Evaluating and choosing among open BIM technology partners
This post is sponsored by Allplan.
Many architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms are already using building information modeling (BIM) software to model projects. Yet, finding the software solution that meets the specific needs of different firms isn’t a simple process, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
For example, for civil engineers, BIM can be used to quickly capture survey data, and improve insights and projections throughout the stages of site development. Ideally, structural engineers should look for BIM tools that easily share information and collaborate across the disciplines, and detect design errors or clashes automatically.
With a growing number of vendors offering BIM software, businesses should consider the following when evaluating technology partners:
- Health of the company: Evaluate how long the company has been in the industry, including its profitability, sustainability and stability.
- Innovation: Look to see if the company is focused on solving industry problems, bringing the industry forward and responding to critical needs from AEC companies.
- Quality: Try to evaluate if the company is an industry leader, offers relevant features and is focused on solving specific problems.
- Customer-centric: Make sure the company has the relevant industry knowledge to truly address customer needs and that it puts those first.
- Compatibility: It's critical that the solution be open BIM and work well with different types of software.
All roads lead to open BIM
To successfully adopt BIM and put better business practices in place with architecture, engineering and construction firms, an open standard throughout the industry is crucial. Having open standards allows software from one company to communicate with every other piece of software, including that of competitors.
An example of this is the Nemetschek Group, founded in 1963 by Professor Georg Nemetschek. The company develops open BIM solutions for a variety of users. The 16 brands operate independently and focus on digitizing the AEC industry.
With 67 locations and about 4 million users around the world, they are paving the way as pioneers and industry leaders. Their core product, Allplan, is an open BIM software that optimally supports the seamless planning and construction of buildings in terms of quality, cost and time investment.
At all stages of the construction process, digital information and documentation is seamlessly shared with all involved since software integrates with others, improving efficiencies and workflows. Open BIM solutions increase quality in the building process and boost collaboration, improving efficiency and minimizing expenses.
For example, 3D BIM designs can be loaded into 2D computer-aided design (CAD) software already on the architect or designer's desktop. Superior solutions have a familiar CAD interface that makes them easy to use, increasing adoption across the organization and generating returns on investment. When the project model is updated, so are the deliverables. This 3D model-based drawing is more accurate, updates automatically and reduces the margin for error.
Breaking through bottlenecks and improving workflows
Consider the example of modeling the use, placement and acquisition of rebar in a project. Even today, much of the process it is still 2D drafting, which can increase the risk of error when values are manually input or transferred. BIM solutions like Allplan allow that work to be fully automated, while adding the precision and data continuity that comes with modeling in 3D.
Other strengths of BIM solutions are the extent to which they allow a designer or planner to perform parametric modeling. The ability to change myriad lines, holes and tolerances throughout the form whenever a dimension value is modified is crucial. Even complex geometries with high level of detail, such as adding lampposts or anchor devices of tendons to a bridge model, can be easily created with the right BIM solution. The position of these objects should automatically adjust whenever changes are made to the model.
Not only that, but many AEC firms might use more than one software program for different projects. Having a tool such as Allplan is valuable in these situations, as it can integrate with other BIM software without creating bottlenecks or requiring the user to recreate the model or drawings in more than one program.
Integration across platforms may seem simple, yet many solutions have hidden constraints. It's important to ask questions during the diligence phase to make sure the technology is completely understandable and it’s clear how it will work across the organization.
Questions to ask when considering technology partners include:
- Does the software have open workflows and work across different solutions?
- Is there investment in research and development?
- How will return on investment be measured?
- What level of support will be offered as the solution is integrated into the organization?
- Is there a recent customer who can address challenges and how they were solved?
- What is the response to industry changes and shifting demands?
While there are many technology partners out there, they're not all created equal. Be sure to thoroughly research companies and their product offerings to make sure the solution is open and can integrate into any preexisting CAD software already in use.
Taking this time to find the right partner can save time and money down the line.
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For more than 50 years, Allplan has pioneered the digitalization of the construction industry. Always focused on clients, Allplan provides innovative tools to design, construct and manage projects - inspiring users to realize their visions. With seamlessly integrated BIM solutions, Allplan connects all project stakeholders.
The open BIM platform Allplan Bimplus supports all disciplines to collaborate efficiently in projects. BIM model data, documents and tasks are managed centrally over the complete building lifecycle.
Headquartered in Munich, Germany, Allplan is part of the Nemetschek Group.