Building Up BIM
May 26, 2011
Dan Bayer is excited about what the future holds for BIM (building information modeling). As the director of virtual construction for Miron Construction, www.miron-construction.com, Neenah, Wis., Bayer has long been an advocate for using virtual processes and technologies in construction. But it's how the industry has refocused itself around BIM that has Bayer truly excited these days.
First and foremost he sees general contractors across the country refocusing efforts to concentrate more on doing BIM in house. Whereas in years past some firms looked to outsource these efforts, he sees a trend in the industry where contractors are taking the process of BIM back in house.
Miron Construction itself is refocusing efforts, says Bayer, to conduct more internal training on the tools and systems that have helped it become a leader in its own rights for providing virtual services. In addition, Bayer keeps close tabs on industry efforts, both nationally and locally. In fact, the state of Wisconsin, in which Miron is headquartered, has shown strong support and commitment for using BIM.
Miron uses many of the products from the Autodesk portfolio, and Bayer is constantly looking at new technology, processes, and methods that will help keep the company at the forefront of innovation. The latest is exploring facilities management. It's not that Miron wants to become a facilities management provider, but rather Bayer wants to ensure the models the company is creating are helping to enable the facilities management process through easy sharing of the data model it creates as a contractor.
Miron Construction is not alone in its eye towards the future. Contractors across the country are constantly honing their software strategy as it relates to BIM.
Companies like Turner Construction Co., www.turnerconstruction.com, New York, N.Y. have taken a software-agnostic approach to its BIM strategy, which according to the company is in effort to assure it is never constrained by "tradition or precedence within an industry that is rapidly changing." This philosophy has allowed the general contractor to work with products and services that are the best tool for the job.
The most recent example comes with its deployment of SketchUp Pro. Google's 3D model authoring tool and platform will be used by Turner as part of its standard "digital toolbox" to provide BIM related services on projects worldwide. The tool seems to fit nicely into Turner's philosophy given the product’s ability to scale up and down based on the needs of the client. Perhaps most aligned with this strategy is the fact it can be used by different people at the company, including managers and field superintendents.
According to Turner, the tool will be ideally suited for such tasks as conceptual "what if" scenario cost estimating analyses, building systems constructability studies, or whole building and site models for sequencing and schedule analysis and work-in-place monitoring during construction.
Christopher Cronin of Google SketchUp, commented how the company has been impressed with the many uses and new directions that Turner found for the additional features and functions of SketchUp Pro. He adds that Google is excited to work with Turner to build on "our shared vision of the 'democratization of information' through the wide-spread deployment of SketchUp Pro."
When companies like Google continue to see the value in BIM, and visionary companies like Miron Construction and Turner Construction continue to refocus their efforts, you know it is a market that has big things on the horizon.