Grimshaw is a global architecture firm with offices around the world, employing over 500 people. The practice covers architecture, planning and industrial design across all major sectors. Grimshaw was a pioneer in high-tech architecture, but had come to rely on low-tech solutions for content management, which created issues with consistency and the capture of content.
Holger de Groot, Office BIM Manager for Grimshaw’s Sydney studio, had seen the problem before when he was a Regional BIM Director at another firm. He saw firsthand how an outdated content management solution could slow down designers, create content inconsistencies and make it extremely difficult to conduct simple searches. When he joined Grimshaw, he found a different approach to content management, but with similar outcomes. Grimshaw mirrored its content libraries by replicating the server for its four main offices – Sydney, Melbourne, London and New York. This led to “content being stored in multiple locations without controls so that different sub-structures were created,” says de Groot.
Grimshaw’s content management strategy needed to change. A clear choice emerged, “UNIFI was the one true source of content that could be accessed from anywhere around the world with the most advanced features including its search functionality,” says Holger. In December 2016, Grimshaw started a UNIFI pilot in its Sydney and Melbourne offices for a single project in each office. All content on the server was uploaded into UNIFI, so that Grimshaw could easily change names, create tags and clean up its content. During this exercise, several instances of duplicate content were found using different container files.
The pilot was so successful in Sydney that Grimshaw decided to move “full steam ahead” with UNIFI for all the projects in the office. Along with enjoying cloud based access to a single source of content and no longer having to manually update libraries, Grimshaw could easily access manufacturing content via UNIFI Connect. “It’s a real plus to have access to content that gets directly integrated into our libraries,” says Holger of UNIFI Connect.
Some of the most interesting aspects of the Grimshaw’s content transformation were documented in a “before and after” survey circulated to the Sydney office in August 2016 (prior to UNIFI’s implementation), and in May 2017, (after UNIFI had been in use for three plus months).
- Content Quality Perception: Prior to the UNIFI pilot, content was ranked as average or “low quality” by 65% of respondents. Yet, when the same designers were asked about the quality of content in May 2017, it was “highly rated” by over 60% of the respondents, with some calling it “advanced”. The content was the same! What changed was the “quality perception” due to its presentation and content, its ease of access, including search and previews.
- Search Time Savings: The survey also highlighted significant time savings by using UNIFI. Once UNIFI was deployed, designers took half the time to find more content – translating into 3 hours “saved” each week, 120 hours annually, per designer! BIM Admins saved a lot of time as well, since they didn’t have to focus on updating content.
UNIFI offers several other benefits. In the past, content requests would have to be emailed along with CAD attachments or paper printouts, then they would be shared with various project teams for reviews and approvals, an unnecessarily labor-intensive process. Now, all content requests are reviewed, tracked, tagged and managed through UNIFI, which limits the inclusion of rogue content and streamlines the content creation & approval process.
With UNIFI’s recent release of multi-format support, any file format can be stored and searched on UNIFI. In addition to a large Revit practice, Grimshaw has many designers who use Rhino and now they can store, access, and insert the information they need from UNIFI into their models.
UNIFI has been receiving rave reviews within Grimshaw’s Sydney office which is now 100% on UNIFI. Office BIM Managers in the Practice’s other offices are now working on a global UNIFI rollout to achieve similar results. We’ll end this case study by using the words of one survey respondent, which was echoed by many: “I like that we got one true source now, allowing me to find the content I need quickly and easy.”