Editorial Type: Technology Focus Date: 09-2018 Views: 1,112 Tags: CAD, Construction, StreamBIM PDF Version:
Direct access to a very intuitive 3D BIM for users already familiar with all aspects of mobile technology is the way forward for the industry, according to StreamBIM
The secret of a successful BIM strategy is to ensure that everybody involved on a project has access to the information they need, as and when they need it. Yes, I know, I would be rich if I had a pound for every time I have heard that. You are probably fed up with it, as well, but you can't ignore the fact that BIM is all about the sharing of information about the building model. The questions we have to address now, though, is who needs it, where the information is being held, how easy it is to access it, and what format it should be presented in?

When BIM was first mooted it was felt that the information being created in a building model would not only lead to significant savings in the construction process, but that similar savings could be achieved in the running of the building. Hence the development of the Common Data Environment, which at least enabled everyone to agree on what individual building components should be called, and COBie, an Excel based system of presenting building information to those with no grounding in CAD.

In reality, the majority of those taking possession of COBie files tended to thank the contractor effusively and then promptly archive them for reference purposes only, carrying on in much the same way they had before. At the same time, the advantages of BIM persuaded everybody else that the role of Information in the industry is growing at an exponential rate, and that the advanced tools that we are all using now should be able to access and use it.

Wherever you go, everybody now seems to have a mobile device in their hand - chiefly to take selfies, I know - but their ubiquity and utter familiarity should persuade developers that they should follow the trend, if not to lead it, and distribute the information they need to share to where it is most likely to be used. And, while you are at it, to include those usually on the periphery of construction projects, who aren't CAD trained but are similarly adept at the manipulation of smart phone, tablet and laptop devices.

Developed by the Norwegian company of the same name, StreamBIM is designed to make the information within a 3D BIM model completely transparent to any member of a project, along with the associated documents, object specifications, dimensions, and digital drawings, enabling you to share your views on any aspect with other members of the project team.

The ability to view digital drawings is symptomatic of the whole application. One of StreamBIM's Norwegian clients stresses that not having to print out thousands of drawings and their updates after each revision saves them many thousands of Kroner a year, and the time lost in hard copy distribution. Everything they now do is online and paperless, accessing a central model that is updated in real time. Model information is 'streamed' as openBIM data to whoever needs it, and conversations, searches, updates and amendments are conducted directly with reference to the model.

Incidentally, I had a bit of a 'little Englander' moment when I asked about working on data offline and got the polite response that the company is working on it. Probably akin to asking whether I can store a phone conversation and formulating a response offline to upload when I next get in range of a transmitter. The simple answer would be to ensure that every building site, however remote, is set up in the first instance with adequate Wi-Fi capabilities and forget about offline stuff.

You can now add Apple to the list of devices capable of accessing StreamBIM. Users can download a 3D model, navigate to the section they want, and once they are there, use StreamBIM tools to highlight the information they need by highlighting different disciplines within the model. If you are an HVA engineer, for instance, you can highlight just the ventilation system in a model. As you would expect from any advanced navigation system, you can section, measure and hide objects in the model, and look at digital drawings and installation instructions for components for each discipline, accessing whatever information is stored with the model for any object or room.

Users can also turn model layers on or off, hide objects like floors, ceilings and walls to get a better view of what's behind them, and use StreamBIM's laser measurement tool to take measurements directly within the model - including from the centre of pipes.

An interesting addition to the StreamBIM model inspection tool is the creation of a digital twin for the part of the model you might be working on. As an HVA engineer, electrician or plumber, you would be able to take photos of the area you are working on and attach them to the model for reference - attachments that no-one else has the slightest interest in - creating a digital twin of the project to include your photos for your own purposes. PERFORMANCE CRITERIA
Real-time access to project information means just that. There are no offline files to upload and sync with the main model. When a document or BIM model file is updated and published, it becomes accessible for every member of the team instantly. The cloud based service is also capable of processing and compiling large 3D BIM models within minutes, meaning streamed information to each online device is minimised.

To assist users in searching for information in a model, the project administrator - there are three administrative levels - creates the folder structure, adding documents and drawings to them at any time, endowed with searchable tags. Subfolders inherit tags from the parent folder, and StreamBIM uses an intuitive tag and filtering system to assist users in accessing relevant drawings and documents.

Focusing on the limited size of smartphones, StreamBIM has refined searches to just a couple of finger touches, and users can mark drawings they are likely to be using frequently, or in the near future, with a star for even easier access.

Nobody is working in isolation on a BIM project, and StreamBIM has ensured that the system's collaboration features are highlighted. Users can bookmark an object or room and share a dialogue with other users using the software's Chat feature for informal communication. Alternatively you can set up as many predefined tailor-made workflow templates as you want for Snagit, defect management, quality assurance and handover documentation. This provides immediate access to colleagues or managers on-site, in the design studio or, as is often the case, while travelling.

It's another simple procedure to select an object or room, add photos and comments and then create an item on the smartphone and share it with colleagues. And that's just with the standard Capture feature: If you upgrade to the Capture Pro version of StreamBIM you can turn it into a standard working practice, adding a predefined template - then you get all your documentation and work orders tagged to the object, room and building with their status. It's as easy to filter and see the progress as it is to share and handover, providing in the words of StreamBIM, '100% quality control on day-to-day work, always updated and directly linked to the BIM model.'

StreamBIM are now launching in the UK, having successfully installed their solution in a number of Government (Health) establishments in Norway with great success. They openly acknowledge, though, that making the availability of 3D BIM information to the wider project team is just the first step. We are now in the Information Age, and the companies that are best placed to take advantage of it are those who see its benefits, are planning to incorporate them in their own working processes, and who facilitate access to it for more users: hence StreamBIM.