Positioning BIM for the Field

August 27, 2013

The notion of pushing BIM (building information modeling) to the jobsite has progressed, especially as technology providers continue down the road of product upgrades and acquisitions. Could this technology trend soon make its way onto your construction jobsite?

The concept behind the BIM to field movement is the data gathered and stored inside the modeling systems in the office can provide big value to workers in the field, giving them exact coordinates to make layout easier and faster. This movement is being led by some of the big construction technology providers.

Trimble Navigation, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., for example, was originally focused on the hardware side of the construction space, providing positioning systems. In the past few years, it has acquired a number of software companies including Tekla, Vico, SketchUp, and more, aimed with helping promote the concept of BIM for the Field. Trimble even launched the BIMtoField alliance with the intent to extend design data from the office to systems in the field.

Autodesk, www.autodesk.com, San Rafael, Calif., on the other hand, is taking a slightly different approach. The company, which has offered CAD (computer-aided design) and modeling technologies for years, has recently added point layout systems into its mix, enabling the trend of sending BIM to the jobsite.

Last week, the company announced two big pieces of news: It completed the acquisition of Get The Point and introduced Autodesk Point Layout, which is its new layout software for construction jobsites.

Autodesk Point Layout automatically creates points from BIM and CAD models from Autodesk Revit, Autodesk AutoCAD, and Autodesk Navisworks software. The company says point data then allows the robotic total station hardware—such as those from Topcon Positioning Systems, www.topconpositioning.com, Livermore, Calif.—to give contractors and subcontractors accuracy for placement and verification of building elements.

This not only speeds up processes, but it also enables construction companies to build more complex structures in a shorter amount of time.

Autodesk Point Layout can also be used in combination with Autodesk BIM 360 for field management and coordination. This acquisition and product release puts Autodesk in the center of the movement toward using BIM at the jobsite.

Still, while technology providers are making big moves toward offering this capability for construction companies, adoption of such technology is another story altogether with firms just beginning to develop an interest in the combined technologies. The trend is something to keep an eye on in the months ahead.