BIM coordination can be hard, but it is worth it. Coordinating designers and trades is consistently identified as the highest value BIM workflow among general contractors, subcontractors and fabricators.
Coordinated, multidisciplinary data 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 3 ways using software can improve the BIM Coordination process, saving you time and resulting in a much more constructable design.
1. Democratizing BIM Coordination - Many hands make quick work
A traditional coordination cycle centers around a single person, usually the VDC/BIM manager at the general contractor who uses specialized software like Navisworks to carry out the coordination process. This one individual is responsible for gathering data from each discipline, uploading it into their software, aggregating it, running clash detection, identifying issues, manually assigning ownership, distributing the clash model or reports, and managing the process through resolution. Yes, this process works, but it’s cumbersome, prone to human error, and limits the number of issues that can be reviewed and resolved before construction begins.
If BIM 360 is used, all models are published to a single cloud-based repository. This not only opens the door to add a layer of automation to the clash detection process but allows a broader set of stakeholders to participate in coordination efforts due to easy accessibility. When models are published or updated in BIM 360 clash detection runs automatically allowing all stakeholders to identify and resolve clashes on their own. What used to be a lengthy process is cut down into a matter of minutes, significantly reducing the number of “small” issues that typically make it on-site. Here’s how it works:
All multi-discipline models are stored in a central folder in BIM 360. As models are published, clash detection runs automatically, and a list of clashes between objects (that are automatically grouped using BIM data) are presented in a clash matrix ready for review.
All stakeholders can immediately review and start resolving their clashes or assign issues to other team members for review.
When new model versions are uploaded teams can quickly see the impact the changes, allowing them to take action as soon as a change occurs.
Harness the power of the cloud to democratize your BIM Coordination process
This “democratization of coordination” brings 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
Putting coordination efforts into the hands of all stakeholders allows them to bring their expertise to the process while also helping to reduce noise. Knocking out the issues that don’t need to occupy time during coordination meetings. One way BIM 360 makes this possible is with the Not an Issue workflow.
The 'Not an Issue' workflow is exactly what it sounds like. As models are published, the list of clashing objects generates automatically. Using BIM data, the clashes are automatically grouped by model, object, system name or type and displayed in a list. As these clashes are reviewed, teams can 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 as Not an Issue, the clash will not re-appear as further model iterations are published. This helps all project stakeholders focus their attention on clashes that have to be dealt with -- reducing noise.
Using BIM 360 to automate to the BIM coordination process provides significant advantages over a typical coordination workflow
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 to communicate the problem. As clashes are reviewed, teams can assign a single clash or group of clashes to an owner.
With the clash assigned an email notification is sent to the assignee, allowing them to access the issue directly. They can then view details, respond with comments, include attachment, and update the issue status. The model changes can then be reviewed and the issue closed out when the clash is resolved. This seamless issue management workflow increasing accountability and transparency in the resolution process.
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.