Brainstorming solutions to BIM implementation challenges – What hardware do you really need?

April 22, 2013 |
Sasha Reed

As you are well aware, BIM is steadily gaining momentum here in the US and abroad.  In fact just this week I read a press release about a major city agency standardizing their BIM practices. You know as well as I do that when a city or municipality starts talking about standardizing on "future technologies," critical mass isn't far behind.

Yet even as more and more owners, agencies and firms are turning to BIM, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that many of these organizations are still struggling with BIM implementation. Case in point – I recently received an email from an engineer who follows this blog. He suggested that I devote some time discussing a common challenge faced by BIM adopters – the fact that implementing BIM often means an organization finds the need to invest in more powerful hardware. After all, if you’re building your BIM model to contain all the information necessary to have a meaningful discussion, you’re going to need a hefty computer to run it all smoothly. And these added costs can make BIM implementation extremely expensive, and even delay adoption for some organizations.

Yet this engineer’s suggestion was not to spec out hardware requirements for running BIM. Instead, he proposed that users only serve up the parts of the model they need, when they need them, therefore allowing computer specifications to be dictated by the work a specific individual does with the model. This reader’s solution made me wonder if this was still BIM or just the “M” of BIM.  He argued that it was definitely still BIM since his solution wasn’t removing BIM data, but offering a more efficient way of visualizing it.

All of this “model” talk was a bit heady for me, so I had to call in reinforcements to help me really understand how the industry is tackling this challenge.  I posed the scenario to an industry friend whose company specializes in BIM rollout for owners and firms.  We’ve had many conversations regarding BIM and PDF and the relationship between the two.  He explained that the AIA offers a BIM protocol exhibit (E202) acting as a template to allow parties to determine the varying level of detail (LOD) required for their specific project.  They determine upfront who is responsible for what and to the engineer’s point, leverage advancements in programs like Revit to view only what they need, when they need it.  This point really resonated with me. After all, I’m always quick to point out that when it comes to communicating BIM data downstream to those on the jobsite, PDF and especially 3D PDFs, are a great tool for sharing relevant information in an easy to consume manner.

So with all of this in mind, I am now coming to you for your opinions and expertise. How are you managing the challenges of hardware limitations? What other challenges are you facing in the quest for a better project deliverable via BIM?  Do you care to add your two cents to this discussion?

Sasha Reed | Digital COM
Bluebeam Software

About the Author: Sasha Reed has over 12 years of experience working directly in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. As VP of Strategic Alliances at Bluebeam Software, Sasha interacts directly with AEC leaders to better understand the long-range goals of the industry and help align Bluebeam’s technology partnerships. In addition, Sasha is acting Chair of the Construction PDF Coalition.  The purpose of the Coalition is to establish Guidelines to provide Architects, Engineers, Constructors and Owners (AECO) with a common framework in which to create and maintain Construction PDF Documents. Sasha has been featured as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Bentley Florida User Group and spoken at numerous industry events including the American Institute of Architects’ DesignDC Conference, NTI Danish BIM Conference, the International Highway Engineering Exchange Program and the International Facilities Management Association Conference. Sasha has also contributed articles to numerous national publications and authors the Digital Com blog for Building Design + Construction magazine. Before Bluebeam, Sasha was a Project Manager for M3, a Herman Miller dealer, where she learned ?rsthand the challenges faced by the AEC industry from project conception to completion. 

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