Bird powers up BIM capability with Autodesk’s Dynamo

Global engineering consultancy Robert Bird Group is using Autodesk’s Dynamo Studio to audit its BIM models.

Dynamo is an open source graphical programming environment for design. It extends building information modelling with the data and logic environment of a graphical algorithm editor, which users can “script” to suit their own requirements.

The script Bird has created using the software primarily checks against internal standards as well as flagging up errors in modelling such as duplicate elements. The software also collects a host of information about the productivity and accuracy of staff producing the BIM models.

Michael Forrest, BIM manager, based in the London Bridge office, says: “An important part of our BIM strategy is the validation and auditing of our BIM geometry models. This has traditionally been a very analogue process of running through company standard compliance checklists and checking the model error logs for duplicate elements, naming compliance and so on.

“This process can easily take half a day and is therefore normally done at key model sharing stages. I wanted to resolve this, I believe every shared model should be audited for quality to minimise errors and part of our BIM delivery QA – enter Dynamo.”

Forrest says he used the existing paper-based checklists as guidance and then set about automating them with Dynamo, which proved easier than he expected. He then created an interface to display the results.

The script Bird has created using the software primarily checks against internal standards

“The interface sits as a shared spreadsheet on the server with some simple scripts which clear the data when it’s closed. Anyone in our organisation can then run the audit with no user input required simultaneously from Dynamo and print the results when a model is issued,” explains Forrest.

“The hope is that as Dynamo evolves we can automate more and more checks on our models before they are shared on the common data environment,” he adds.

“The audit is complete within a minute, a time saving of easily a couple of hours from the traditional process. This means every model that leaves our office has been audited and is required to pass a certain base level of quality control before Document Control will issue models externally.

This automated audit process has been running efficiently for over a year, says Forrest. “I wanted a way of capturing all of the model data we were accessing so I set about adapting the script so as a final step of the audit all of the data was exported to a database. 

“Having all of this model data allows us to run useful metrics to give an overview of model health throughout the organisation, the hope is as artificial intelligence becomes more mainstream we can use this data to help produce increasingly accurate resource and costing estimates.”

The Robert Bird Group employs 600 employees across 10 offices operates in five disciplines – structural engineering, civil engineering, geotechnical and virtual design and construction and construction engineering. Current projects in the London portfolio include 100 Bishopsgate and Phase 3 of Battersea Power Station.

Global projects include Dubai’s ICD Brookfield Place tower, Melbourne’s Australia 108 residential tower and Sydney’s One Central Park tower and Darling Harbour Live development.  

Earlier this year Bird became part of the global network of Singapore-based urban, industrial and infrastructure consulting business Surbana Jurong.

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