Friday, April 17, 2015

Is force-feeding BIM really a good idea? How about looking at the real cause of the Construction Industry being so sick?

I kind of hung up my official BIM – boots some 18 months ago, though I still respond to the occasional BIM head-hunter enquiring about the status of my employment.
Just to get a reality check, that the global BIM lobbyist and their foot soldiers have not come to see the real light while I was asleep and missed it. (no they have not).

I also use my ‘world class BIM expertise’ daily under the disguise of doing a job of a Design/Project Manager but consider myself to not be an active promoter of the misunderstood art of BIM (real-or made up).
In fact – I am happy to be known as an avid cynic of prescribed BIM approaches, Government and/or other type of large scale mandating of BIM as solutions to the global demise of a deeply sick and hopelessly out of touch Construction Industry.

I have very few people that officially agree with me this question – that keeping ramming down a supposed medicine for a misdiagnosed illness is futile – or saying it plainly, what we know of as a mainstream BIM is really no solution for anything at all and this BIM will not fix the problem of the industry where most people (managers of any type) above those at working the straight ‘coal-face’ (i.e. the doers) are largely incompetent.
The higher you go up the food-chain, the bigger the projects and stakes and the level of incompetence rises too. So increases the arrogance cultivated to hide that incompetence from those that (miraculously) have yet not compromised themselves (like genuinely good clients or sincerely ambitious smart young people early in their AEC careers).
Can’t be that bad. Oh, yes – it can. It is.

But never mind me winging and whining.
Anyone in the ownership of any common sense can see that buildings and other construction related artefacts are regularly produced by the same industry I’m accusing of being terminally ill, instrumented by the people I call incompetent and this magic occurring all over the world, so I must be deeply misguided, naively mistaken or simply mad.

Most likely the last one.
But, never mind me being mad.

I want to use this pair of (admittedly rhetorical) questions from the title of today’s blogpost to publicly put on record, that I will only ever again apply ‘BIM’ as a title to a professional role, attach it to a role description or print it on a business card/digital signature related to my persona when I am especially asked to do it ‘my’ way, pleaded for, almost begged to apply the magic that I (claim to) have to fix parts of construction related projects.
Should not hold my breath for this happening any time soon?

No worries – I can wait.
In the meantime I will carry on with various roles of regular PM/DM (even Architect) jobs and occasionally sprinkle some of ‘my type of BIM magic’ around for (let’s face it), those not really deserving of it.
Just for the fun of it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

“BIM 2016… Are you REALLY Ready?” Heck, yeah!

Scoring imaginary BIM points by mocking the UK BIM mandate is a waste of time, I know.
It is extremely tempting to indulge in it regularly too, considering what is going on in the field and the overall AEC industry.
The state of the Global Industry’s BIM understanding is so bad – and what the UK ‘leaders’ are doing about it is so ridiculously funny that altogether the situation is really rather sad.

So, when I get yet another invitation to line up obediently and get taught by the high and mighty
David Philp Head of Government's UK BIM TASK GROUP, Director of BIM AECOM on (quote):

How to become Level 2 BIM Ready for 2016
How will Level 2 BIM effect your company?
How will Level 2 BIM be assessed
How BIM will increase your profits.
As I did, this morning….The ears prickle, the fingers tingle and another totally useless blogpost is in the writing, while all other useful things one should do on a weekend (cleaning, ironing, mosaicking…) are put on hold.

Hey world, wake up!
UK Government and UK Construction Industry too!  
You are paying a ‘make-believe game’ and many of us can see through this.
 Yes, there is only a handful of us, we are weak, and small and scattered around the industry doing grudgingly what we are told to do to make a living, but please don’t try to rub it in by making it look ‘oh so sophisticated’, clever and innovative.
And real.

For the record: Am I REALLY ready? (you’ve been asking me repeatedly) – am I ready?
I was born ready. But you….well I’d be a bit worried there... if I was you.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I wonder, how does HM the Queen feel about Britain’s impending BIM supremacy?

She must be fully aware of it coming, after all it’s been some time since the UK Government BIM Mandate has been dreamed up and sold successfully to both the practicing and the ‘not quite convinced yet but getting there’, BIM world.

It has been a while since her 2013 New Year Honours List awarded Mervyn Richards OBE for services to BIM and the Construction Industry. She must have cast her eye at the time over the list and dutifully asked the question ‘What the … is the BIM thing? .
I can just imagine the solemn advisors quietly whispering to her something on the line of ‘BIM being to Construction what the full cure for Cancer to medicine could be’? Quite possibly.

Then, there is her son Charles, Prince of Wales who tends to faithfully keep up with what is happening in the industry, so she must get first-hand reports on the progress of this worthwhile initiative especially as the Prince’s favourite UK architects are again the first in enthusiastically embracing the UK BIM mandate.

By the way, what mandate?
Soon enough it will be apparent that it was going to happen naturally in the UK first and in the bestest form, the mandating was just there to speed it is up bit. The UK elite (including the part that reigns over the construction) would never have let such a great opportunity of a ‘hot-air-balloon idea’ be passed onto someone else to claim pre-eminence over.

The Americans? With their claim to have invented the acronym? Or the North Europeans, with their various BIM-ish toolsets successfully operating for decades (like Tekla for example – oh, sorry no longer Finnish)?
Not even the Singaporeans who’ve been parading with their supposedly sophisticated building consenting systems for a while, let alone the little Hungarians that claim to have come up with the concept roughly at the same time as Rubik of his cube?
Nope, this one has been destined for the Brits to control.

As well as quantified positive impacts on the local and global economy of the BIM-UK-storm, HM the Queen is likely to be receiving regular updates from each BIM user-group meeting and every BIM conference held in even the remotest part of the world.
She must be feeling the long forgotten pride of the truly magnificent, learning that these forums dutifully acknowledge UK having gotten ‘there’ first with BIM – even before they look at the serious tasks of labouring on their own, local standards for this non-existent set of activities the group (conference) has been set up to nurture.
Almost like the forming of a new BIM Common world, ignorant of political, economic and other boundaries, after all you can buy I-phones almost anywhere and find Autodesk resellers in the remotest of parts of the globe.

She is probably pretty pleased with this unexpected gift of good news for the nation, even if a bit worried for the time passing by.
Does she wake up in the morning looking at the calendar, hoping 2015 would go faster and we’d get into 2016 just a tiny bit earlier? Or kicking herself for not setting  an earlier deadline for this UK BIM Heaven on Earth and UK’s return to true global dominance?

Picture from here:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tomorrow marks a BIG BIM event in the neighborhood that I will not be attending.

Following the success of the first two BIM conferences in the Middle East, CIFE is co-organizing the 3rd BIM conference with CCC and Projacs in Dubai on Feb. 25 and 26. 2015.

I love how they are doggedly sticking to calling their events ‘annual’ – when this is the 3rd one in the 5th calendar year since the first was held in 2011.
Hairsplitting over semantics from me or just a bit of stretching the definition of the ‘annual’ from their side? A question of a viewpoint, I guess.

I did attend the first one of the three, still have the book that came with it. Nowadays it is gathering dust on my bookshelf though it had accompanied me on my journey from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong and back to Dubai almost two years ago.
Not that it was a lot of help when  I had to fight my war with the BIM-Mafia over in the East, but admittedly there is only so much useful advice authors can include in a volume like this.
Maybe I should have used its physical properties for the close quarter battles I had to fight through (it is a hefty piece of a hardback – Gammon take note) rather than looking for answers between the lines on how to survive in the ‘Manipulative BIM world’ of the Global AEC.

Aside from the above mentioned publication and conference, there are regularly numerous handbooks published and happenings organized within the global AEC market on how to ‘DO’ BIM, yet not much literature or events on offer to assist those that need to brace themselves against BIM malpractitioners or want to dodge the subject altogether.

Since some of the organizers of these events are obviously struggling to find enough good news in their BIM-backyards for the conference to happen within true 12 month intervals, here is a suggestion: Why not make it a ‘Pro BIM Biennale’? It has quite a good ring to it and the commitment that comes with the title will oblige the organizers to only hold it every second year.

Then, the alternative years could serve up the ‘Protect From BIM Biennale’, a series of events aimed at the growing number of BIM-affected that would welcome a forum to discuss and learn about the dark side of BIM too.

A kind of a yin-yang of BIM-happenings to cater for varying needs and keep it all in balance without hindering innovation and/or the emergence of a better global AEC industry. Talking about balance – not much gender balance in the speaker list of tomorrow’s even.
The topic obviously got even more masculine since the first conference, where they had their token woman speaker.
Just observing the facts.

Friday, February 20, 2015

BIMobject: a concept with a little R and a large E

Obviously, it would have been highly pretentious from me to expect some recognition on his face as I introduced myself – let alone true appreciation for the fact that I temporarily suspended my self-imposed BIM exile to attend the BIMobject’s CEO little presentation in Dubai last week, but hey, that just shows how miles apart are we in our understanding of what makes the AEC-BIM world tick.
Or maybe not far at all, just dealing with it in a different way.

He probably did not even notice that I left within 10 minutes into the time he was personally speaking (the presentation movies he started with, I will not count this time).
It was likely that it did occurred to him that the tiny audience he was addressing (the things we still have to do, even as CEOs of BIMobject AB - a public company listed on NASDAQ OMX First North: Share Ticker: BIM) could have show a bit more respect than half of it upping and going after only a couple of words into his monologue, but maybe he did not see either.

Oh, the benefits of being confident in oneself.
Did I write confident? I’m sure I meant cocky, at the time anyway.

It has taken me almost a week to figure out if I was just jealous of his success.
If my leaving in a hurry, driving home in tears and swearing against ever saying the acronym  BIM aloud again, was due to poor, basic envy?
Admittedly, the guy had been hugely successful in something I can only (even in my better days) consider myself to have been mildly profitable in. Comparing time and effort likely put into the subject, over the last 3 decades from either of us, he has definitely done significantly better than I have and am likely to do in the future.

Was it envy? Bitterness, resentment or spite?
Was it upsetting to hear someone simultaneously insult all participants of the industry and still get away with it, something I usually have to pay some sort of a price for – often quite high?
Was it him claiming things that just simply were not true?
Was it him manipulating the facts and trends and doing it without flinching?
The past and the present and predicting the future (like Autodesk and Graphisoft and Bentley or going down the drain hole in unison?
Was it the way he pronounced BIMobject with a ‘y’ – knowing that it kind of sounded cute?
Or was it the jeans  he was wearing and the plastic bag he walked in with at the first place?

None of the above, or not on their own, anyway.

I think it was the combination of ignorance and arrogance with what he dismissed everyone and everything that ever tried anything similar before that really threw me off balance. The stick on the proverbial camel’s back – or my tendency to suffer from flashbacks of my own BIM battles? (thanks, M)

How dare he belittle all the ones that have contributed to where he is now, even more, he now is also milking for own gain?
Velux, intelligent, branded 3D windows existed, like forever – IKEA had fully functioning libraries for decades, Eptar was a beautiful invention dreamed up probably 20 years ago? (or thereabouts).
And these are only the ones I personally know and like, there were hundreds of others that attempted something in a similarly confident way but stayed local or regional (for New Zealand readers: Eboss, Productspec….).

What happened to the old, humble ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’ attitude where one can  claim personal achievements but still give credit where it is due?

On the other hand if he was being so smug because he truly believed to have ‘invented’ the business model that is able to rip off everyone within the AEC industry without them even being aware of it, after all the investors fell for it – maybe I should not be as upset as I got.
The world (even the global AEC) works in some mysterious ways and things tend to get balanced out sooner or later.

Sorry Stefan, your concept is an old story, even the clever-business one you believe to be such a unique invention, which sits behind the glossy-techy fa├žade.
The entity you are representing is one that even with the pompous little R at its right shoulder is only oozing of a patronising Ego.

As for this little storm in the teacup I attempted to get off my chest with this blogpost that enjoys a very limited readership  – write it off to an attempt of self-preservation through blog-writing (mine) and an unusually gloomy Dubai day we are having today.

I’m sure NASDAQ has not heard about Zolna Murray, either, so you’re cool, for now anyway.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Is Two D from Two D still cheaper than Two D from Three D?

Should documentation that is based on a coordinated 3D digital model be charged at a higher price than straight CAD-ed  one is?
Should a client have the right to choose one over the other without wanting to pay for a full blown BIM?

One would think that in the time of advanced ‘BIM maturity’ we are enjoying these days, fundamental steps of information management within the industry, like documenting buildings for the purpose of construction would be done in 3D, as a default.

Sure, drawings are necessary outputs (others say) and orthogonal projections are the most widely understood representations of yet to be built objects, but marry this with the aggressive introduction of BIM for some higher purposes (and dimensions) and logic says, everyone should be using the 3D environment by now to create the simplest of drawings for construction.

Again, there are people arguing the exact level of detail one should model to before the button is pressed to strip the drawings off it, or how much metadata should be attached to a dumb model, but there is little frank discussion out there if traditional, CAD based services should be cheaper (or in fact more expensive) than 3D digital model based ones.
Not to talk about if the practice (2D based 2D) should still exist, at all.

Yet, it is an issue that I see often and raises interesting questions.
For example, an international consultancy I’ve been working with for a while now (7000+ people employed worldwide) likes to claim to be at the forefront of BIM application within its core services.
On the other hand the project we are involved with them has been ‘priced and structured’ to be done in 2D for the supposed benefit of the client.
I.e. it is cheaper this way.
Is it also slower? They claim not to be, though the day-to-day results show otherwise, it is definitely not faster than if done by competent 3D modellers/documenters.

Had the client insisted on wanting a fully integrated 2D-3D process, they’d have to pay a premium, the argument (and the consultancy) say.
Even though the time taken to prepare and the outputs would have been the same (supposedly), i.e. 2D drawings.

So, how does this phenomenon fit within the laws of common economics? The consultancy can argue that their services are exceptionally and equally good, no matter if the drawings were done via traditional CAD or by peeling them off 3D digital models.
And because the client is interested in the end results only, the ‘how they are done’ should not be of their concern, i.e. it is a question of the ‘means to the end’.
They could also argue that the extra charge is due to the higher (or different) skillsets the modellers must have from their CAD colleagues and possibly their availability.

But if the end results are the same, shouldn’t the client have the right to choose at no extra cost?
Now, let’s say we accept that this consultancy has a valid reason to offer the two services at different costs, after all it employs over 7000 people worldwide, that would include one or two old fashioned CAD-dies needing to be kept busy.

What then, if the client asked for visualisation material throughout the project development?
Asked and been offered, but at an extra cost.
Logically, one could say, that since the client is now paying extra for the visualisation material, the consultant should be offering a basic BIM-ish package instead that fulfils all the client’s needs at this extended cost?
Yet, the other side can argue just as logically, that visualisation 3D is not the same as documentation 3D (and I’d agree with that, funnily enough) so traditional 2D + visualisation 3D cannot be easily substituted by a ‘do it all 3D’.
A level headed approach to this question would be the ‘horses for course’ theory, have we not have been (as an industry) around this issue so many times before.

On one side, big names claim (and mandate wholesale) BIM because it is the only way to go to save money and work better. On the other side big names (like this consultancy) sell their clients ‘just as good 2D based documentation’ as well as the ‘higher cost 3Ds’?

Is this the case of some wires being crossed or is someone being seriously taken for a ride?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Balfour’s troubles nearing end, despite the latest £70m profit warning

“An expected cut in dividend also won’t please shareholders, with more details to come in the firm’s full-year results in March, when it will reveal its second successive pre-tax loss.
On the other hand, Balfour Beatty doesn’t seem to be struggling to win clients’ faith. Its appointment to Scape’s latest framework, worth up to £1.5bn, is proof of that.”

Writes one of the army of analyst that tries keeping up with Balfour Beatty’s shenanigans.

I parted with BB in mid-2013 and by the end of 2014 I almost totally lost interest in the largest UK construction contractor. I have since also stopped expecting for it to fatally fall on its own sward of historic dodgy activities and I got on with my own mundane life instead.

Yet, BB keeps on popping up in headlines of Construction related news, daily alternating between the good and the bad.

Today, a ‘what if’ thought crossed my mind as I rolled over the multitude of BB banners.
What if one of them said something like this:

Balfour Beatty figured out a way to end all its troubles!
The reconditioned management of the deeply troubled Construction Company has unveiled its revolutionary idea that will fix all its historic and more recent difficulties.
BB are going Paper Free in all their activities. This approach has benefitted many other industries before and BB is pleased to be the true pioneer of the industry to recognise and first implement it within construction.

Starting immediately. Including all of their construction sites and involving every staff member, all the employees of the company.
To ensure this approach – destined to revolutionise the global construction industry is trademark protected all the legal work has already been completed in the critical geographical markets including registering its name with the relevant authorities:
BB Paper Free by Decree, BB-PF-BD in short.
The historic moment of the Decree becoming live is being celebrated by simultaneous public burning of all remaining paper-matter on 100 BB construction sites located all over the globe, involving the highest of local dignitaries as first-match-lighters.

… and the story could go on – mentioning hard hats and wiz-wests and an array of digital gizmos that BB had already granted with compatibility certificates. A subheading could describe how the BB-PF-BD academy has been churning out PF-enabled graduates by the hundreds since its inception a couple of months ago, biggest campus being currently established in the UAE (why not?).
Of course I know there is a fat chance for anything like this to happen any time soon, even on a relatively, small scale – let alone under the sponsorship of a big beast like BB.

To keep up a bit of hope, of a better (paper free?) construction industry at least for the sake of future generations, I re-watched the video my daughter made for me when I had my pretend –‘show down’ with the mischievous Balfour Beatty some year and a half ago:

Friday, January 9, 2015

“BIM is struggling in USA” The Role of BIM Minions in spoiling the Global BIM initiative’s potential to succeed

“BIM is struggling in USA” is the title of an article by Mr. Iftikhar A. Gaur. The statement itself s deducted from the end-of-year reporting of the buildingSMART alliance™ USA’s financial performance summary.

Nowadays, I rarely react to such obvious BIM-baits as this, LinkedIn promoted article appeared to be – still, the blatant generalisation the title implied enticed me to read it.
The last two sentences were ‘the cherry on the top’ of the writing, in them Mr. Iftikhar A. Gaur addressed the wider BIM community with a request:
“I am interested in BIM. Can somebody tell me where can I find write resources to learn more about BIM as a manager?”

I have been known to publicly whinge about the somewhat dodgy activities of the global buildingSMART organisation in the past, yet this time, the figures quoted – as fascinating as they were, did not entice me to write yet another useless analysis of the sad state of the Global AEC industry and buildingSMART’s role in getting it there.

More fascinating did I find the phenomenon, that a professional, pretending to be active in the field of BIM, with no fewer than 6 CAPITAL LETTERED acronyms behind his name, is brave enough to make such a statement – as the title quoted, even though he obviously (see end of the article) knows little about the topic.

So, leaving the question of the buildingSMART alliance™ USA’s financial performance in 2014 for another blogpost, I’ve set out to delve a little into the topic of the ‘BIM Minions’.
In the past I called these individuals BIM-Careerists, ambitious professionals active within the global AEC somewhere mid-career taking on BIM with the goal of giving their own job prospects a major kick.

In principle, not a bad thing – the industry, a bit starved of truly smart drivers can do with the positive initiatives of its smartest players. The by now reasonably well experienced, well qualified middle-level workforce is opening its eyes to the BIM ‘potential’. This should be a good sign.

BIM has traditionally been powered by the army of foot-soldiers, ex CAD – often self-trained modellers and the occasional top level smart thinker, but the middle benches have been generally ‘BIM free’ for the last 2 decades.

I attributed the usual apathy of these mostly 30 and 40 somethings towards BIM to a combination of factors. The main one has been, the ability to get-by in Construction without needing to know anything about BIM.
Furthermore, not just ‘able’ but almost actively discouraged to stay away, CAD-ish looking acronyms after one’s name did not generally prove in the past to be a good career booster. (as opposed to a couple of ‘p’s, for example).

The fact, that the likes of Mr. Iftikhar A. Gaur are appearing to be ‘en masse’ setting out to add something BIM-ish to their strings of letters, points to the changing attitude of the previously disinterested layer of mid-level AEC professionals.
More and more often they find themselves put into positions that require them to act knowledgably on the topic of BIM, either by their superiors charging them with BIM-merising parts of the company or their subordinates requesting leadership for upskilling into BIM.

And this is where things start getting scary for the global BIM.
While these would be BIM Minions stayed away from BIM, too busy building their own careers, there was a blissful stage of ‘live and let live’. Sure, they chimed in occasionally, presented at a BIM-related conference or contributed to BIM-flavoured events, but at least they made sure they did not get their hands dirty with anything real BIM. The closest they got to it was in them outsourcing or in-sourcing BIM packages and occasionally pressing the ‘go’ button on a flash animation prepared by others. They were even prepared to admit to their ignorance.

Unfortunately for all, this stage had come to an end.
Even in the sluggishly slow overall BIM progress of the global AEC industry there, are now strong pressures on the top managements of companies to ‘keep up’ and/or better even, lead with BIM initiatives. Various government mandates on BIM processes add weight to this urge to ‘do something’, ending mostly on the shoulders on these ‘at first reluctant’
Minions to ‘Make BIM work’.

A nice little challenge for them, one would think, but unfortunately a disaster-prone one.
These Minions, while having clocked up a decade or two in the industry are at the upwards climbs of their careers are also blatantly ill-equipped to pick up BIM.
They are too old, too comfortable and very often too lazy to learn BIM from scratch; so instead, they try to get-by through bluffing.

Finding themselves on various BIM implementation committees and other subject-forums, asked to make important BIM decisions, they learn to look knowledgeable on the topic. Their managers, themselves only barely literate on ‘high-level’ BIM topics, appear in turn only too eager to let them steer the company across the choppy BIM waters, unchallenged.

And so it goes, the global AEC industry, having started on the back foot with meaningful application of digital tools within its processes some 2 decades ago, carries on the downward spiral of self-deception and pretence.
Rereading the article quoted from the top makes me believe that this charade is only going to get worse in the near future.

Image from here:

Monday, December 29, 2014

BIM Viewers in the Cloud vs. PDF Spatial Re-constructors on Earth (Part 2 of the overdue PDF trilogy I promised some time ago)

The global AEC is swarming with BIM Viewers, any service provider dealing in Building Related Information appears to have a proprietary one on offer.
Some are better than others. Commonly they offer the ability to view BIM models of various origins, maybe combine them, rotate, zoom, filter information. Some have mark-up tools, others provide fancy gadgets for tracking model-revisions. The models are usually stored on remote servers, they live in the Cloud, so to speak.
While the intentions behind creating these digital spectacles are usually good, the self interest of the owners to get a larger market share combined with the genuine want to make the usually exclusive and elusive BIM outputs more accessible to the non-BIM literate, I can’t help but seeing them as ‘wasted efforts’.

In my experience, those AEC practitioners, that (for whatever reason) do decide to ‘suddenly’ get familiar with ‘a’ BIM originating software will always prefer the full software to a dumbed down viewer and will learn to use the ‘real’ thing as opposed to the somewhat idiot-proof substitute. The rest (majority) that are still doing fine in their careers even blatantly ignoring anything BIM, will stay ignorant to ‘viewers’ too, no matter how user-friendly they may become.

My view is that the ROI on any proprietary BIM viewer (apart from probably the absolute market leaders) is likely to be far too low and those engaging in the development and maintenance of these should think again about their investments and spend the efforts/money on something more worthwhile, instead.

For example, PDF Spatial Re-constructors.
These are 3D digital work environments where large numbers of PDF’s can be placed in for the purpose of reconstructing the physical environment they were originally created to describe. At a minimum they are able to accurately place PDF sheets within the digital environment, across 3 axes and to correct scales. The more advanced versions allow the users to spatially connect corresponding points within various sheets to create a digital mesh, approximating the end-(or originally documented) building. The really good ones are either synchronized within comprehensive modeling programs or offer a range of modeling tools to sculpture BIM ready models spatially tracing the PDFs.

I do not know of any comprehensive PDF Spatial Re-constructors available on the global AEC market at the moment. That fact by itself does not mean that they do not exist, i.e. are no tools to successfully combine lots of PDF’s (hundreds and thousands) into usable digital skeletons for BIM or other purposes.
The two BIM toolsets I’m reasonably familiar with, each have cracked parts of this problem, unfortunately neither is looking to be in much of a hurry to extend these, well established features into a comprehensive system.
GS’s ArchiCAD is pretty snazzy with large numbers of PDFs, able to bring them into the digital environment and manages these through nifty color/trace/slider options. It copes well with sizes and is very agile in handling them through all of its 2D views (plans, elevations, sections). It however offers not the same option for the 3D environment, falls short of making the PDF’s ‘dance’ in the real-imaginary-virtual world.
Autodesk’s Revit is pretty clumsy with PDF’s, the last time I looked at this issue, their import was still in a very around-about way. On the other hand, Revit will bring and manage DWG drawings well, including in 3D, resulting in very satisfying looking standing up ‘line section’ placed correctly within digital models.

Having got half way there, both of these companies are in good position to offer up a really useful PDF Spatial Re-constructor in the near future, should they decide to cater for this need. Alternatively, those that are struggling with making BIM-viewers built from scratch might also see some fantasy in going down this direction instead.

Admittedly this concept may not be as glamorous as the ‘full-on’ BIM likes to think of itself to be, it definitely has the potential to assist a large segment of AEC participants be more productive when reviewing drawing based building documentation.

Part 1:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

If banks were truly running the global AEC, all construction sites would be paperless by now!

Banks generally like to keep a close relationship with the AEC industry.
Apart from small scale works and cash-jobs here and there, anything to do with creating buildings in large parts of the world involves banks as financiers or partners. In return, banks’ fortunes tend to be impacted by the destiny of the AEC markets, the threat of a ‘property bubble busting’ is well known for both.
Conflicting with this cozy association is what can be perceived as an apparent disinterest from banks on how the AEC is going about its day-to-day work.
One can argue that bankers should stick to their knitting and leave the hammer-heads to run their industry as they see fit, but it is interesting to note, how different the two sides are in their approaches to information management.

Paper as a medium rules the AEC while the banks have all but banned it from their processes.
Where did the practice of going into a bank with a little saving-account’s book to withdraw (deposit) money, fill out multiple forms, get a stamp and signature from the teller disappear?
I recently phoned one of my bank managers for advice using her mobile number and she asked to call back on her main-line. As they say, ‘all our calls are recorded for quality purposes’.
While it is partially to assist efficiencies and maybe even to improve customer service, the main driver for ‘ being all digital’ with banks is to control their own risks.
Banks ‘know’ at a very high level that what makes or breaks them at the end is their handle on the information part of the business, possibly even more than the ‘real money’. The high level strategy is then implemented throughout the process leaving little room for individuals to manipulate the data against the banks’ interests.

Contrary to this approach the AEC is anything but organized with their information – at high level there is talk and maybe meaningful looking strategies set by the big players, but what trickles down to the everyday work of individuals is as archaic and manipulative a framework as it has ever been in the past of the industry. Probably even worse than in the ‘old, traditional days of building’ where certain level of global technical knowledge and universally accepted tradesmen’s ethics guided the use of information away from the muddy waters of mistreat.

Exemptions do exist in both camps. Low level individuals can sometimes intentionally or by error mismanage information/funds, causing large losses to affected banks. There do also exist AEC based organizations that can truly claim to have their fingers on the pulse of their project information, meaningfully assisting their companies’ risk management and also helping the bottom line.
However, so uniform in behavior the two camps are within their own fields, that the exceptions, if anything, prove and solidify the rules.

And they are unlike to change in the near future.
As much likely is for the large scale mandating of BIM (in the UK and elsewhere) to work and make a significant impact on the industry as it would for any bank to suddenly opt out of central and digital information management in favour of a paper based one and still thrive.
My guess is, that the banks will continue to keep their own houses as tight and tidy as possible but indulge in the fruits of the chaos, that their closely related sister industry, the AEC serves up.

Meanwhile, congratulations are due for David Philp, who has a new job and is now Director BIM – EMEA @ AECOM! A news that warrants an entire blog-post on its own. May yet write it in the near future as it offers young generations of AEC professionals a great example of a career-path as dazzling as a successful politician’s might be.