform the way architects practice their craft. The benefits of real-time BIM Server technology can streamline the workflow of any practice, from the sole practitioner, boutique, mid-sized, or mega-firm.
Anyone on the project team can now work in real-time on a project from anywhere in the world. Team members in a remote office can work as if they were in the next cubicle. It is easy and natural to collaborate with consultants, since everyone works in the same model contributing their discipline’s building system into the model in parallel. The need for backgrounds and worries about whether you have the latest file versions disappear. FTP sites acting as ‘file depositories’ can be reduced or eliminated; any computer on the internet can now be a BIM server.
It is easy to work at home by simply logging onto the project on the office project server. There will be no need to transfer files from a desktop or file server to a laptop to work outside the office. Memory sticks and CDs are no longer needed. One can work off-line, on a plane for example and log on from one’s destination to send and receive changes. One can be in a meeting or a presentation and have access to any project, any time, via the Internet. Non-CAD users can participate directly on a project by working on the clerical sides of production like inputting project info, general notes, and other text-intensive information.
For contractors and owners, the benefits are huge. On design/build projects or Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), contractors can participate early on constructability issues. Estimating can happen on the fly. MEP and Structural Coordination can happen in real-time, starting during late schematic design and the need to do costly MEP Coordination during pre-construction by the contractor can be eliminated. Owners can participate by watching the project evolve virtually in real time via the 3D viewing capabilities built into the software. It will be easier to provide an accurate as-built BIM model during construction to hand over to the owner for operation and facilities management, since the contractor has been participating from the beginning.
A BIM Server solution the Industry has been waiting for has finally arrived from the industry veteran Graphisoft, purpose-built for real-time BIM collaboration.