Thursday, March 29, 2012

BIM in ‘limbo’ when owners are concerned

I’m the first one to accept, that AEC is not the ‘smartest tool in the shed’ when it comes to its ability as an industry to shape its own fortunes.
For long I have been moaning over the unfortunate lack of ‘fluidity’ and forward thinking even amongst the most innovative strategists within the field.
Still, skimming through masses of calls, for building owners to be the driving force for BIM (or similarly environmental consciousness) that are currently saturating industry forums, I am surprised.

Recently I’ve been referring to the current era as the ‘post-gambling world of construction’.
I may have been a bit premature with those statements.
Over the last twelve months the gambling behaviours of the ‘building owners’, large and small, still in the game have actually become, if possible more extreme and gambler-like.
Price shootouts, BAFOs and other flavours of the ‘how low can you go’ dances are daily set up all over the world to help the best deal secured for owners of bathroom alteration as well as new stadia.

It is time to change the record:
Owners will not drive BIM when the odds are so well stacked for them!
This is the time when BIM could be the weapon of choice for those that want to remain playing the ‘limbo’ without going out of business, i.e. the consultants and contractors.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Open BIM? Are we living on the same planet? Working in the same (AEC) industry?

Really, get real!
AEC is an industry that en-masse fights tooth-and-nail the release of any type of digital file to another party.
Archicad and Tekla are old enough to know this.
Yet, they act like naive children.
If they were participating in a warfare-exhibition, they’d be bringing little peace-flowers as their offerings.
While this could be considered provocative and/or cute, it is unlikely to impress the heavyweights shopping for the latest and greatest in weaponry.

I consider myself to be a peace-loving person.
Still, enough war-history has brushed over my family even in one century to be able to distinguish a ‘tool’ from a ‘weapon’.
But this ‘open BIM’ thing is neither, just a ‘let’s play nicely together’ ploy.  
And it is not going to work.

Adding to injury is basing ‘open BIM on IFC’.  
I sure have tried using IFC time after time. Have ended up with twisted columns, disappearing slabs.
Indeed, in my last experiment when I compared an IFC export from a relatively simple Revit file with a file resulted from a two-stepped-translation (Revit-DWF-3DS), the second file was significantly closer to the original.
Yes, it was a totally ‘washed out’ file, no intelligence, but give me dumb any time if I can be sure that the geometry will be fine, as opposed to ‘false smart’ with columns twisting this way and that.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hama Beads theory

‘Please help me to convince my management to go for BIM’ is a request that regularly pops-up on blogs, real and virtual forums where AEC professionals gather.
It is often responded to people offering well meaning recommendations, strategies to employ, tools to use.

I usually (mostly internally) question the idea that you can, or even ‘should-try-to’ convince anyone to go BIM.
Any manager operating in the ‘post-gambling AEC’ era worth his/her salt should have by now considered BIM.
Even if s/he did not know it existed, s/he should have searched for something like it by now, or has had his/her head in the sand and little knowledge about his/her own project.
A waste of time attempting to influence.

To back up this theory, I present you with the latest (and probably lamest) of my BIM-analogies.
Simple it may be, I challenge anyone to disprove it:

Non-BIM AEC projects are run like this:
The project-information is a jar of Hama beads (pictured).
Every time, anyone needs to do anything to anything related the project, the person goes to the jar, and looks for the relevant bit of information.
It may be there, may not.
It may be on the bottom or in the middle. May take seconds to find, or an eternity.
Next time, next person, same story.

Smart AEC-managers use BIM, to fight the ‘jar-problem’.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On giant spaghetti and BIM User groups…

My friend Bhanu presented last night at the buildingSMART user group’s monthly meeting.
An enthusiastic Revit supporter, I respect Bhanu also for his open-mindness and preparedness to listen to alternative ideas. So, I went along.
I was also interested to see where he’d taken the ‘giant bowl of spaghetti project’ we jointly started up about a year ago and I had abandoned while still at the earth-worm stage.  

Bhanu duly acknowledged my presence (thank you) and certainly impressed me with the completed file. 
Clash detection give-or-take, this spin-able, coordinated digital model was well worth the effort. Especially when I recall the media used for design interpretation prior to Bhanu’s model being in existence. 
Admittedly, there was a pretty good Sketchup model coming from one of the specialists, a petty for all, that due to its heaviness, no computer could manipulate it within the office.

Driving home, another question kept annoying me: ‘BIM user groups’.
Why are they called such?
Shouldn’t they be ‘BIM practitioners’ groups’ instead?
The latter term sounds more appropriate to me, yet ‘BIM user groups’ prevail in all searches I’ve conducted.
It may just be an innocent residue from dominant software user-assembly naming practices, I wonder.
Unless, of course the members boldly wish to convey a message I was so far unaware of.
‘We use BIM to achieve something!’…
But what?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I have a dream...

It goes a bit like this:
A weekday afternoon, evening almost, the streetlights on for the special effects, just got home from work, the backpack left at the front door.
I go through the local rag; husband is cooking dinner, something nice involving spuds and chicken, kids glued into their tumblers and bbms. The cat is squeaking at the back door, longingly looking at the inviting darkness of the handkerchief garden we carefully maintain.

The bell rings.
Not an overly loud noise, almost drowned by the chatter of the girls and ‘weekday night’s jazz with Suzy’.
Thankfully, I hear it – get to the door – no one in a rush, to bit me to it;

The man standing there is in a business-suit, white shirt and a pastel tie, slightly askew.
Shiny shoes, two mobiles, some wiring coming from his ear, could be a handless-set left there in a hurry; Keys poke out from a trouser pocket.

He whispers feebly:

“I hear you are a BIM expert, a very good one.
We need your help! Can you come now?”

He begs, his face scrunched.
I turn around to grab my backpack, simultaneously kick off the slippers and put on my work shoes.
I jump into the car, within seconds we are whizzing on the highway readying to assist.

Oh, to be needed like this, just once!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The question of the questions

Presented at another conference, where the delegates only just outnumbered the speakers and one presenter went twice over his allocated timeframe.
A practice that annoys me immensely, more than the offending should reasonably warrant...
The range of teas on offer was sadly, also pretty ordinary...

Still, something profound was said.
Can’t quote the ‘gem’ verbatim, went a bit like this:
“when our clients ask the questions, it is much easier to give them the answers”

Even in my ‘straight’ architectural days, I realised that some services needed two-layers-of marketing to sell, while others only one.
Promoting architect-services to residential clients involved a ‘create-a-need’ stage, despite most clients ‘knowing-what-they-wanted’.
Contrast this with a person suffering from a sore-tooth.
As a dentist you wouldn’t need to sell him he ‘needed’ to see one.
Nor to a bride-to-be, the importance of wedding-cakes, give her a choice of good cake-makers instead.

BIM is like architecture, a two-tiered service: first you need to create the ‘need’,
then you sell yourself as the best one to fulfil that necessity.

These days, some potential BIM clients ask ‘questions’ unprompted, as opposed to have to place them in their minds first.

I still rate them as ‘first tier’ questions and judge their BIM awareness:
The Dumbest is ‘What software do you use in your organisation?’ and the
Smartest: ‘Who BIMs within your organisation?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

BIM surveys

I get these often, 1-3 every month, on average.
Requests to participate in BIM-related surveys.

The people involved are generally nice-enough; politely ask for mere 10 minutes of my time.
Ten minutes are not a big deal for me; I frequently squander much larger chunks of-my time on activities that bring dubious benefits to the people around me, let alone the entire BIM community...

Still, most of the times, I decline the opportunity to participate.
I have my reasons. Two, at least:
·       The first one is my strong-held belief, that BIM is not a ‘science’ that has a shortcut to-it, you’ve got to earn your stripes by doing the hard-work in a related, ‘real’ field. 
And over quite a long period of time.
Not that one should not start on BIM early, absolutely must, straight from kindergarten – but not as a career, rather a means, to an end.
·        The second reason of mine is highly subjective too, based on some bad experience:
I do not trust BIM-surveys!
Far too often the results of these ‘honest investigations’ become ‘instant validations’ to questionable claims, bases used to build on theories with wobbly foundations.

I may be letting down the BIM-industry through my refusal to be BIM - surveyed – so be it.
Let the future be the judge.