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Building a relationship between contractors and product manufacturers

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Bhushan Avsatthi, a director at Hi-Tech iSolutions, outlines the role BIM can play in bringing together building products with the contractors who need them on site, with benefits for all.

BIM – Better Information Management. This is what AEC industry professionals have been quoting for what BIM does to bring value addition to their line of works.

Yet building contractors and building product manufacturers have failed to establish an undisputed relationship when it comes to space planning, space utilisation and equipment installation on construction sites. There are always divergent views between the two, and reaching a consensus has become just a myth.

At this juncture, BIM specialists across the world are keen to explain the value of highly underrated BIM content and establish harmony among manufacturers and chief site contractors. They know multiple ways of working with BIM and delivering relevant information and model assets for both the parties.

To proactive BIM specialists, level of detail (LOD) is more than mere stages of building design development and planning. It is very strongly claimed by them (and is actually the whole truth) that any LOD model, right from LOD 100 to LOD 500, can roll-out information sets that help reduce conflicts, but also helps to establish efficient cost management strategies.  

It is always beneficial to generate BIM-ready models with higher level of details in designs which will outline the key points to consider for the unification of two parties. More important, it provides flexibility to put data only that is required by the contractor and defined by LODs.

A lower amount of LOD can be converted easily into a higher level of LOD or the one with higher details, with a close assistance from manufacturers and designers before it is shared or sent to the contractor. 

While developing as-built models, designers can directly import building product data available on the manufacturers’ websites or can access open BIM libraries for standard content and parts or components. It essentially simplifies the geometry, data types, and considers target audiences for each object when it is exported and put online for use.

Another reason is the fact that no one knows the geometry of a part or component better than the one who manufactured it. This helps generate accurate information, product data template and BIM content for every product that they manufacture along with usual CAD models and drafts for fabrication.

From contractors’ perspective too, when BIM content is readily available, their spatial occupancy is and can be known in a decent manner. With the standardised part library, contractors are empowered to extract the data related to a number of parts needed, associated costs, time for installation, and labor charges against it. Everything is in place and set for proper and efficient scheduling.

Till demolition do us apart

While we have been discussing the integration of contractors and building product manufacturers during design planning and finalisation, advocates of BIM content and BIM specialists are obviously a step ahead. They have planning to keep these two parties integrated and keep the harmony between them until the construction work is demolished.

This to say that BIM content, once created, can be referred to operational issues and maintenance as well. When BIM content is embedded within the as-built models, they bring the information such as manufacturing date, serial number, manufacturers, warranty period, replacement and a plethora of other information pertaining to every component used.

When updated in the BIM-ready models, they may also reflect information to who worked on the last maintenance complaint, what was the complaint about and issues alike. 

Also, when the product data templates and BIM part libraries are assigned properties like global standard and data dictionary, they would link all of it to IFC and COBie. The greatest advantage contractors and manufacturers get is the liberty to exchange the information across the external enterprise from their native model's creation software.

BIM specialists thus highlight the aims to work in a more collaborative approach across disciplines and not only between architectural and structural engineers, on a global scale. The digital enterprise of BIM platforms engages stakeholders across the supply chain for creating a positive, strong, harmonised and unified alliance that exists for longer runs.

It is always beneficial to generate BIM-ready models with higher level of details in designs which will outline the key points to consider for the unification of two parties.– Bhushan Avsatthi, Hi-Tech iSolutions