Sigma Estimates: Unlocking the Source of 5D Construction Technology

October 26, 2018 Magnus Therkildsen

End-to-end BIM is more than WHAT we build. To deliver on the BIM promise of efficiency, resource optimization and quality, the process must support HOW we build. Which means that the BIM/VDC process must move from the conceptual and design phase and into preconstruction and field execution utilizing powerful construction technology.

In this new territory for full BIM execution, we need data for Planning, Purchasing, Subcontracting, Cost Management and information for Project Close Out. This means adding the layer of 5D BIM, and the challenge is how to find the source of this information and how to connect that source to the BIM workflow.



Adding the 5D data to the BIM workflow gets the project off to a flying start


The Estimator is the Source of 5D Construction Technology

Every day inside construction companies, estimators are working to understand the entirety of a project, so they can submit successful and profitable bids. Accuracy is a key to that success, as is understanding how the project is to be built. The estimator drills down into the plans and specs and must understand the project and all its details, such as work activities and durations, site logistics, labor availability, production rates, design and production quantities, equipment, materials, lead times, lay down areas, permitting, local regulations, etc. With this information the estimator can uncover the best and most cost-effective construction plan. He will also uncover risk scenarios that could jeopardize the cost or timing of the project and account for them. In the end, he makes difficult decisions knowing the various options, risk factors, and inherit cost.

This makes the estimator, often with 10 to 30 years experience, the direct source of how the project is to be constructed and therefore also the source for the 5D data that can deliver valuable input for the Planning, Purchasing, Quality Assurance and Cost Management.


The Challenge of bringing the Estimator into BIM

Estimating the correct project cost is a task with potential dire consequences if not done well. It can severely cripple a company’s financial position, and even close it down. This puts enormous stress on the estimator. Added to this stress is a never-ending incoming flow of new projects to be estimated, many with hard bid dates.

The challenge of taking the estimator away from his normal workflows and tools can therefore be difficult, and understandably so. However, leading construction companies have successfully brought estimators into the BIM workflow without interruption or added risk. Being part of the BIM workflow can bring the estimator a new efficiency that also enhances accuracy. For example, apart from bringing valuable information forward into the field, BIM transparency provides information and knowledge from the field execution of the estimate that is easily relayed back to the estimator to improve on future estimates and projects.


The Key to the 5D source

There are many ways to approach adding ‘the right tools’ to the workflow. As one of Autodesk’s integration partners, we at Sigma Estimates have worked with BIM and VDC for over 15 years, building the principles of BIM into solutions from the beginning. We have identified key aspects of how to make 5D BIM work throughout all construction phases, from concept to project close-out.

The key to connecting estimating to the BIM workflow is to make sure it does not disrupt the estimator’s daily life and his ability to deliver on bids. Additionally, the estimator needs to be truly part of the BIM workflow and not just regarded as a black-box that gets model quantities delivered without regard for how it fits into 5D BIM. The key is therefore to introduce a real 5D BIM estimating tool that replaces the spreadsheet or the old legacy estimating system, both of which are disconnected tools that require too much maintenance and too many work arounds for an error free and smooth BIM process to happen.

Four important factors are required of a modern 5D BIM estimating tool that can evolve and keep pace with the changing technology:

  •    A familiar and user-friendly interface is needed to make the switch trouble-free and to make sure all skill levels and roles can use the tool successfully. Therefore, a modern user interface for estimators means an Excel like user interface on top, with a built-in data structure hidden beneath with the database.
  •    A platform for all roles and disciplines. Making data available for all is a vital part of BIM and this also transfers to the 5D workflow. The tool not only needs to support all trades and disciplines of estimating, but also needs to deliver transparency for other project team members to utilize the valuable 5D information.
  •    Configurable and flexible are important qualities so the tool can fit into the company’s specific workflows and setup. This means having the ability to adapt to regulations, company standards, project requirements etc. All performed in the same tool, so all team members are able to share and have access to the source data.
  •    Integrations and an Open API ensure a smooth data flow with a direct and real-time connected live link. For example, a live link integration to the 3D model means that the 3D and 5D model is updated and viewed simultaneously. The construction industry is changing fast and will continue so for many years still. The ability to adopt and develop new integrations with an open API to other solutions outside the 5D estimating has significant impact on long-term viability of the solution and workflows.


The source and key to 5D BIM is implementing the right tool


Want to learn more?

There are plenty of ways to acquaint yourself with better estimating and 5D BIM. 


Connect at Autodesk University 2018!

If you want to learn more, there is no better place than AU2018 in Las Vegas; it’s only a few weeks away! Among the many classes to learn from and exhibitors to meet and gain insights from, you can meet Sigma at the following venues.

Autodesk University 2018

Learn More!


Check out the following ways to connect with Sigma Estimates at AU 2018

1. Connect & Construct Summit

Join us to explore keys to unlock better workflows and get actionable advice that you can bring back to your team and implement on projects for immediate result.

Preconstruction and Layout: Featuring Assemble, Sigma Estimates

@ Monday, Nov 12, 10:30 AM

2. Connect & Construct Summit Theater

The future of construction is here and it’s more digital, more diverse, and more dynamic than ever. The Theater at Connect & Construct Summit is your chance for a deep dive into more technical talks exploring real life workflows, demo’s and specialist talks.

Join Sigma @ 3 pm for a hands-on view on how to leverage Sigma’s unrivaled live integrations with BIM360 and Revit to empower BIM Field Execution through Estimating data. You’ll see how to perform easy 3D quantity takeoff for an estimate with a few clicks.

@ Monday, Nov 12, 3 PM

3. Time for questions at the Community MeetUp

The Community Meetups at AU will allow attendees to come and talk to experts in the Construction Hub.  Meet thought leaders on 5D BIM, estimating and VDC workflows from Sigma Estimates in the QA session Connecting Design & Construction

@ Tuesday, Nov 13. 3PM

Still considering if you can make it to AU2018?

Get a glimpse of some of the elements to be explored with 5D BIM in this on-demand webinar with Sigma Estimates and Autodesk BIM 360;

Webinar – Sigma Estimates + Autodesk BIM 360

OR visit Sigma Estimate’s website to learn more:


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