Analysis

Manufacturers should use BIM as an opportunity to spring clean their data

23 May 2016 | By Tim Brown, Unitrunk

Manufacturers should treat digitalisation as an opportunity, says Tim Brown, national sales manager at cable management specialist, Unitrunk.

While there has been a significant focus in the construction sector on the need for BIM integration from upstream delivery partners, the design and consultancy team is equally reliant on product manufacturers to be compliant to BIM Level 2.

The emphasis for us as manufacturers has to be on two key areas: providing the right type and level of data for input into BIM models and providing the BIM object (product) in a compatible 3D image file for easy integration into the visualisation. Moreover, it’s imperative that these two requirements are fully aligned to enable the designer/consultant to input all details, including the shape, dimensions, materials etc, into the relevant model.

It’s equally important, however, that the manufacturer does not overload the data with too much detail and visual content. After all, one of the major goals of BIM is to improve efficiencies throughout the project delivery and the building’s operational lifecycle – unnecessarily large data sets from manufacturers can slow down the Revit modelling process by creating files that take too long to upload.

BIM provides an excellent opportunity for manufacturers to spring clean their data and ensure that they only provide valuable information that improves the validity of the BIM model(s) during both the build and operational phases.

For a functional element of the building design, such as cable management, that means ensuring that the data includes information that will enable a building services engineer to integrate the system into the model.

It’s worth remembering too, however, that finalising a specification in BIM is not all about the model and considerations such as environmental impact (including materials, embedded carbon, lifecycle and recyclability) should be included within the data, along with aesthetics, buildability, product availability/lead times and cost.

It’s also vital that manufacturers provide information in a BIM-ready format. We have been using Solid Edge 3D modelling software to design products for some time. For the project’s architectural and consultancy team, this means that they can input both our data and product geometry from an IFC image file straight into their model(s) without any time-consuming additional steps and without cutting and pasting from other models.

Meanwhile, developing products in 3D also creates efficiencies for us as a manufacturer, enabling visualisation of the geometries, removing the need for prototypes and optimising the use of materials.

Many manufacturers look upon BIM as an onerous requirement to invest resources in data development and have improved their in-house skills in 3D modelling. In fact, it’s an opportunity to spring clean data, ensure it is relevant and user-oriented and use IT to enhance business processes. Being BIM ready for manufacturers is simply part of a market-focused approach to operational excellence.

BIM provides an excellent opportunity for manufacturers to spring clean their data and ensure that they only provide valuable information that improves the validity of the BIM model(s) during both the build and operational phases.– Tim Brown