BIMBeing: The Journey #10
#10 – You can quantify?!
Image by Pixabay of Pexels
Post #10 already, time flies right? If you’ve been with me since Post #1 a few weeks ago then I’m incredibly grateful that you’ve stuck with it. If this is one of the first posts you’re reading then welcome! Be sure to look back at some of the topics that you’ve missed, from COBie to the Environment and all manner of things in between. Don’t forget that the aim of this is to be interactive; comments and emails are all well received.
Todays post originates from a conversation in the office just a few days ago, a conversation that I and many of you will have experienced time and time again. I’m walking past the site production team when I overhear one of the new engineers (senior guy but new to the company) swearing profusely at a stack of drawings – nothing unusual here. He’s trying to unpick an enormous ‘variation of works’ claim from a mechanical sub-contractor (a 6 figure sum no less, also not unusual) who are claiming that there is now X-amount more pipework in the latest design as there was in their original contract information. Against my natural instinct to ignore the profanities and continue walking past to get more fuel (I need coffee, the tank is running dangerously low), I decide to stop and ask what the problem is.
His plan, call him Engineer A, is to sit with the printed drawings from their contract and compare them manually with the current drawings – WHAT?! He’s holding his trusty scale ruler, a pencil and a notebook and has around 100 drawings to go through (claim affects 4 sets of drawings, 12-13 drawings per set, originals and updated versions). It’s a ludicrous volume of manual work which will not only take days to complete but will also provide wildly inaccurate results that will probably not get him to the conclusion he desperately needs. He’s about to bang his head through the table by the time I walk past, luckily BIM can offer a very simple solution.
“Stop what you’re doing, grab a coffee and come over to my desk. I can quantify all of this for you in about 10 minutes”. He has no idea what I’m talking about right now but frustration means that 1, he’s looking for any reason to leave his desk and 2, he is willing to try anything.
We sit down at my desk, I have a federated Revit model open and I start to explain that I can quite easily produce a schedule of all of the information he needs. I can tell without a single word leaving his mouth that he’s sceptical; at this moment in time it seems as though he’s only there to humour me. New Schedule > Pipework > Select all relevant attributes > Sort by Level, System, Size and Type > hit OK. 30 seconds of the spinning blue wheel and we’re in business, as any Revit user would expect. We’re now looking at a full and detailed schedule of all of the pipework systems and components, simple.
Engineer A quite literally has his foot in his mouth, steel-toed boots and all. A task which is so simple to any half-competent Revit user has genuinely blown his mind. It hasn’t just saved him days of mind-numbing work, it has also opened his eyes to BIM, and that I would argue is much more important. This traditional, paper-driven engineer has in an instant realised the value that the “pretty 3D model” can bring to his job role, regardless of any other benefits. It may have cost me 30 minutes of my day but as a team we’ve saved an awful lot more than that: we’ve saved days on this particular task, we’ve saved an unimaginable amount of time on any future quantification tasks and we have successfully slashed a subbies over-inflated claim for additional work by around 75% – I’d say that was 30 minutes very well spent.
It’s unfortunate that in 2019 we still have so many individuals in the industry with a lack of BIM awareness; it’s an issue that we must all work together to tackle. We cannot and should not blame the individual, it’s likely that they have never been shown the true benefits to their specific role. While many are plugging BIM for virtual reality and automation-by-drone we’re forgetting to get the basics right, which is far more important. We need to go back to the INFORMATION. We need to show people what it can be used for and how it can truly support their job role to ensure that the whole industry understands the basics and can appreciate the benefits. By simply taking the time to sit down with this particular Engineer, explain what can be done, show how it works and provide him with a useful output I have brought him willingly into the BIM world; if I’d turned up at his desk, thrown his drawings on the floor and slapped a Vive headset to his face he’d have laughed me out of the room, further dismissing BIM as useless and impractical. As those in BIM specific or BIM enabled job roles we have a duty to support and educate all of those around us, it really is for the ‘greater good’.
The next step, after awareness, is upskilling. Once the benefits are known it’s time to get more people to be ‘BIM enabled’. It’s great that Engineer A now knows that these quantities can be extracted from the models but it would be even more useful if he were able to extract them himself. Note that this isn’t me being work-shy; I in no way expect every individual on a project to be capable of producing or extracting information from models. However, many actually want to, and it’s a benefit to everyone. The more people that become ‘BIM enabled’ the more efficient we can be as a team, it’s obvious. Several engineers that I have supported are either requesting external training (they’re novices that want a crash course) or are having short training sessions internally with me (for those that already have some understanding of the software). It’s fantastic to see even the most ‘old-school’ engineers leaving their comfort zone of drawings and sketches in order to start adopting BIM. It further supports project BIM implementation and the use of real, practical BIM with a clear purpose and useful outputs.
So there we have it, another post ending with an opportunity for you to go and get involved. Go out and spread the word with good, practical BIM. Try to upskill the team around you so that as a whole we can truly realise the efficiencies BIM can offer.
The only downside? I currently have a short queue of engineers forming at my desk; I feel a bit like a performing monkey, one that’s really good at scheduling. Anyway, it’s all for the ‘greater good’…