Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been bubbling up into the design world for over a decade (and then some). Although some designers have grabbed on to this change happily, many are reluctant to give up their CAD work environments. Coincidentally, this isn’t any different than the industry resistance that surrounded the switch to CAD from drawing the designs out by hand.
For a lot of designers, it’s a question of what happens in the transition. The risk of falling flat on your face while learning a new design paradigm is real, and it takes a whole lot of upside to outweigh that risk.
Although that sort of thought process works in the short term, in the end it leads to a dwindling customer base hungry for higher quality work, done quicker and at a lower price. Those who fought the CAD transition are experiencing that right now, and those who fight the BIM transition will ultimately experience the same fate.
What is BIM?
For those that haven’t done a whole lot of digging into BIM yet, simply put, it’s the next evolution of computer aided design. It provides a full 3D environment to design in, and more importantly, the objects being used to design with have a list of properties associated with them that are stored as databases.
Having the information stored like this allows easy access to the data associated with each object, and as a result, the entire building. Any trade working on the design can have that data presented to them in the way that makes the most sense to their work, rather than just looking at a graphical representation of that design element.
In the end, this leads to a higher level of efficiency and lower costs while producing a superior quality of work.
Revit: What is it?
Revit is 4D BIM capable with tools to plan and track various stages in the building's lifecycle, from concept to construction and later demolition.”
Much like AutoCAD by Autodesk became the gold standard for CAD programs, Autodesk’s Revit is quickly becoming the industry go-to for BIM compliant design.
Since Revit isn’t built from the ground up for sprinkler design, there is a lot of functionality that it doesn’t offer for fire protection. The most notable missing functions are hydraulic calculations and stock listing, and for BIM projects these are absolute necessities.
Lacking these features means that a firm that gets a job with BIM requirements has a few choices:
- Design, calc and list in AutoCAD with a sprinkler add-in, import into Navisworks to do interference checking and then import into Revit to add to the BIM model. (requires AutoCAD, sprinkler add-in, Navisworks and Revit)
- Build, from scratch, a sprinkler design add-in for Revit. (requires programmers and development time)
- Use BIM design software, like AutoSPRINK.
Revit: How does AutoSPRINK handle Revit?
Although AutoSPRINK users won’t have to use Revit to work in BIM, they will still have a need in many cases to import or export files to and from Revit. To handle this, we’ve built an import/export plug-in so that AutoSPRINK can work with Revit files, as well as send files back to be opened in Revit. This process takes only as a few minutes, and because AutoSPRINK is fully BIM compliant, is only needed at the beginning and end of the process, not with each and every design change.
Trade Priority – sprinklers end up being the low man on the totem pole.
With BIM designing, most sprinkler designers have found that they are the low-man on the totem pole when it comes to trade priority. If the HVAC guy needs to put a duct right through your pipe, it just becomes your responsibility to find a way to make it work.
Often these changes come during coordination meetings. Most of the options available make it impossible to make these changes on the fly, meaning you’ll need to go back to the office to make the adjustments before the next coordination meeting… when MORE changes get thrown at you.
With AutoSPRINK, these changes can be made in minutes, if not seconds, allowing you to see other conflicts that might come up for you (or other trades) and bring them up on the spot. It even allows you to provide solutions to the problems right away, instead of waiting for the next meeting when, invariably, more conflicts will arise.
It’s undeniable that BIM is taking over. Soon, designers who are trying to piece together a 3D model from a handful of 2D, CAD based design programs will be too bogged down with importing, checking for clashes, exporting, changing, re-importing, re-checking, re-exporting (and on, and on, and on) that effectively working on BIM jobs won’t be cost effective.
Just like the ever-shrinking group of hand drawing designers, CAD designers who fight the BIM transition will find themselves altering their business model, outsourcing bigger design jobs and doing less and less actual design. At some point, it won’t be possible to design a sprinkler system without BIM compliant software.
On the other side of the same coin, designers that jump on board the BIM transition now can keep themselves ahead of the curve. Being BIM compliant now means the ability to bid with confidence on any job out there. In an industry that, by some estimates, has grown about 8% per year from 2009 through 2014 and is poised to continue growing, staying on the leading edge can be a real game-changer.
For more information about the fully BIM compliant design environment offered by AutoSPRINK, call (877) 418-8526 or check out the website.