One of the most common questions we get from our Fabrication clients & our Construction clients is "BIM & modeling is great. But how can I take that knowledge & information and apply it to construction?" This blog will attempt to tackle that question. View the video above to see a demo of this workflow.
Step 1: Model & Fabrication
Let's start in Fab CAD MEP. You'll want to design & model your system like usual, leveraging your materials database along the way.
Once you have modeled everything and in most cases completed coordination of a floor, segment, or building, you'll likely start creating spools and creating shop drawings for your pipe spools, duct systems, mechanical equipment (VAVs, AHUs, Pumps, etc.). So far your workflow hasn't changed at all - this is how you're already doing things most likely.
Once you have setup your pipe spools, duct systems, etc., that's where our Fab2BIM360 add-in comes in. It's quick and easy to use. Just click on the button in your Add-Ins ribbon and hit "Prep for Spooling." The tool automatically preps the geometry for export to BIM 360 by creating block geometry. Next, hit the Glue button to send the updated file to BIM 360 Glue. The image below shows some of the Attributes we want to move from CAD MEP to Glue.
So what exactly did we just do? Quite simply, we captured & sent important metadata to Glue (and later to BIM 360 Field) that would have otherwise been lost. The out-of-the box export to Glue lumps all of your custom properties into one line item, rendering it unsearchable; but our Fab2BIM360 add-in creates a completely new set of properties that can be uniquely searched, sorted & filtered in BIM 360. So important data, such as pipe length, weight, cost, Fab Type, service type, etc., that Fab CADMEP captures & automates from your database can be captured, viewed & leveraged later on during construction. And if there's something unique that you need to track, our software can help label & track it!
Step 2: Coordination & BIM 360 Glue
If you build your models in Fab CAD MEP, hopefully you're also further leveraging the power your 3D model by using Navisworks, BIM 360 Glue, or a combination of the two during the coordination process.
We suggest you use BIM 360 Glue for a number of reasons. When I was a BIM Coordinator, there were two reasons / excuses I heard as to why clashes weren't solved within a given week. The first excuse was because the subcontractor was waiting to see what another contractor did at a certain location. The second reason was because they didn't have Navisworks & couldn't view my clashes, viewpoints, markups, etc.
BIM 360 Glue solves both of these problems because everyone on the team has access to the most up-to-date model, and also in our little exercise here, it empowers us further. How? You can create Equipment Sets that will help us categorize the data that our Fab2BIM360 add-in stored in our blocked geometry. The image below shows the Attributes that transferred from our CAD MEP file to Glue.
Why is this important? The current Equipment Set process can be difficult - you have to search through a ton of attributes to find the perfect fit for your specific item or group of items. But our Fab2BIM360 add-in creates a new menu in BIM 360 Glue which gives more customization, and we even added a specific line item into our Attributes called "FabType." This attribute makes it easy to categorize anything using Equipment Sets - spools, mechanical equipment, duct systems, pumps, or even non-MEP assets like doors, curtain wall panels, etc.
Step 3: Construction, Procurement & BIM 360 Field
So coordination is complete on your project. That's great! But how do you further utilize that model that you spent all that time creating fabrication data, coordinated meticulously, modeled ever so accurately, and put time, effort, and built information into? This is a major issue in the construction industry because the people out in the field don't often leverage the power of the model out in the field. But why is that?
We ask our clients this all the time. And their response is usually one of these two: (1) "We don't trust the model in the field because it doesn't have the information we need in it," or (2) "our Field team isn't comfortable navigating the model in the field." I'm sure your field staff shares atleast one of these opinions.
Here's how BIM 360 Field & our Fab2BIM360 add-in attempts to combat these issues:
1) We teach our clients to utilize barcode technology. It's already built-in to BIM 360 Field and is easily attachable to the pieces of Equipment that we've been adding data to throughout this whole process. And it's even easier to create & place the barcode stickers on each piece of equipment or asset. Reference the barcode sticker above - it was created using Avery Label Templates, printed out & placed on the equipment. One scan of the barcode (or QR code in this case), will automatically bring up the exact asset in BIM 360 Field. From there, you can fill out a Commissioning checklist, attach a photo, sign-off or change the status, or even view the properties (that came over from CAD MEP & Glue)!
2) By adding barcodes & also adding the Attributes in CAD MEP & carrying them over to Glue & ultimately to BIM 360 Field, your model can have whatever data your field team needs. Do they need the length, weight or cost of that item? That's already built in! Do they need to confirm the elevation for installation? We can help you add that in. Do you need something else that is unique to your company that you track? We can help with that too! You can even view the item in the model quickly and painlessly - you don't even have to navigate.
The point is this: this process will help your team & other project stakeholders such as foremen, GCs, VDC teams, Owners & consultants, etc., build confidence in and become more comfortable with the model.
Too Long, Didn't Read (TL; DR):
So what's the point of all this? The total construction workflow, from Fabrication to Coordination to Construction & eventually to Owner Turnover is easier to accomplish than ever with our Fab2BIM360 add-in.
The Fab2BIM360 add-in helps simplify the transfer of information from one software to another. It creates blocks & attaches valuable information in the form of Attributes to your model, expediting the transfer of information, eliminating double-entry & the mistakes or omissions associated with it. It's a huge time-saver, it builds confidence in the model & ensures accuracy, and helps disseminate information clearly & concisely.