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Sharing BIM with your Construction Team February 19, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software.
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The pervasiveness of BIM has proved to bring complexity in communications for extended construction team mebers. Especially those with limited expertise in Revit, Navisworks, etc. There are numerous ways to share models with owners, architects and major specialty contractors but what do you do to make it easier for the other subcontractors and suppliers?

BIM in a Browser
One way to allow viewing of your project BIM views is in a browser. The 4Projects project management solution has mastered this approach.

The limitation is that all team members must be using 4Projects. Obviously this works well when you have committed to that solution for all you projects, but 4Projects is not widely used in the United States. This will change overtime, especially with the acquisition by Viewpoint Construction Software. [Disclosure: I am a Viewpoint Business Development Partner]

Render 3D BIM in a PDF
Another solution is to share your model using Bluebeam Revu CAD. This offers advantages in that you can apply markups for a BIM expert to address in the model, or that other collaborators can answer by applying markups of their own. Coordination becomes easy with the ability to copy a specific area with a section box export instead of a full page 3D. Grabbing the view and copy to the clipboard in Revit or select the section in Navisworks.

You can drop 3D models into a PDF to make it quick to reply to RFIs and giving anyone that receives the PDF the ability to navigate through the model. The model tree remains available and the markups are embedded into the 3D model. A Bluebeam markup will actually float thru the model if the viewer decides to change their perspective as a markup indicator (blue sphere). Other’s using Bluebeam can add their own markups, answer questions and interact with the model. The clipping plane in Bluebeam is also handy when you need to view the interior or do a walk thru. A summary of 2D and 3D markups are a great way for sharing these markups with the novice BIM user or less technical subcontractors and construction team members. A picture remains the best way to explain construction issues. Making it simple for others to work with you will keep the project on time and under budget.

Web Collaboration with the BIM Novice
Web collaboration in a Studio session allows all you to invite subcontractors to the preconstruction review. With Bluebeam Studio the 3D markups can be viewed and annotated by your subcontractors without the subcontractor or other construction team members needing to buy a Bluebeam license. Just email an invite and anyone or any team can be working together with up to 100 people marking up the same document simultaneously. With Bluebeam’s markup list you can look at all the activity, view it by author, sort it by trade, etc. And have a full set of documentation distributed to all participants without worrying about missing anything or having someone change another authors work.

As a Bluebeam Partner, I’m here to answer your questions and would be happy to invite you to our next webinar. Let me know by requesting your invitation now.

How do you share your models with the less sophisticated specialty contractor or the novice owner? Keep this discussion going with your workarounds and solutions in the comments.

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Construction Operations: Field and Office Silos February 6, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, construction accounting software, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
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Construction Technology has managed to move faster in the last 5 years than in the past 100 with innovation in Operations, communications and collaboration leading the way. This pace will continue as construction project managers find the tools they learned about in college are replaced within 10 years of graduation. There’s something new everyday that makes us work smarter but in this process, silos have crept in. This is particularly noticeable between preconstruction to operations and finance, and from field to office.

Construction Silo Solution
In an article from Construction Business Owner, “Silos: Great for Grain, Not so Great for Business” the solution was stated articulately “…business silos are not simple structures – they are supported by technology and processes. So the way to break down the business silos would seem straightforward – combine the technologies and link the processes that are used in the office and field silos.” So what have you been doing to combine your BIM, project management, collaboration, document management, mobile communications and the construction finance department together?

Construction Technology Challenges
Perhaps your vendors aren’t thinking strategically enough as your contracting firm prepares for the economic surge created by the pent up demand of the recession. Your systems may work well separately but have you found the integrations to be cumbersome or even lacking? Every disconnect causes inefficiencies and added costs. Lack of communications and access to up-to-date information can have a significant impact to your bottom line.

Integration Approach
Third Party integrations seem to have been popular in the 90s as software developers worked diligently to share data. As technology progressed, smart firms offered Software Development Kits (SDK) and introduced Applications Programming Interfeces (API) to help seamlessly share data across systems. The XML standard started gaining traction as the Associated General Contractors of America and COBie made a push for better collaborative solutions. Specializing and doing one thing well is great as you remain focused and innovative. Those that ventured out in developing their own solutions in areas with little or no expertise have paid the price as valuable resources and talent were robbed from their core competencies to create mediocre solutions in the chase to fulfill the needs of field operations, preconstruction and collaboration.

Enterprise Resource Planning
Most ERP solutions today have grown up in a general business environment and added modules to address construction across department and divisions. So what’s a growning innovative construction firm to do when they have a mix of legacy or disconnected systems? I’ll admit I’m biased. As a Business Development Partner for Viewpoint Construction Software I’ve watch strategic acquisitions occur that not only bring teams of focused talent but leverage economies of scale. The approach has been when a critical mass of customers needs a solution that would take years to develop, find the best solution with the best talent and a culture match and either partner or acquire.

Document Management
Last year Viewpoint acquired Construction Imaging (CI) addressing the needs of document control, imaging, capture, workflow, and records retention. CI has integrations with many of the top construction accounting and project management software vendors and it is still providing solutions to contractors wanting to achieve a paperless office while leveraging existing in place systems.

Mobility and Partnerships
Recently Viewpoint acquired ACS Connect to address the needs of the Mobile Field Manager while also welcoming eSub to the Software Development Partners Program. They join a growing community of construction industry focused solutions including: AboutTime, BirdDog, ComData, Cosential, Eathwave Technologies, MJobTime, and SmartBidNet. Integrations are important for specialized solutions but sometime acquisitions can vault a firm into the lead.

Strategic Aquisition
Today, the big announcement at Viewpoint was another acquisition, 4Projects, which brings project controls, procurement, Construction design Management and BIM in a browser all in a SAAS model (cloud computing purity for scalable deployment for one project or many). In time, the integration of Viewpoint V6 and 4Projects will blend. Watch what 4Projects does now and come back to see what Viewpoint will do next.

If your construction system has silos and you’re tired of duplication of effort, Email Me Now!

Construction PDFs: How General Contractors Streamline Processes May 11, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
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When it comes to sharing documents, the Portable Document Format (PDF) is the standard. Everyone receives PDFs via email, but not all PDFs are designed for construction industry use. Most PDF software will address the needs of administrative personnel but the operations side of the contracting business is ignored. So what do I mean by a construction PDF?

Construction PDF with Markups

Looking at how construction teams collaborate on plans, revise project designs and work in the field, documents must be easily accessed and kept up to date as they are referenced frequently for a variety of tasks. A quick list of functions you can do with a Construction PDF includes:

1. Create an electronic “As-Builts” turnover package for project owners with embedded O&M manuals
2. Collaborate on Plans with Studion Web Conferencing, recording markups by participant along the way.
3. Step Thorough Plans with Hyperlinks to Details
4. Punch the Project Electronically and Back Check Quickly
5. Generate 3D PDFs from Revit & Navisworks or 2D from AutoCAD
6. Embed 3D BIM renderings into RFI PDFs
7. Perform Estimating Takeoffs while Collecting Location and Material Information simultaneously.
8. Let the Computer Find symbols on Plans for you with Visual Search

A construction PDF is just more flexible and makes plans easier to manage. It also can be opened by popular PDF readers and still extends the hyperlinking properties when opened. What’s interesting about construction PDFs are that they are a secret to most general construction firms. Those that use them have a competitive edge and want to keep it that way, but not me. I’m here to help educate the construction industry – and hopefully make a living at the same time. Here’s where you can learn more about Bluebeam – The Construction PDF

Construction Plan and 3D Model Markups will Never Be the Same March 27, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software.
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The official release date for Bluebeam Revu 10 has arrived and they’ve again managed to blow the competition away again. If you are using a PDF editor and you work in the Architecture, Engineering or Construction Industry it’s time you see Bluebeam Revu. Revu combines an intuitive PDF editor, viewer, markup and collaboration technology with reliable file creation. Revu goes beyond PDF and takes paperless workflows to a whole new level. The flexible interface is designed to provide the necessary tools for accessing and managing the documents that you need, when you need them, especially Construction Plans and drawings.

Bluebeam is best way to share Construction Plan Markups with your team and the project owner, period. Let’s listen to what your construction peers are saying about Bluebeam:

Construction Plan Markups for Revit and Navisworks®:
Create 3D PDFs with just one-click from Revit and Navisworks®, and markup 3D PDF views. Use Links to easily create and
update hyperlinked documents, and create zone awareness for markups with Spaces. Here’s how to create a 3D PDF out of Navisworks. In this video you can see the flexibility and power tools to add markups and comments into your 3D model that are easily noticed and opened by those who later view the model.

With Revu, you can achieve a paperless workflow with powerful PDF creation, markup, editing and collaboration features. Create high quality PDFs with one-click from MS Office, digitally redline PDF drawings with industry standard markups and measurements, and save custom markups in the Tool Chest™ for easy reuse. Automatically compare drawings, integrate with SharePoint® or ProjectWise®, go mobile on a tablet PC and collaborate in real time with Bluebeam Studio™. Take collaboration further with Studio projects, giving you more flexibility when sharing and storing files in the cloud.

View Your Construction Plan Markups on Your iPad:
For management on the go, mobility and access drives productivity Bluebeam Vu for the iPad grants you access to your markups for review directly out of Dropbox cloud storage.

If you’ve ever used Bluebeam, share your experience with our readers in the comments. If you’d like to try it, download a 30 day free trial , or Email Me Here.

We’ve talked about PDF editing before (I am a reseller of Bluebeam) and you may also be in these posts:

Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 1 – Estimating Takeoff
Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 2 – On-line Meeting for PDF Changes Now or Later
Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 3 – Large Format Drawings and Markups

Does a BIM Requirement Stop You From Bidding? January 10, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, CAD, Construction Industry - Software.
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2 comments

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become an industry standard on complex construction projects. As more Construction owners reap the benefits of BIM, more projects add a modeling component. While Architects grab Revit, the complexities feel insurmountable, especially for smaller contractors in the electrical and mechanical trades. An investment of 6-18 months and $80-100,000 is not uncommon to hear. So what is a smaller subcontractor to do?

Get Educated on BIM
The Associated General Contractors of America has an excellent publication “The Contractor’s Guide to BIM” that is a great place to start. Understanding the benefits to the Owner, Architect, Engineer, and subcontractor will make you more comfortable in the design and modeling process. It will keep you in sync with the jargon and help you see the benefits for marketing your firm.
Your local universities also offer training and educational programs as do the think tanks of the construction industry. The Alliance for Construction Excellence and the Construction Users Roundtable are excellent places to tap expertise, spot trends and peer into what the future holds.

Consider Outsourcing while You’re Learning BIM
With the economy still struggling, smaller firms that are already cash strapped will have to wait to train or hire a BIM espert for their firm. Doing a Google search for BIM outsourcing typically returns results outside your local area as the big firms all vie for Search Rank. You may want to ask your network connections, as many business who started in drafting and design have made substantial investments to offer BIM services to specialty contractors. In Arizona, my friend Donna Overton, owner of Draftek has done exactly that, offering electrical, mechanical, piping and fire protection modeling services. Watch this short video on the NAU Skydome work they delivered
and you’ll realize that outsourcing BIM is certainly a viable solution. Finding providers nearby also keeps your local economy humming.

Hiring BIM Talent is Quicker than Learning from Scratch
If you want productivity in BIM, hiring for experience is certainly quicker and easier to attain success and brand your new BIM department, albeit more costly. However, recent college grads are eager to learn and are great at augmenting a BIM department. Then you can mold your own model of a BIM professional without any “bad habit” baggage. Finding the right candidate and justifying a full-time BIM position will require a business development strategy to keep the BIM department busy.

Know Your Project Niches that Best Suit Your Strengths
Just because you have hired a BIM staffer shouldn’t mean you go out only bidding projects with BIM requirements. Business must always play to their strengths so the bulk of you projects should still be bid in the areas where you hold the most expertise. You wouldn’t bid a nuclear power plant if you never worked on any power plant before. Neither would you chase a GSA or other federal project without some experience in municipality or state work. Your BIM guy or gal should will be excited to work on more diverse projects that showcase their talents so BIM dry runs, where you are vying for the short list may help separate you from competitors. Remember to incorporate the technology in your presentations and practice the pitch.

BIM also Leads to other Technology
Augmented Reality, Laser Scanning, Immersive Environments and Digital Fabrication all are an extension of BIM. Just last week the Phoenix Revit Users Group had Jim Balding, founder and CEO of the Ant Group speak about where the new technologies are heading. Construction technology has just a short sprint left to a mobile, augmented future.

Don’t let BIM stop you from bidding. Tap into the expertise available and plan for your future. For some it may be outsourcing, for others it will be a BIM department. Just never stop learning as missed opportunities rarely resurface.

What questions do you have on BIM outsourcing and bidding do you have? I’ll tap my experts for the answers if I get stumped.

Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 1 – Estimating Takeoff June 17, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, CAD, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, estimating.
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Estimating Takeoff with BlueBeam PDF Area VolumeConstruction collaboration with PDFs has been utilized poorly. Even with the Microsoft Office 2010 release that gives you the ability to convert documents to PDF built-in, it’s lacking when it comes to collaboration for the AEC Industry. To help change that I’ll share some best practices and features that contractors, architects and estimators perhaps weren’t aware of. What PDFs do best is share documents in a format that everyone can access. Print to PDF gets the document out of that technical construction software package (AutoCAD, Revit, etc) and serves it up for every construction team member, without needing the same software. This will be a series of posts that will discuss construction collaboration using PDFs for Estimating Takeoffs, Converting Large Format and 3D Drawings, AutoCAD and Revit Integration, Drawing comparisons, Hyperlink referencing, Tablet PCs, and Sharepoint.

To be clear, not all these secrets are available in Standard PDF programs but are specifically designed for the AEC industry by Bluebeam, a PDF software firm which impressed me so much that I recently became an authorized reseller.

I understand that each person learns differently so you may want to download this tutorial Bluebeam Revu measurements takeoff or Watch this video (13 minutes) to see how the measurement tool in Bluebeam will give contractors the ability to perform takeoffs from PDF. This includes: Calibrate the drawing or set the scale, use measurement annotations for area, length, volume and counts, and perform further calculation with your takeoff data. The video shows the takeoff details and how to group items into sections (this could be CSI codes, tasks or areas). There’s also the ability to price and export the details to a spreadsheet. Realize this is just one secret to Bluebeam Revu and is built-in to every version Standard, CAD and eXtreme. You may also want to view a few more sample takeoffs like the one at the top.

If you can’t wait to see all the “Secrets” for the AEC Industry, you may want to watch this overview video “Which Revu is Right for You?” to to see how Bluebeam can make your team collaboration and productivity improve with large format drawings, Revit, AutoCAD, Bentley Systems BIM and more.  Or download a 30 day trial and take Bluebeam Revu for a test frive yourself.

Augmented Reality Now: How 3D Visualization is Changing the Construction Industry December 13, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software.
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Today we’d like to welcome a Guest Post from James Benham, president of SmartBidNet and JBKnowledge who has graciously contributed his time and expertise to share this article with our readership. I met James in Phoenix last year when he was the speaker for a construction association dinner meeting and we have been friends (and admirers of each other) ever since.
BIM, 3D Visualization and Augmented Reality
In simple terms, Augmented Reality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality) is the process of using technology to overlay virtual imagery and data on top of real world images (either through a camera enabled device, sunglasses, a transparent display or contact lenses). For the sake of this discussion Augmented Reality is the result of the convergence of several key technologies now available on the open market:
● Precise 3D models
● Mobile devices with the following components:
– Gyroscope
– Accelerometer
– GPS receiver
– 3G/4G Data connection
– Multi-touch interactive displays
– Front and rear facing high resolution cameras
– Light sensor
– Proximity sensor
– Audio sensor
– High resolution display
● Accurate satellite imagery
● Accurate street-level imagery
● Precise Geographic Information System (GIS) data

With the advent of all of these technologies put together into portable devices like the iPhone and iPad, not to mention Android based solutions like the Galaxy class phones and new Galaxy Tab, data now meets visualization in a way never imagined. The devices, combined with their data, allow the user to take a BIM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_Information_Modeling) model and render it in 3D on top of real world images.

To make this more useful, the display of these items is moving from a portable device to more usable devices like windshield displays of construction equipment, sunglasses and even contact lenses. This means that with increasingly accurate data, models, hardware and displays, the BIM models that estimating departments put together can be shipped to the field for use by the people actually performing the work. Below are a few examples that best illustrate the use of 3D models for various construction tasks like client walk-through, remodel designs, field reviews, and earthwork. In one of my recent talks (http://www.jamesbenham.com/presentations/) an electrical subcontractor immediately asked after my talk if he could buy glasses for his workers that would overlay the electrical plans on everything they saw when they walked into a construction site. While this is not available yet, you can expect this type of technology to come on the market in the near future. And for those of you sci-fi fans out there, yes, this is RoboCop and Terminator coming to real life!

Videos (special thanks to VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland):

Multi-touch display used as a navigation tool in a 3D environment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tjtOdyl9a4

Augmented Reality display of a building on a construction site:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVt86NGXQv4

Augmented Reality in Virtual Furnishing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsJfTFcY-1U&feature=related

Earthwork with Augmented Reality:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiDnlhxs1os

The important take-away is that the new technologies that seem to not apply to all parts of construction, have significant ramifications when they come together. Who would have thought, 5 years ago, that 3D construction models could be overlaid on a real construction site thru the use of specially designed sunglasses connected to the phone in your pocket?

The question really is how far these technologies will pervade the every day life of the average construction worker, from a project supervisor, to an estimator to the CFO. My favorite quote I heard recently from a General Contractor at one of my talks is “I got into construction because you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist, only to find out that now you have to be a rocket scientist to be in construction.”

Projecting the future:BIM Focus on Images? Legalities? October 14, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software.
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Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the hottest construction tool and has been embraced by General Contractors,  Mechanical Contractors Architects, etc.  It has permeated the construction industry.  ConsensusDocs has addressed BIM extensively in their contract documents and large scale complex projects certainly are reaping the rewards of BIM everyday.  So what’s in the future for us now that we have deployed this technology?

How about 3D TVs and Projectors?  I went to lunch with Cheryl Farmer, Director of Client Development with Audio Video Resources and learned that many TVs now have a 3D switch in them, all ready for images  that you can almost touch.  DLP 3D from Texas Instruments has projectors on the market today although performance isn’t quite there yet.  What makes this of value to the construction industry and IT is:

  •  These DLP units use LEDs (they’re Green) 
  •  Can you picture how a 3D projector or TV would enhance your BIM  and CAD models?

The 3D TVs & projectors are hot but there are also some cool gadgets on the horizon in this space too.  Read about the “Thrilling Future Releases We Want Right Now” according to Channel Web.

The future issues also center around legality.  While ConsensusDocs addresses many issues and the 2009 MCAA annual convention discussed “The Legal Aspects of Intelligent Estimating and BIM” I find firms asking telling questions like:   How do I extract all the documents BIM creates and store them in my Enterprise Content Managmeent Repository?  What is the recommended record retention period for BIM?  What are the Best Practices for utilizing BIM to support legal arguments? 

If you have already deployed BIM, you are probably behind the curve in getting a handle around some of these issues.  Part of it has to do with the BIM technology itself. as it stores documents inside the model attached to each object.  Ask me how to effectively capture these into your ECM system…I can help.

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