I spent the last few weeks practicing how to get a good BIM workflow going between different disciplines. To kick-start the process I used the Autodesk Revit Out-of-the-Box (OOTB) advanced project samples. The upshot is that, while the Architectural and Structural models are close to one another, the Mechanical one is not. These samples were definitely not created with BIM collaboration as the main goal, but they still provided me a good start. Revit is parametric, so moving a few grid lines and levels went a long way towards aligning the models with each other. Autodesk would do well to provide the greater community of Revit users sample models that may simply be linked in by shared coordinates and that are perfectly aligned.
Pretending to be each of the main disciplines, reminded me that, while it is good to be able to work remotely, it might be a great idea for the BIM teams to share an office at the beginning. This is not critical but it does make it easier to come to grips with the BIM method, especially if it is new to the participants and the understanding of how to work with each other is properly understood.
Consider the fire designation on doors, for instance. Is it really necessary to pass ownership of the doors from one discipline to the next and back again simply to indicate what fire rating a door should have? Why not just invite the Engineer to sit at the Architects computer and add the information directly into their model? The technology exists to do this remotely as well (it’s called Collaboration for Revit, and the Europeans love it). But it is comforting to meet the Engineer and to understand they will collaborate and add only the information they need to. One really needs to think wider than one’s own role here.
Getting together in the same office at the start of deciding to collaborate on BIM is perhaps just what the doctor ordered. Once the personalities are comfortable with each other, and they clearly understand how to go about their job (under the guidance of the BIM Protocol), remote collaboration should be a welcome change in the South African Environment. Why shouldn’t professionals work together?