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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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1 comment so far

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 Photos and Long Term Records Retention January 14, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Construction Industry - Software, records retention.
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Construction photographs are collected on every one of your projects. For years we’ve taken pics with our digital cameras and smartphones, but the challenge has been how to organized these. A file of jpeg1, jpeg2, etc taken at jobsite X on a given date really doesn’t help if a legal claim crops up a few years from now. Sometimes making heads or tails of what and where on the jobsite a photo was taken renders the photo practically useless unless…

You know about Threshold from 383 Studio, a better way to document, photograph, organize and send photos right from the jobsite. Here’s a quick video overview:

What makes this app unique isn’t that it’s easy to use, quick to annotate photos or even that it has a mobile App. What get’s me excited is that there’s a way to export you photos to you content management system for long term storage. All the other Apps I’ve seen lock you into an annual contract for you to have access to your photos once the project is completed. While Threshold has this Archiving option they also offer, as Google likes to call it “data liberation”.

As a long-time proponent of a paperless office, The export function allows you to download the photos with some of the meta data into file folders. What this allows me to do is generate a deliverable of all construction documents and photos to the project owner in a neat as-built package. The Content Archive function of Construction Imaging can consume folder structures into its enterprise content management system effortlessly making these two solutions a great fit.

To be upfront on disclosure, I have business relationships with both Threshold and Construction Imaging. This unique pairing really can deliver the goods and I’d be happy to discuss just how this marriage can work in your construction firm.

If you think you want to take Threshold for a spin, use “Hagen383” to get a 10% discount www.thresholdcm.com

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