Geo Week News

February 8, 2012

So you love BIM - How about some as-built data?

On the face of it, this interview from Railway-Technology.com of Neil Sharpe of design studio Weston Williamson is great. Neil says things like, “I think 3D is a must” and “however many 2D drawings you get, there’s still a fairly good chance that you might miss something.”

Exactly. The benefits of BIM and 3D are nearly countless. 

But. 

I’m frankly shocked that there’s exactly zero mention of real-world data capture in the interview (this is a recurring BIM theme, though, I suppose). At this point, it’s like people are being willfully obtuse about it. Check out this Q&A:

CL: How does 3D BIM improve a project in the construction phase?

NS: Well there’s the co-ordination aspect. However many 2D drawings you get, there’s still a fairly good chance you might miss something. We do clash checks on the model at each design stage, so we pick up when there are clashes within the model. There’s a further use of the model which contracts up to now haven’t demanded from the models that we’ve produced, but with our own in-house BIM development we’re pushing it a lot more – to get automatic scheduling out and go on into construction programming using the BIM model.

Well, that’s not exactly the “construction phase” is it? Sure, you do clash detection at each design stage, but how about doing 3D data capture at each construction stage to see where there are clashes between the real-world and the design? Wouldn’t that help the construction phase? I’m sure BIM helps with the construction programming quite a bit, but think how laser scanning could make sure the programming was being adhered to in practice. 

Later, Sharpe talks about the use of tablets to take BIM out into the field. Good idea:

I think we’re also starting to see people break away from the office with the use of tablets to track models, particularly services and facilities maintenance. If you’ve got a tablet with your model and it knows where you are you can see one particular area needs maintaining every three years or whatever. Taking it out on-site and in the completed building would be useful. But the basic framework is pretty simple and we can add all sorts of stuff on to it.

But wouldn’t it be nice to scan the building periodically to see if there’s increasing deviation from the model? Is it sinking? Listing? Warping? Sure, you can input notes and such to document things that need improvement over time, but how much better to input real-world as-built data to show what you’re talking about? 

For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem like the circle is getting closed here. If 3D design data is better, wouldn’t it make sense that having 3D real-world data to compare it to would be ideal? There’s still a lot of education to be done out there (as Kevin Brederson at Pepper can attest).

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