You’re Doing BIM Wrong

August 15, 2018

Here at ZenTek we do a lot of consulting work with architectural, engineering and MEP firms, so I get to have a lot of conversations with folks on the concept of Building Information Modeling (BIM). In this day and age, I’ve yet to talk to a design firm that doesn’t use BIM at some level . . . or so they think! Oh, don’t get me wrong, these folks are doing exactly what they’ve been told is BIM, and honestly believe that they are using it effectively. The problem is, they’ve been lied to.


At some point, during my time talking to clients, the topic of BIM will arise, and they will assure me that their firm is: “Fully invested in BIM, we use it for all our projects!” That sounds great, and it’s exactly as it should be, but then I throw a monkey wrench into the entire conversation by asking crazy questions like “What LOD are you designing to?” or “How are you enacting your BIM Implementation Policy across multi-discipline designs?” or, worst of all:  “What format do you present BIM data to your clients in, so they can adapt it for CAFM?” Those questions usually get me blank stares and open jaws, with the chirping of crickets distinctly heard in the background. The only answer I ever seem to get is “Well . . . we use Revit, you see? So, it’s all drawn in BIM . . .”


That’s the problem right there. Most of us confuse BIM and 3D Modeling, thinking they’re the same thing, and they’re not. Oh, 3D Models are extremely helpful - we can use them for clash detection and they provide predefined assemblies to speed up the creation of construction documents and details, etc. Products like Revit are extremely powerful for design firms . . . I am in no way knocking their functionality. I’m just pointing out that they are not Building Information Models. They can become one, if they’re developed properly, but they almost never are. The confusion comes from software marketing, I think. Software firms like to market their products as “Integrated BIM Solutions” or other such new-speak nonsense, when all they really are is a BIM tool. Saying a 3D CAD system is a “BIM Solution” is like calling a tire iron a “High-performance race car building system!” It sounds great, and increases sales, but at the end of the day it’s just one tool in a complex process.


A real Building Information Model provides not just a 3D design tool, but information about the size, shape, manufacturer, and model of every single item needed to build that design. It can provide current ordering information, installation instructions, and warranty information for all those parts. It will even allow you to do detailed quantity takeoff and provide a data set that is a valuable deliverable to your clients, that can be used as the basis for ongoing Facility Management of the final building/site. This is the real side of BIM that very few of us ever look at. We may know about it at a high level, but most firms shy away from it because the process of developing, organizing, implementing, and delivering that much data is daunting. In short, most of us don’t know where to start.


The good news is that it’s not as tough as you might think, and ZenTek can help you get your BIM Implementation Plan developed, set up, and used on every design project you run. We can work with you to develop a Level of Development (LOD) requirement for your design staff and all sub-contractors. We can work with you to pre-populate systems like Revit, with repeatable metadata you need to share on each job and even integrate all that into your company design and communications standards. You need to integrate your current 3D modeling process with real BIM information. That means developing a detailed plan on how to use that data effectively, so you can provide value to your clients that the competition can’t. That means winning more jobs! Reach out to ZenTek Consultants today to start a conversation about the “Real way to BIM!”


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