This review explores VisiLean, a cloud-based construction planning and scheduling application incorporating lean principles, which integrates with BIM. Its strength as a lean planning tool comes from its ability to merge the top-down approach (using, for example, the traditional Gantt Schedule) with the bottom-up approach (using the Last Planner System® that follows lean construction principles). Thus, it can be used for the entire range of scheduling activities, from the high-level planning in the office all the way down to the individual construction tasks in the field, for which there is a VisiLean mobile app. The BIM integration allows the construction schedule — including the individual tasks as well as the overall progress — to be better visualized, providing a clearer understanding of the critical issues and bottlenecks so that they can be dealt with and accounted for as the construction progresses.
Given the large number of books on BIM that have been — and continue to be — published, what makes Understanding BIM stand out is that it is authored by someone who actually developed the precursor to modern BIM applications. This was an application called SONATA and it was developed by Jonathan Ingram — in true Silicon Valley start-up style — in his attic (rather than a garage as it would be in Silicon Valley!) in England. SONATA became REfLEX, which then became ProReflex, which was acquired by PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation), from which Revit emerged as a start-up, which was then acquired by Autodesk — and then of course, as they say, the rest is history. It is fascinating to be able to look back at the origins of BIM from someone who not only had a front row seat to the game, but who actually played it — and not just played it, but actually drafted many of its rules.
This review explores BEXEL Manager, a sophisticated application for construction planning and scheduling with a wide range of capabilities including coordinating the multiple disciplinary BIM models in IFC format (3D BIM), construction planning and scheduling (4D BIM), quantity take-off and estimating (5D BIM), and finally, extending the use of the model to FM (6D BIM). In particular, it provides an integrated 4D/5D platform, which means that the scheduling and the costing are not done separately but in conjunction with each other.
FINE MEP is a complete set of BIM applications for MEP design. It is part of 4M’s multi-disciplinary BIM suite, which also includes IDEA for architectural design and FineGREEN for sustainable design and analysis. The objective of 4M, which was started in 1986 and is headquartered in Greece, continues to be to provide the design and engineering community with powerful yet low-cost applications, as with IDEA for architectural design, which I reviewed last year.
4M’s applications were initially built on top of the open-source IntelliCAD format, the low-cost alternative to AutoCAD that is compatible with the DWG file format. 4M is now also using the ODA (Open Design Alliance) Drawing Toolkit, and this, along with a 64bit architecture, has made its applications faster and more powerful. Even with these changes, their cost remains a fraction of BIM applications such as Autodesk Revit and Bentley OpenDesigner, making 4M’s applications extremely popular in many countries all over the world where cost is a key deciding factor.
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The ICL is a relatively new technology platform for developing sustainable communities that was launched by the leading performance analysis solutions vendor, IES, last year. Up until now, IES has been best known for its powerful IESVE suite of solutions focused on the in-depth performance analysis of individual buildings, allowing new buildings as well as retrofits to be designed to consume significantly less energy without sacrificing occupant comfort. With the ICL, short for “Intelligent Communities Lifecycle,” IES has expanded its expertise to larger groups of buildings such as campuses and neighborhoods. The idea is the same—to apply sustainable design concepts—but now to entire communities and not just individual buildings.
This review explores the individual components of the ICL for modeling, monitoring, and analysis, and how they can be integrated into a digital twin into a digital twin for sustainable design.
The number of cloud-based applications for the AEC industry has been steadily rising since cloud computing was introduced over a decade ago, but so far, most of these applications have been for tasks such as project management, collaboration, model-checking, issue management, and construction planning—tasks that deal primarily with content that has been already created. Applications that actually allow you to author design content using a web browser are few and far between, and even those that exist are primarily desktop applications that have been extended to work on the web, such as SketchUp and AutoCAD. This is why when I came across Infurnia, I was intrigued, because it was developed from the ground up as a cloud-based design application. There is no desktop version and nothing that needs to be installed for it to work.
So how well does it actually work? Let’s find out.
The book, Airport Building Information Modelling, is an extended case study of the implementation of BIM on the new Istanbul Airport project, which is now in operation and is currently the world’s largest airport terminal building under a single roof.
Given that the project is relatively recent, the choice to use BIM for it is hardly surprising—after all, why would any venture not want to deploy newer and more advanced technologies that are available rather than use older and outdated technologies? Thus, the book is notable not because it tells us why BIM was used for this project, but how. Also, one of its authors, Ozan Koseoglu, was the Chief Technology Officer of the project and directly responsible for its BIM implementation, making the “how” come comes straight “from the horse’s mouth,” as it were. The co-author of the book, Yusuf Arayici, comes from academia, and his research and writing expertise is reflected in the content of the book, which is well organized and structured, making the level of detail in it easy to digest and far from overwhelming.
Layer is a new AEC application that was launched close to six months ago to address what seems to be an obvious need in the industry—organizing and integrating the vast amount of disparate data that is typically collected on site during the retrofit or construction of a building project.
You would think that with all the applications we have for BIM, design coordination, model checking, project information management, construction management, document management, and project collaboration, there would be an application that could be used to easily connect notes, images, videos, task lists, etc., to their related building element. Surprisingly, there wasn’t, as the architectural firm, BVH Architecture, discovered while working on a multi-year, multi-phase rehabilitation project of the Nebraska State Capitol, which required the team to document more than 1,300 rooms with nearly 60 data points in each room. They looked hard but could not find a good solution for organizing and coordinating the vast amount of building data that they had collected—the number of photos alone was over 40,000. There was also no way to view the captured data efficiently in Revit, the BIM application they were using. They ended up developing a software solution in-house and, given that the need for such a solution was so compelling but still unmet in the marketplace, they spun it off as a separate company, Layer.
This review explores the new features for improved modeling, coordination, productivity, and performance in ARCHICAD 23, including revamped Beam and Column tools that makes these elements faster to model and fine-tune for all types of structures, a new Opening tool for modeling mechanical voids to improve coordination between architects and engineers, and an initiative to open up the application to more custom development by significantly expanding its APIs.
Visicon is a new solution in the AEC technology field which, at first glance, seems to be entering into an already crowded field of BIM viewing, model checking, coordination, and collaboration solutions. On a closer look, however, I found that it not only has a unique mix of capabilities that span model viewing, data visualization, model interrogation, and design coordination, it also has a fresh take on many of these features, the benefit of being built from scratch. The ultimate objective, however, remains the same—to create an accurate design model that meets quality control standards, which allows the data needed for downstream processes to be easily extracted from it, and which can be reviewed by anyone (for free) without requiring the original authoring application.