How Do I Get Started With BIM?

The construction industry is being faced with an unprecedented change to use BIM technologies for design, construction, and facilities management throughout the entire building life cycle. Many general contractors have already realized a wide range of benefits of BIM from their early implementation. However, there is no accepted subcontractors' strategy for incorporating BIM into daily practices.

Foundation recently hosted an educational webinar on BIM technologies for P-H-C contractors. This webinar discussed the basics of BIM technologies, cost and training needs, and best practices on BIM implementations for Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors. A recording of the webinar can be accessed by PHCC members online here.

Here are some tips on getting started with BIM from the webinar instructor, Jeong-Han Woo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management at Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Step 1. Identify a BIM champion in your company who will lead the BIM initiatives and develop a BIM implementation plan. Here is a good example: This person should develop a roadmap of BIM implementation from the overall business perspectives.

Step 2. Set up a BIM task force team. The BIM team needs to do research on hardware and software that fit to their own company and project types. Here are some software options for PHCC member companies:

  • Autodesk AutoCAD MEP - It is the front runner in high end piping program which has a very large team of developers and a larger user group.
  • Autodesk Revit MEP – As more and more companies (architects and general contractors) will switch to Autodesk Revit platform from AutoCAD, Revit MEP would be a good choice for the companies working with many Revit Architectural models. It is considered as a fully integrated with Revit Architecture. Revit is for engineering mechanical designs. If you need to produce lots of shop drawings, you need to use CADduct or CADmep. Revit and CADduct can be used simultaneously since the data is interchangeable.
  • Vico Office – This is the first software that support 5-D concept. It has 3D BIM, estimating, and scheduling in one package.
  • ArchiCAD – This is more popular software in European market.
  • Bently Bentley Building Mechanical Systems – good choice for the companies with MicroStation background.
  • CADduct and CADmep – excellent “Shop Drawing” and fabrication drawing software

There are two software for design coordination (Clash Detection)

  • Navisworks – Clash detection is the most valuable functionalities for contractors. Most of clash detection is performed in Autodesk Navisworks
  • Solibri – Perform Clash Detection with other analysis such as code checking

Step 3. Decision making on hardware and software

Step 4. Benchmarking and training. There are several trainings available from software venders. But most of them are too generic or simply software tutorials. PHCC could develop a specific BIM workshop for the members.

Step 5. Implement a pilot project.

The time to start the process is now, so you can be ready to capture work opportunities before your competition is ready.  

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