Monday, January 31, 2011

BIM Software providers take construction product manufacturers for a ride!


Manufacturers, make the digital representation of your building products simple to use, reliable, branded and valuable beyond their original purpose.
Aim to help with at least one task the user performs regularly, has nothing to do with your product but makes their life easier.
Most of all, be consistent and reliable. A very simple, reliable object will beat an elaborately conceived but poorly performing system-type tool any time.
Automatic scheduling facility is an obvious feature enjoyed by most, though not high on a priority list of a designer. An object that labels, notates, dimensions itself goes down a treat.
A bathroom object that shows minimal space around it is also useful – how about it detecting the type of wall it is placed on and prompting for waterproofing?
All objects should render effortlessly with real materials/textures and legends for finishes, structural build-ups should generate themselves.
Outputs should require no extra touch-ups, be scalable and have interactive installation manuals attached to them. Accessible digitally, on-line or by self-generated ‘picture book documents’.
Am I dreaming? Possibly.
The irony is that many manufacturers do have the willingness to go down the route of developing the above described tools, the problem seem to be with development.
Themselves being unfamiliar with the field they trust platform (software/BIM/CAD) providers too much!
And are being taken for a ride. How? Care to comment?

3 Interactive PDFs to download here today –
not quite the tools described above, just hinting at what is achievable!





Sunday, January 30, 2011

DWGs may be used by millions of people, so are pencils.


Manufacturers/marketers/suppliers of construction products, select your CAD(BIM) platforms carefully when developing Model based libraries!
Don’t get fooled by the number of sold licences when deciding, most important factor for choosing should be the level of influence future hands-on users will have within the project
(selection, specification, swaying the client one way or other).
There is NO ‘industry standard’ in place, a majority of the industry is simply working to the ‘lowest common denominator’.
DWGs may be used by millions of people, but so are pencils and ball-point pens.
DWGs and DWFs are the most simple shared file format among a large group of industry professionals but remember, snail-mail was not long ago the obvious way to send messages to others.
I understand the need to manage risks;
Over the years I worked with numerous clients that did their due diligence, drew up their budget and went to produce hundreds of 2D DWG installation details for their products as their support to specifiers.
Some poured their resources into expensive trade shows, others, individually targeted key clients and entertained them in expensive restaurants.
Were they wise – spent their money well?
I question these strategies;
Before you set both your technical and promotional strategies in stone, consider these two words:
Innovation and leading;
Both are terribly over/mis-used but hold some critical “clues.” More on these, later!



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Can smart manufacturers/suppliers of construction products make a real difference TO BIM and still look after their ‘bottom line’?


I promised, I‘d give manufacturers/suppliers of construction products hints on how to work well in the BIM arena;

However, before you (smart manufacturers/suppliers) get into analysing the 10 points I mentioned yesterday, there is another question to ponder:
Is the digital representation of your products going to be a free-standing object type, attached to a system tool or a self-supporting tool operating within the host program?

Now, if this sentence makes no sense to you, you need to go one step backward:
Is there anyone within your team that can answer with confidence the question above?
Here is my definition for the types:
·         Free standing objects are: Digital articles that can be placed in a virtual space without any additional tools (system provided or external). These can be very simple or very complex and their attributes (parameters) can be variable or fixed depending on the product they represent.
(branded furniture, fixtures, appliances)
·         System tool attachments are: ones that use program-supplied tools as their vehicles to build virtual representations for the products, most typically walls, slabs, roofs.
(branded walls, slab or roof systems; spouting, pipes, windows, doors)
·         Self supporting tools are: ones that work within programs but contain all applications that are needed; They self-execute themselves, look after their individual components and synchronise modelling/editing tools with their host environment.
(waterproofing- excavation- finishing systems)




Friday, January 28, 2011

Manufacturers/suppliers of construction products: Listen up!


What can smart manufacturers/marketers/suppliers of construction products DO to increase their market share and improve how buildings are communicated?
Stage ONE : Develop Model based libraries;

1.       Chose platforms carefully: the number of platforms you work with, depends on your target market and budget.
Don’t get fooled by numbers – important: influence the users have.
If you can’t do them all, do one and well!
2.       Explore who (from decision makers) has direct access to these objects.
You will pour a lot of money down the drain otherwise;
3.       Make your objects simple to use, reliable, highly branded and valuable beyond their original purpose.
Aim to help with at least one task the user performs regularly, has nothing to do with your product but makes their life easier.
4.       Allow other complementing products to piggyback on your digital libraries.
5.       Use off-the shelf tools to develop them, keep them low-spec (don’t overspec), maintain version currency.
6.       Give these objects the same level of consideration as your original products.
7.       Get on the road – Keep your presence felt in ‘everyday work’;
8.       Target kids (ethically) even before they get into the industry!
9.       Troubleshoot smartly and cheerfully.
10.   Stop spending money on marketing that does not work;

Over the next couple of days I will give you samples for each of these 10 points; Keep following!




Thursday, January 27, 2011

The secret practice of ‘behind the scenes BIM Modelling’...


Let me share a secret with you!
There is much more modelling going on in the construction space than is given credit for. A lot of this activity is done behind the scenes. Often without building owners knowing about it at all!
Junior designers/documenters resolve building problems using digital 3D tools in secret and then output information in dumb-formats without principals knowing.
This is a weird practice, you’d think if you were someone outside the industry;
Does not surprise me at all. Even the most forward thinking documenters tend to bow to the “Master of Drawing” and for almost 2 decades have been instructing staff to break up models, cover over, white out and ‘dress up’ drawings. 
Two reasons are given for this behaviour: Contractual framework and Liabilities.
Occasionally hardware/software limitations. None of these can stand real scrutiny.
There should be no reason for building owners NOT to expect all building documents to be created Model based and retained in such environment, even when outputs are of lesser “D”.
Why do these companies, that may use 3D to lessen their own risks with getting things right spatially, refuse to play the game truthfully and share the benefits of the model with other parties?
Why do they instead share sheets- and sheets of artificially made ambiguous drawings depicting one lot of information published under various scales?



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Steel detailers: BIM pioneers?

From all participants working in construction, steel manufacturers have managed to mimic manufacturing processes to highest degree. The idea of aligning  CAD with CAM has existed in this field for long time and the most sophisticated modelling related to construction-based shop drawings has been – and is being done by using steel structural software (Tekla, StruCAD);
I remember going to sites long ago and observing contractors looking at steel shop drawings to resolve coordination issues irrelevant to the steel-structure;
I’ve witnessed steel detailers being asked by clients to model ‘other’ (concrete, masonry, joinery) building bits to visually confirm design and assist with construction.
It was a matter of time for these guys to start taking advantage of their skills and reach over into the full ‘coordination’;
Nowadays many ex-steel detailing companies offer ‘coordination services’, clash detection (see yesterday’s post too!), sequencing, site logistics and other services loosely fitting under BIM.
On one hand, I am delighted this is happening – and about time it is!
On the other hand, am concerned. We are going down the road well travelled when Project Managers were established into construction;
Skills were missing, some that had those put their hands up and created a ‘niche’ service that soon enough dominated the industry;
Now, managing project information is at stake, steel manufacturers are at the forefront of becoming the project information custodians.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How do you expose BIM Bluffers?


Easy. Almost anyone that mentions “BIM” and “clash detection” in the same sentence and early in a conversation, is most likely bluffing. Not, that there is anything wrong with the idea of digitally identifying potential clashes between spatial elements; We all can get incited into this, quite unrealistic idea of construction information of unbuilt buildings fed into a machine that analyses data and spits out potential clashes;
The fundamental reason that this concept is unrealistic, is the lack of information integrity in construction.
Never during design and construction is it likely to have in hand a package that fully defines and documents a  building.
And in those rare occasions when this does happen the ‘clash detection’ exercise is pointless anyway, as it is almost certain that the designer/documenter that has fully documented the building has already resolved all the potential clashes as well.
So, be weary of parties selling anything that is based on “clash detection” either a service or software.
So, am I not a fan of clash detection? Actually, I am  - but not the ‘press the button’ and the clashes will be revealed type, but the one that within digital environment supports and enforces information integrity and honesty allowing potential spatial interferences to be identified before they become costly mistakes on site.
Sample available to download.




Monday, January 24, 2011

Bring on digital, online building permits!


Have you looked at the file I posted yesterday?
Most striking features? Navigation? Intaractability? For me?
The ‘honesty’ of the information model. What you see is what you get.
I mentioned before design consultants regularly and intentionally showing incomplete drawings with a lot of padding (irrelevant information) to keep the mental image of the proposed building as vague as possible for as long as possible. Interpretation of building documents is often like a treasure hunt – where clues are intermingled with distractions to confuse.
Problem is, this strategy can backfire.
A consultant may produce hundreds of sheets of drawings to justify their fees and/or pad the set up to cover for lack of competency in drafting staff. However, once these drawings enter the project arena they tend to hang around for some time, often rebound and become a liability;
This ‘detective game’ is probably most obvious when it comes to gaining approval by territorial authorities. Notwithstanding of significant efforts by most municipalities to standardise their requirements and put in place ‘conveyor-belt’ assessment systems – this process often ends up as a manipulative exercise against those seeking a permit (time extensions) and/or an unhappy building owner spending unexpected fees on unexpected responses to queries.
Assessing documents for permits seems to be another status quo that cannot be improved.
I believe it can.
Bring on digital, online building permits.



Sunday, January 23, 2011

A press of a button will take me to...


‘Construction is not retail, the same rules do not apply!’ I said yesterday, risking offending small, mom and pa grocery operations that run like clockwork. No offence was intended.
I admit, the problem with my BIM hobby-horse(s) is that, there are so many.
Even in this narrow field of construction communication there seem to be at least a dozen subjects that I am fixated on as holding the secret of failure (or possible recovery) of the industry.
It would make me sound more credible if I continually pointed to one source of all troubles.
More people would take me seriously, it would do no justice to the issue.
The PROBLEM with this problem IS that there are so many contributing factors that a fractional drop in performance in any can cause major trouble for the entire machinery.
Take for example: navigation through information.
Today, another sample – I do urge you to download it, not a big file.
Actually, it is a remarkably small file for the information it contains.
Play with the buttons and consider this: a press of a button will take me to ... this information; Pressing another button will take me to....
You could have been seeing me as a ranting, raging, raving and rampant, BIM moaner so far.
Today, I take a break and delight in this little file; Join me!








Saturday, January 22, 2011

Construction is run like a corner store!


Mentioned Autodesk yesterday, Archicad, Microstation, Vectorworks, etc...
I will come back to the battles that these products fought (and keep fighting) with each other in the building design/documenting landscape, later.
There is one party that has by now become a major ‘collateral damage’ to these battles – the entire construction industry, left to ‘lumber on’ using devices from the middle ages.
Other industries moved with time – the retail industry, for example has managed extremely well to separate what is ‘mundane’ from what ‘matters’ (see previous blog);
You go to the supermarket, fill up your trolley, pay for it; The machinery that supports this simple action is highly sophisticated, controlled, risk managed behind the scenes; Low level (as in skills and pay) people are employed along the process but the area that they can ‘mess up’ is very limited;
In contrast, construction is run like a corner store. Along every one of the steps from ordering, transporting, storing, through sorting, selecting, to paying for, packaging and consuming, the products are managed by people of various skills, understanding and knowledge that work within an unstructured framework – within haphazard systems. Any step can be messed up, and big time for that!
You raise this issue, and the answer is often: ‘construction is not retail, the same rules do not apply!’
Why not?
I have a suggestion, why not. Tomorrow.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Autodesk has been ruling the roost for 3 decades!

Autodesk has been ruling the roost for 3 decades. Hang on! - you say. What about Archicad? A major player since the eighties. Microstation? Vectorworks, Allplan, Spirit etc?
All controlled part of the patch but none really delivered on their promise or used an historic opportunity well, to make a real and positive difference to how buildings are communicated;
They collectively entrenched Flatcad?
Forget Flatcad! It did more damage than good;
I often mention the generation of current 10 – 20 year olds (maybe because my 3 children fit in that age group); Well, if you have the luxury to observe how they communicate – do so, as these will soon be the next architects, engineers, construction managers, but also crane drivers, digger tippers, joiners, carpenters, waterproofers!
Do you Mr Autodesk (and Mr Anycad) really expect that these kids will have the patience to learn programs that come with zillions of tutorials, strings of table-based commands and slow navigating? ..Will learn how a complex building is devised, broken up into dumb electronic lines and drawn at funny angles on a digital, flat surface? ...Or use a magnifying glass up the crane-top to work out from a reduced, crumbled A3 paper where their next load is going– while a smart I_something will be organising another, ‘real-life’ in their pocket?
Time to look at what our kids are doing!





Thursday, January 20, 2011

A digital ethylene tetrafluoroethylene skinmaker?


The IKEA Home Planner.
It is intelligent: elements know their type, name, price, colour, material. They are constrained (a bed will stay on the floor, a power switch will go on the wall); The program is easy to use, intuitive and interactive. Good navigational tools. There are numerous other similar programs available on the market. As you design, you document and prepare a fully priced BOM.
Most serious professionals (architects and designers) frown at these ‘toys’.
They’d say the programs are restricting, square, boring, limiting. They hold back imagination, force conformity. They’re no good.
How come, most ‘real’ CAD packages are unable to hit all these targets?
Is the flexibility of design such a high priority with developers that all the other features described above are neglected? Can’t we have both?
I mentioned the opportunity manufacturers of products/materials have with providing clever tools: imagine if each one contributed to a pool of virtual-designing gadgets available free to architects and designers?
A digital ethylenetetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) skinmaker?  
When prompted, most manufacturers are willing to explore these ideas; The challenge is: what ‘platform’ to use? It is a near monopolistic market – one player has been ruling the roost for 3 decades: Autodesk.
They have ruled but not really delivered; Time for an open source, wiki-platform!
Who’ll fill the need? Google? Sims? Second life? Some other gaming company?


A website of a toolmaker that had been courting the above described idea for quite some time:




Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BIM building product libraries – just digital stencils or more?

Manufacturers and suppliers of building products have a long history of promoting to designers; Sometimes this is above-board, they provide informative sessions, library manuals, samples etc. Sometimes they are less ethical – promotional lunches, free products for own use, other perks; Rarely but occasionally, downright dodgy.
Do you fault manufacturers and suppliers for their marketing strategies? I do – but not that they are trying to get designers’ attention but on how they are doing it.
Manufacturers and suppliers in construction have a great opportunity but also an obligation to get their hands ‘dirty’ in developing virtual design and documenting tools;
Yes, we have had branded stencils for sanitary ware for yonks. Flatcad served up customised blocks for various brands.
Some are promoting their digital (BIM) libraries now – however I find this initiative far too weak;
What I’d love to see is intelligent digital representation of building objects that will know everything that there was to know about what they represented, from full specification to where they can be used. Comprehensiveness, common sense and clarity of expression combined with smart constraining of elements would be excellent.
Some examples of tools that are heading this way can be seen on this Hungarian website: 


Do you know others that do more than just represent building products virtually?
Tomorrow I’ll show you an IKEA example I have come across.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BIM cannot substitute for lack of fundamental technical knowledge...

I like to look at any building as a ‘kit of parts’, and while comparing construction with any type of manufacture gets frowned on, I like how buildings are made up of components, subcomponents and assemblies.
Typically, a component is any item that originates from a single source; (arrives on site as a self contained unit) and gets fixed to other components; (window, manhole cover, brick, entire facade)
The key determining factor in identifying a component is: the largest single recognisable unit supplied (and installed) by a single manufacturer or trade; Another simple rule to remember: the lead designer/architect/engineer should be responsible for junctions between components – individual trades/manufacturers for what is happening ‘inside’ their components!!!)
Under the ‘traditional system’ these components were rarely drawn. When they were drawn, it was done in the simplest terms and only for those items not available ‘off the shelf’.
BIM has changed this approach. While BIM cannot substitute for lack of fundamental technical knowledge BIM offers manufacturers of building components the opportunity to get better presence for their products on the market but also influence where and how their products are used; There is quite an opportunity to provide USEFUL tools to designers and construction documenters/managers that are also promoters as well.
Manufacturers, step up and lead! 
More tomorrow.



Monday, January 17, 2011

Picture book documenting: a good way to ease into BIM!

Traditional working drawing methods were based on the idea that the designer has developed a solution to a problem and that needed to be turned into a reality by people of varying skills and most not party to the initial brief or the reasons that were behind the solution.
The basic principles of A3 based ‘picture book documenting’ are not that different from traditional drafting, the aim being to achieve:

1.       An accurate and complete record of the designer’s intentions
2.       Easily understood by all concerned
3.       Comprehensive and sufficiently detailed for its purpose (LOD)
4.       Easily retrievable and searchable
5.       Technically sound (buildable)

There are differences though:
1/ Scale – everything is scalable within LOD limits; views are set up to be easily read at A3 size (if A1s are needed the entire book is enlarged)
2/ 3D views are used ahead of 2D projections
3/ Ease of navigation is highest priority, misleading and ‘stuffing up’ of documentation is prohibited;

So, reading this, you can say, what is new in this? Remarkably little in principle but a significant advantage is gained when applied;
Check the file provided;
With one press of a button a user can access information that complies with all 5 points described.
Paper copies may be needed for contractual and approval processes ‘sheets’ from the book can be printed, bookmarked, referenced;







Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why do we use silly scales when documenting buildings?

I prepared a file that shows the basic principles of A3 based ‘picture book documenting’. (will post soon); Before I describe the approach, I need to cover another tool in the building documenter’s kit: the scale;
Historically building documenters used scales to draw objects in exact proportion to their true size, Common metric scales were 1:100, 1:50, 1:20, 1:10 and 1:5; 1:25 was less favoured though with the advent of the A1/A3 output partnership it gained some traction (1:25 reduced turned into 1:50).
While studying architecture a quarter of a century ago I was encouraged not to use a scale ruler;
We were told to measure with a normal ruler and work dimensions out in our heads and were assured, that in time we will be able to ‘see sizes’; Look at a door, you’ll be able to tell what scale the drawing was drawn at and estimate sizes of spaces; The imperative was that the entire drawing was true-to-scale and where a dimension was critical, it was noted as such;
Roll in Flatcad and da-da: we now have scales ranging from 1:150 through 1:400 to 1:725; Combine these with the ‘do not scale’ instruction, the reduced-size outputs and suddenly your job becomes even more difficult;
Are there not enough challenges anyway with documenting buildings to be disadvantaging ourselves with using silly scales as well?

(am sick today – so blog a bit off-beat too)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A common disclaimer that is a major roadblock to any progress with BIM

In the mid nineties, Mark Burry – a lecturer at VUW (School of Architecture) was photographed with a CD to promote his course. The capture said, ‘this is the medium soon entire buildings will be documented on and handed to contractors to build from.’ This quote is totally from memory – no offence intended for inaccuracy. This ad was published in the local newspaper.
I am still waiting to see the prediction happen;
These days DVDs do get handed over in Tenders and BID documents, they carry however information not much different from a trailer-load of paper drawings, printed specifications, graphs.
I don’t think that was what Mark meant when he was referring to digitally documenting yet-to-be-built buildings.
I dare to speculate, based on some hazy memories that he was predicting contractors setting the environment of building-communication where the digital data was carried between parties with data integrity intact.
Mark and I presented a conference paper in Vienna in 1997; During the research for my part I contacted Joern Utzon, in his eighties at the time. To my delight he responded;
In my numerous shifts over the years since, his letter got misplaced but I remember it as being encouraging of the use of digital tools to document complex buildings.
Picture book documenting tomorrow, today a common disclaimer.
Also a major roadblock to any progress with BIM.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Do we need to work on larger desks or expand our minds?

I am getting interesting ‘offline’ comments. Many choose to ‘sit on the fence’ and wait and see.
I must not be ungrateful – the support of this blog has been excellent, albeit largely invisible to outsiders.
I talked previously about the irony of CAD managers (preventing ‘Flatcad grow up and move on’) being put in charge to herald in the ‘new’ (BIM) approach;
There is another paradox the industry can claim:
Buildings get documented by building documenters.
Generally they work in offices and on computers placed on modestly sized desks.
Should not matter much – we work in virtual environment, where even Flatcad provides endless space to document entire cities in infinite detail and 1:1 scale.
A scroll-mouse is needed and a flat screen and there is a pleasant working environment.
Wait on – there is another part of this communication story: the outputs; These are controlled by two forces – one is a combination of contractual requirements and lack of understanding of processes the other governed by economy and size preference; So, we output everything on A1 sheets as well as A3s (same information reduced);
A1s because we have to and A3s because they are cheap to reproduce and fit onto our desks.
Why are we basing an entire industry’s communication on information provided in such bad shape?
I’ll tell you about A3 based ‘picture book documenting’ tomorrow.





Thursday, January 13, 2011

Push the lifts up to the top of the building!

Have you downloaded my ‘lift‘ file yet? Do it now! Then, tell me – how long did it take you to push the 4 lifts from their starting position at the bottom of the building to the top?
Gimmicky? Not, at all; In this ‘simple’ (and small) file you’ll find numerous features of good BIM.
I talk often about how ‘good BIM does this or that’; I have been dodging defining my BIM so far and to some extent I intent to stick with that.
BIM is such a great acronym, unfortunately, rarely used unequivocally. Not surprisingly though –  take the two ends – ‘building’ can be a noun or a verb, same can the ‘model’; So are we modelling building information or are we building (an) information model?
Often you see BIMM instead, where one of the Ms is for Modelling, the other for Management; Managing Building Information by using (a) Model;
I can see traditional documentation as a type of BIM too, Building information management centred on multiple 2D drawings (BIMD) and Flatcad is BIM as well – Building Information Management based on electronically produced disconnected 2D drawings (BIMF). Strictly speaking both drawings – traditional and digital are models too  – representations of future buildings.
Why does all this matter? Well, I believe that these acronyms are often used to misinform as much if not more as to inform.

 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We document buildings by constantly ‘reinventing the wheel’ (RTW);

How do we document buildings? By constantly ‘reinventing the wheel’ (RTWo distinction is made between ‘mundane tasks’ (that can be automated, controlled and performed cheaply) and ‘important tasks’ (unavoidably risky but manageable);
In the case of the ramp and overbridge: A brief was written; A consultant designed it; Design was approved and documented; Consents were given, building constructed;
Using a RTW approach, each stage would have taken a loooong time with little results. Each party handling the documents would have needed to interpret, understand, assess the information and make a decision;
There is an alternative BIM approach:
I like to look at any building as a ‘kit of parts’.
Generally, the terminology is applies to modular and prefabricated buildings – I extend it to building parts and assemblies that are also ‘typical’ over a large range of buildings but are neither prefabricated nor fully standardised;
The consultant designing the ramp would have previously developed the intelligent kit of parts containing: Numerous versions of complying ramps (straight, circular, concrete, steel..), the bridge’s elements, the stairs; Each element would have carried non graphical parameters as well, like materials, cost, availability... Multiple options of design could then have been prepared in minimal time, presented, documented and checked for compliance simultaneously.
In the first case, valuable time is spent on the mundane, in the second the mundane is automated.

Download this file: (related question will be published tomorrow)
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B4GF8MRLb0DAMTUwMzlkZWUtYWYxNS00ODVhLWIzMGItZjg3YTMwYzZmZGFj&hl=en_GB&authkey=COG1r_cB









Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ramps that can not - not comply with building codes


Many in construction believe, that because all buildings are unique, one-off-creatures created through a high percentage of manual labour, there is little room for automating tasks and applying quality control based on discipline and efficiency. Standardising operating procedures into easily replicable processes is looked at as being not appropriate to construction and even less for the design process, something being the realm of manufacture only. Still, creating buildings is a lot about how consistency is achieved.
I find it amazing that an industry that churns out ‘products’ in billions of dollars annually is constrained by haphazard, unscientific processes that carry huge amounts of (often unnecessary) risks;
The construction industry is like others and standardisation and sound quality management practices can be applied. The trick is in knowing what and where.
How to separate the Mundane from what Matters?
Take for example yesterday’s ramps: The NZ Building code is pretty specific what parameters an accessible ramp should have. There are BIM tools that will allow objects to have built-in controls for these code specific parameters. When these objects are set up properly they control what a user can do with them. This on its own would not make the previously mentioned councillors suddenly see what the impact of a 70+m ramp will have on the GE Village but would do a lot of good. More tomorrow.


Monday, January 10, 2011

KiwiRail removes 'eyesore' ramps

Today, I digress from big picture BIM issues, focusing on New Zealand. Check out a local news item: In Auckland a  pedestrian ramp over a railway, built less than 5 years ago is being demolished because of the locals’ outcry (NZHerald’s article);
It cost $1.8M to build it, $0.6M to remove it; Would have cost less than $600 (0.0006M) to properly model it, not just for the consultation and approval processes but also construction;
This is of course over-simplifying the issue. I could not resist commenting! Look at another article:
“..Fellow Waitakere councillor and former Glen Eden mayor Janet Clews acknowledged that although her community had been denied the benefit of an information open day, unlike others along the western railway line, council staff had been shown drawings of the new bridge.
"We really should have picked it up earlier - but nobody could ever have recognised from those, the scale that turned up."” (NZHerald, June 21, 2007)
I like this last statement: let’s build a 1.8M investment – the drawings look good, sad we are unable to assess the size it will turn up at!
So, mister ‘building owner’, you failed miserably here. This was not even a stadium! (I’ll come back to that later).
Tomorrow , I plan to speculate a bit on what may have happened on this project;




Sunday, January 9, 2011

18 pairs of rafters in the cottage


There were no trusses. 18 pairs of rafters. In the cottage. If you had trouble working this out, ask your child to do it for you; Not mocking you, just giving an incentive to understand how today’s kids communicate; You’d need to tell them what a truss is, maybe even what the difference between a truss and a rafter. But the rest, they’d figure out.
Building owners. A diverse bunch of physical and legal entities, ranging from a family reroofing a garage to a country-government building a new city; One can argue that they have enormously varied needs, budgets, tastes, responsibilities. There is something truly common to all: When they are involved with the construction industry they all embark on a process that they hope will result with a new/improved building. So, in theory they should not care much about types of communication. Whether plans are scratched into stone-slabs, charcoaled onto paper or modelled in a multi dimensional virtual environment, as long as the end-results meet their expectations. That being a building built to a preset budget, quality and time. But more often than not, they don’t. Meet expectations. Even when expectations are pitched quite low, to match ‘reasonable’ within the industry. Still, apart from low level ‘grumbling’ there seems to be an acceptance that these things are ‘unavoidable’. Well, are there really?


Friday, January 7, 2011

How many trusses does the Cormilligan Cottage have?

Reading my posts you may assume that I like whinging. Maybe, do be patient; There will be plenty of thoughts on how I believe we can make this work too; Perhaps not for everyone, especially if the verdict is ‘revolution’,... all will be revealed in time.
I often hear people say – this (as in BIM way of work) is a lot like when we ditched the T square 20 years ago. Sorry, it is not; Flatcad is not a natural stepping stone on the way to reaching BIM – It is a ‘dead end road’ that has been maintained as the ‘standard’ by those with vested interest in the tools and those that are unprepared to accept the need to raise quality of work.
Flatcad should have been a means of achievement of higher goals had we moved from it the moment other conditions for real BIM were ready. Hardware and communication practice.
The sad fact is, that hardware specs, their affordability and usability has improved rapidly over the years followed by a prompt change in how we communicate in everyday life by adopting more fluid, user needs addressed, dynamic methods.
Flatcad refused to act as a stepping stone and become a big boulder of a liability in the river of the industry.
Question: How many trusses does the Cormilligan Cottage have? (see link – Use Acrobat)



https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B4GF8MRLb0DANGMzMTM0OTgtMTQwNS00OWE2LWJlYjktMDMyMmRkMTEwYjc1&hl=en_GB&authkey=CPWts8AP 

Flatcad now defined;


Last  time building owners took an interest in who called the shots was when ‘project managers’ got established in a central role,  independent from design consultants. I have a lot of respect for PMs  in construction. It takes a great amount of skills to do what they do. Their highest achievement: making themselves absolutely essential on all building projects from reroofing granny’s garage to building entire new cities.
I wish they did tackle the Flatcad syndrome now.
Flatcad? Definition: Computer aided drafting that uses purely orthogonal projections and ignores most of the rules and principles of ‘traditional’ documenting. When you produce a technical drawing by hand you do: 1/ work on various projections simultaneously; 2/ set these views out in a logical order; 3/ (most importantly) you think what you draw and where and how much of it; Flatcad has ‘copy and paste’, within very short timeframes almost anyone can produce huge amounts of ‘drawings’. You’ll find small buildings documented using hundreds and hundreds of sheets. Larger developments will go into thousands; What is behind this phenomenon? 1/ lack of technical skills in ‘grassroots’ levels of documenting 2/lack of understanding by management (consultancy, project, company etc) on what is going on at ‘grassroots’ levels 3/ the control CAD managers have, often puppeteered by software vendors;
Unconvinced? Tomorrow, I’ll post an example how I wrestle flatcad.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

BIM will not happen until building owners start asking for it


Surprisingly, building owners tend not question why their ‘cakes’ KEEP turning up misshapen, bitter and overpriced; Building-creation is an industry that is based on high level of speculation, ‘endless’ rise of property values as well as supported by propaganda machines reinforcing the idea of construction being a totally unmanageable and unpredictable beast.
Or, USED to be the case up to a year or two ago. The ‘bubble reportedly burst’ since and the times of senseless construction have (supposedly) changed. The GEC has brought the construction industry down to the ground. Indeed, building owners are tightening their budgets and want more accountability and better value for their money. But is this happening in a meaningful way? Could it be happening realistically, when we have an industry characterised by: 1/ a communication language highly outdated and risky (flatcad based); 2/ intentional misleading of clients by those in charge of their projects 3/information fatigue not controlled but encouraged.
It is widely accepted that BIM would fix these 3 issues for clients, however BIM will not happen until building owners start asking for it; Why? Because there is too much vested interest in the status quo. Design consultants, software vendors and project managers all have vested interest in keeping building owners BIM illiterate and stop them demand buildings get documented BIM way. Time for owners to get BIM educated!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

BIM promotes inbuilt authentication of information within processes and replaces information fatigue by gradual verification of data


Let me throw another player in the game, called: “integrity of project information”; Most of construction projects suffer from lack of it. When it comes to truthfulness of project information there is very little to find; In short: there are lots of drawings but very little information you can trust. No dimensions, levels or explicit instructions. And you are not allowed to scale off drawings.
What this reminds me of? Using a recipe to make a complicated cake that gives an incomplete and confusing list of ingredients, fragmented instructions on how to put them together, no indication on dosage and definitely no clarification on cooking time or temperature.
It amazes me, how even the savviest building owners tend not to question this information environment. They are letting their cakes be made out of very dubious recipes. No wonder they turn up all a bit bitter and expensive? “Flatcad” loves and thrives in this environment. And it spends a lot of time convincing you that this state of affairs is inevitable.
On the other hand, producing documentation this way is very hard using BIM.
While not foolproof, BIM promotes inbuilt authentication of information within processes and replaces information fatigue by gradual verification of data.
BIM bakes your cake as you expect it and lets you it eat. BIM ensures integrity of information.
“Flatcad” hates it.