BIM + spoke to computer scientist Jozef Doboš to find out more about BID4Free, cloud-based software that will allow specialist subcontractors to preview BIM models for free to design and price their bids, set to launch next year.
Where did the idea for BID4Free come from?
AIS FPDC (the Association of Interior Specialists & Federation of Plastering and Drywall Contractors) decided that they needed a piece of software to help subcontractors with the tendering process. They were keen to make sure that tendering could be BIM enabled so they invited several software vendors to come up with solutions.
What is BID4Free?
We are building an open source web-based tendering software as an extension to our online BIM common data environment. This will allow anyone to tender on a BIM project, on any machine or tablet in any browser, without having to download or pay for software licences.
How unique is the software?
Proprietary desktop-based takeoff and tendering solutions exist, but there is nothing that integrates 3D models with specification, and certainly nothing that includes tendering. What we are doing is complex, it hasn’t been done before, it’s cutting edge technology.
Who will pay for this software?
Everything we create at 3DRepo is open source so there will not be a charge to use the software. All Tier 1 contractors will pay for is hosting on the 3D Repo server. It can be hosted in the cloud, or on their own servers. We expect to support ourselves through selling services as well as maintaining and hosting the application. What is certain is that the end users, the subcontractors, will not have to pay to use the application.
How easy is the software to use? Will subcontractors need training?
The subcontractors will not need any training. This will allow them to use BIM and the good promises of a digital world, without any pain. If my mum can use it, anyone can.
When will BID4Free be available to contractors?
We have already created and tested with members of AIS FPDC the very first mock up. Over the next year we will develop a fully-fledged tendering software, then test it on projects alongside traditional tendering. By March 2016 we anticipate that it will be in a fully deployable state.
Why would subcontractors use the program?
The software is built for subcontractors. BIM encourages them have to improve the way they are working. If individual subcontractors don’t jump on the BIM bandwagon, they may not realise it now, but they will be left behind. Slowly their clients will look elsewhere. They need to put a sign up saying that they are BIM enabled to ensure that they get work – BID4Free will allow all subcontractors to do this, very easily and free of charge. We hope that this will allow a simple transition to working in a BIM environment suitable for people not accustomed to working with CAD tools.
What are the advantages for Tier 1 contractors of BID4Free?
Balfour Beatty estimated that the software could save £14.2m a year on its projects by eliminating the time wasted by people requesting and exchanging information as all the data will be in one place. It will also reduce mistakes as the system will validate the tendering submissions for completeness and non-obvious errors. A simple traffic light system will be in place to show what stage each element is at and how many subcontractors costed it already, all in fully encrypted confidentiality, of course.