Technology

BIM software improves data interrogation and cuts costs

14 July 2020 | By Stephen Cousins

A prototype BIM software designed to enable building owners and project managers to extract more insights from project data now has 120 users in the UK and 4,000 worldwide.

Bimspot is a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform, created by a team of former architects and BIM consultants, to provide a holistic view of projects with a range of tools to track progress, measure key performance indicators and check the validity of data.

The platform is software agnostic, using the IFC file format to federate models from designers and contractors to create a comprehensive “building database” that is used to drive integrated project decision making.

The beta release has a total of around 4,000 users worldwide, the majority of them based in Nordic countries, including Norway and Denmark, the Netherlands, plus Brazil and the US.

Alexander Grass, product manager at Bimspot, told BIM+: “We came up with the idea of switching the industry to a more data-driven form of decision-making that would help a building owner extract more value from BIM during design, construction and the operation phases ... We’re opening up a new market based on data-driven project insights and a move away from inaccurate or incomplete files that are currently sent between project teams, which make project decisions less reliable.”

Grass claims the software can help construction projects reduce costs associated with design errors, which some studies have estimated can account for 12% of overall project costs. “Errors are generated by low-quality planning and wrong decisions, which are both areas that Bimspot can improve,” he said.

Bimspot includes a model management interface where users upload all BIM models for architecture, structural engineering and MEP etc, to create a federated model of the entire building. The upload process is currently manual, but plug-ins are being developed to sync IFC models with the platform in real time, starting with a plug-in for Revit due to launch in upcoming months.

Three-step process

A three-step process is designed to help BIM managers/project managers guarantee the quality of models.

Information requirements templates set out the specific information required for each phase of the project and who is responsible for delivering it. An automated real-time information checker tracks the information level and issues notifications if any is missing.

Clash and integrity checks perform functions similar to Solibri or Navisworks to ensure the geometric quality of models and identify changes between individual versions.

Finally, a machine learning algorithm, currently in development, will detect any incongruities in building elements and how they are defined and labelled. If any information is missing, the precise position of the element is highlighted.

“People might be used to working with Revit, Tekla or ArchiCAD etc, but when they export to IFC a lot of the information can be lost, partly due to a lack of experience among modellers. Our system aims to prevent that from happening,” says Grass.

The three data quality assurance processes ensure the integrity of the building database used to view and interrogate BIM information.

The database features data filtering used to search for specific information, for example highlighting only the load-bearing elements, or only the walls. A KPI dashboard enables the project manager to keep strategic goals in focus, for example recording the amount of office or residential space completed and if it is on track or falling behind.

Bimspot is currently in beta testing, but the professional version is expected to go live in a few weeks. A basic account is expected to cost €300 per month, which allows users to build the equivalent of a medium sized residential building. More complex projects will pay an additional cost based on the number of geometric model elements in the database.

The company has ambitions to become a data hub for construction and is planning to launch an open API so its data can be exploited to tools used for planning, cost estimation and other purposes.