By Henry Coombs
For some time, the Construction industry has utilised technologies such as AutoCAD for design purposes. With near enough everyone having access to a computer it means that we can receive a drawing via email, take a screen shot using free software like the snipping tool in windows or the good old print screen button, and then begin to mark it up using other free tools like paint. Once we have done this we can save the file and send it back to the architect or whoever it may be with our comments.
Let’s be honest, this is a drastic improvement from how we used to communicate on a project i.e. printing out a drawing, marking it up with a highlighter and posting it back. We have evolved because technology is readily available nowadays. We see it everywhere, it’s cheap and it has improved a great deal over the years in terms of reliability, ease of use and hardware size. We wouldn’t go back!
So it’s almost 2017 and almost everybody carries a mobile phone with them. Most people, at least for work, have a laptop which is probably as powerful as the desktop equivalent 3 years ago. We use our phones or ‘Smart Phones’ to do amazing things like take high-quality photos and share them with our friends and family within seconds, with captions and comments using social media like Facebook and Twitter. We can then have a conversation around that photo, all in real time, or acknowledge a comment by liking it. Prior to this we would have had to take a dedicated camera out with us to take our photos, then come back to our computer at home and load the photos on and email them. Incredibly inefficient in comparison.
Well, we can make the same cultural change in how we communicate with each other on a construction project in the same way we have done with sharing photos. We can do this using Autodesk’s BIM360 platform which is a cloud-based application for sharing design information on a construction project, with all members of the project having access. We are able to access this through a web browser and on mobile devices, meaning anytime, anywhere access.
In the image below we are inside BIM360 and we have a federated building information model, or a BIM, which is a combined version of all design models, a bit like a drawing with x refs.
Here we are in the cloud via a web browser and you can see that I have been able to add a mark-up with a comment notifying the team that we have decided to remove an internal partition. Stuart, our M&E designer, has automatically received an email notification alerting him of my markup. From this he can click on a link that will take him straight to the markup, live in BIM360.
He can then acknowledge my markup by adding an additional comment, which in this case has been done on an iPad, with all communication being logged in the markups section on the right-hand side for the whole team to access.
This process has completely streamlined the way we would traditionally share information and communicate on a project and eliminates those tedious tasks like finding and downloading a drawing, taking a screen shot, marking it up, pasting it into a word document and sending it in an email. Not only does it eradicate all of the above but it logs every bit of communication on the project and takes you directly to the area of discussion live in the system which is where the real value is.
Please take a look at my videos on BIM360 where I demonstrate some of the key features and how they tie in with what has been discussed in this article: http://cadline.co.uk/Products/BIM360Solutions/BIM360Glue.
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