If you are designing in 3D, and creating 3D models, you are already preparing and collecting the sort of information you will need to satisfy BIM requirements.
Any form of parametric modelling, the tools that allow you to define a wall with its characteristic composition, thickness and height, and then to drag and drop in a window, necessitates the creation of objects that have a certain amount of information associated with them. By extending that amount of information, and there are no practical limits to how much information you can attach to a BIM object, you can make it useful to others.
Some experts believe it is best to get IT sorted early on, so that companies can then concentrate on the processes. Instead of giving the task to the IT manager, the initiative must originate at senior management and board level, so that everyone understands the significance and importance of the project – and will be prepared to ‘buy into it’ – if they value their careers. Then you can choose your BIM champions, starting with a senior director or partner with overall responsibility, and BIM champions for each office or speciality.
Training is an emotive issue. You need to train up your staff so that when you start your first live BIM project, they are ‘up to scratch’ and not having to learn on the job – you will find that your partners on a project will not appreciate you taking your first steps on their time. Conversely, you don’t want to train too early, as you don’t want a highly trained group of people twiddling their thumbs waiting for the first BIM project – and having to be sent on refresher courses when it comes along.
It is also preferable to dive into BIM on a pilot project – one that is not too complex, and with a client who is quite happy for both of you to share the learning process. The project needs to be representative of those that you normally work on, so that it will raise the sort of issues that you will need to learn from.
Part of the education process for your company will either be the introduction, or enforcement of processes and standards, to ensure that everybody models in the same way – absolutely essential if you want to share models not just around the office, but with the rest of the project team. Happily, there are protocols already available to assist – such as AEC (UK) BIM Protocols or those that should now be available from the UK BIM Task Group.
BIM are you ready?
Excerpts from BIM Are you Ready? a CAD User publication, in association with Graphisoft.