The Benefits of the Cloud for a BIM Manager

Over the past several years, there seems to be a trend for the AECO industry to move their data to the cloud. Many areas of our business are being affected by this movement including file sharing, collaborative documents, and knowledge sharing.

Although the adoption of cloud technologies has continued to grow exponentially, there are many opinions on the pros and cons of implementing cloud technology. In today’s post, we’ll cover the top three benefits of cloud technology as it applies directly to a BIM manager.

#1 Access Anywhere

As with any cloud storage solution, the most obvious benefit of moving data to the cloud is its accessibility from any device with an internet connection. Conventionally, IT departments would need to be involved in setting up any sort of remote access to a local network drive.

This ease-of-access proves to be particularly useful for BIM managers who work with multiple offices or have team members that work on a construction site. For example, if a VDC coordinator or BIM specialist is working remotely and needs access to the company’s library of standard Revit families, a cloud solution such as UNIFI Pro would significantly reduce the amount of effort it would take to give that user remote access.

#2 Automated Revisioning

Many will agree that one of the benefits of cloud storage for file sharing is the automated versioning capability. Cloud providers such as Dropbox, Egnyte, and Google Drive all provide revisions of any files that you overwrite, mitigating the risk of accidental overwriting of files and loss of data.

Digital assets, Revit families and other forms of BIM and CAD content should be treated no differently, which is why UNIFI pro provides a full change management system which allows you track the revisions of any content stored in the cloud. UNIFI not only automatically logs who changed what and when, but also allows users to add notes so that the team can always reference the revision history of a file.

#3 Cloud Computing

Simply put, cloud computing allows users to make changes to data by using a remote server, aka “the cloud”. This allows you to free up your local machine for other tasks while the cloud delivers the computing services over the internet.

One example of how UNIFI Pro uses cloud computing is it’s automated Revit version upgrade feature. Any Revit content that is uploaded to UNIFI (e.g., loadable families, system families, schedules, materials, and more) is future-proofed by our cloud. Said differently, you’ll no longer need to upgrade your Revit family libraries manually or maintain libraries for multiple versions of Revit, because our cloud will do so automatically.

Embrace the Cloud

These are just a few benefits of the cloud for BIM managers. As you can see, there are many opportunities to save time and money by letting the cloud handle your data and do the computing for .you. Contact us for an evaluation of how we can help you move your BIM content to the cloud to maximize your team’s productivity.

August 28 @ 11 am PDT: Webinar Invite

Our webinar guest this month is none other than Marcello Sgambelluri, PE SE, blogger for Simply Complex and Director of Advanced Technology at John A. Martin & Associates. You may know him as the #1 speaker at six Autodesk University conferences, or perhaps you know him as the #1 speaker at nine BILT conferences around the world. If you aren’t familiar with his work, he has built a reputation in the AEC space around his expertise in Dynamo and software development and has a passion for sharing his work.

Join us for a discussion around Marcello’s Dynamo package, Simplex, which leverages multiple APIs including ETABS, SAP, Bentley’s RAM, Tekla, and even Microsoft Word. In addition, UNIFI’s own Strategic Solutions Lead, Jay Merlan, will present the custom Dynamo nodes he has been cooking up which use UNIFI’s own API offerings.

Click here to register now.

Dimensions – August 2019

2019 has been an extremely busy year so far at UNIFI Labs!  We’ve been working hard on several major releases that represent significant steps forward towards our goal of facilitating common data environments for building lifecycle stakeholders. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have delivered the ability to Search By Parameter to our users a few months back. In addition, we recently released our Project Analytics and Content Management APIs, and are enjoying seeing how our customers leverage these offerings to build on and customize our platform.

Speaking of our amazing customers, one of the most frequent questions they ask us at events is, “How’s business?” We recognize that the growth of our platform is a critical factor in enabling fluid data collaboration for our customers, as each new organization on our platform represents another building lifecycle stakeholder whose BIM content can be seamlessly shared with their selected design partners through UNIFI.

With that in mind, I’d like to step out of character for a moment and rather than geek out on our tech, share a quick #humblebrag about three major growth milestones we’ve recently achieved which speak to the scalability of our platform:

•Over 300 organizations now leverage UNIFI to manage, structure and search across their BIM data. We’re storing over 17 million Revit files, and the ability to granularly index the parameter data associated with this magnitude of content has been no small feat! Our development team is dedicated to ensuring our platform scales seamlessly to support the ever-expanding libraries and datasets that our customers are managing to successfully deliver projects.

•We have over 10,000 monthly active users accessing the platform from around the world on a monthly basis. What does that mean in terms of ROI for our customers? Well, if the average designer searches for content just 5 times a week and saves 2 minutes over their legacy method of accessing content, that means our customers are saving over 1600 hours of wasted time per week!

•Amidst this rapid pace of growth, we’ve realized a 98% customer retention rate. This number is what gives our team the most pride, as it represents the results of our commitment to journeying with our customers. A new customer is exciting, but a renewal means the most to our team because it means a company didn’t just sign up for our platform – they successfully deployed to realize the full ROI of their investment in our platform and team.

In closing, a huge thank you to all of our customers. Whether you’ve been with us since day one or are just beginning to bring Better BIM ™ to your organization with UNIFI, we wouldn’t be here without you. You make everything we do worthwhile, and we sincerely appreciate you trusting us to build a better now and enable a better future for your organization. 

Construction Logistics Planning with UNIFI

construction logistics planningUNIFI is arguably most well-known throughout the AECO industry for increasing efficiency throughout the design phases of a project. In addition to designers, we also have contractors on our platform who has seen value in utilizing UNIFI for their design-build or self-perform work.

But what value can we bring to general contractors and construction managers? Well, we think we have quite a bit to offer for the GC’s and CM’s who are striving for more data-driven processes to help with construction site logistics.

UNIFI has taken on the challenge of making it easy for superintendents, project managers, and project engineers (i.e., team members who aren’t a VDC coordinator) to work directly in Revit to “design” their construction sites, all while creating a usable dataset which can inform estimates, construction schedules, and coordination.

Challenges of Construction Logistics Planning

construction logistics planning

Every construction site is unique due to building design and the location of the jobsite. This can impose significant risks when disrupting the surrounding city such as impacting traffic and introducing safety hazards when the site logistics aren’t planned properly.

Some construction site logistics are relatively easy to plan, however large projects in dense urban environments require a solid construction site logistics plan. Just imagine the number of subcontractors on-site, most of which would need their own laydown yard and staging area.

I think we can all agree that lack of control at the construction site and inferior planning can lead to material losses and extra costs, as well as hazards for workers on site.How are contractors doing construction logisitics planning today?

construction logistics planning

It is very common to see construction site logistics being planning using 2D markups on a PDF (or basic shapes drawn in CAD). This workflow has been the de facto standard for years which has the obvious benefit of ease of use for the superintendents, project managers, or project engineers who may not be tech-savvy.

The downside of this method is that because these drafting exercises are typically produced on PDFs or CAD files, they produce very little structured data, if any. Quantity takeoffs and estimates can be extracted using powerful tools like Bluebeam and AutoCAD, however this data is often replicated elsewhere for estimates or construction scheduling.

One risk of using a static PDF throughout the preconstruction phases is the iterative nature of the design models. The building design is constantly changing, even throughout the construction phases. With that being said, there is a risk of planning construction site logistics on a static PDF or CAD export due to the drawing being disconnected from the design model.

UNIFI helps with Construction Logistics Planning

construction logistics planning

The concept of leveraging BIM data during site logistics planning seems to be a no-brainer, however, there is typically a major challenge in ease-of-use for the non-VDC team members such as superintendents, project managers, and project engineers.

The good news is, UNIFI’s suite of tools and services focus on simplifying the process of modeling construction sites in Revit, as well as making BIM data easier to consume for team members of any technical skill level.

UNIFI Pro Makes it Easy to Find and use Revit Families

construction logistics planning

UNIFI Pro, our cloud-based content management system, is mostly known for increasing efficiency during the design phases of a project. Perhaps we can start to look at construction site logistics planning as a “design phase” for the superintendent, project manager, and project engineer. I mean, they are technically “designing” the layout of their construction site.

These non-VDC stakeholders often have limited knowledge of Revit, which is why it is common for them to turn to a PDF markup. If your goal is to implement more data-centric processes, perhaps PDFs for logistics planning is a workflow that can be improved by using BIM.

UNIFI Pro makes it as easy to plan construction site logistics in Revit by giving users of any technical skill level easy-to-use tools. The animation below is an example of what it looks like to model a construction site using UNIFI’s basic search and loading functionality.

While watching the video loop above, keep in mind that every element placed in the model can be considered a bucket of data, which can contain any amount of parameters to help you with cost estimates, construction scheduling, ownership information, product data, and more.

Easily review BIM Data as You Plan your Site Logistics

construction logistics planning

Once your site logistics are modeled in Revit, our Project Analytics tool will help you gain visibility into the model data without any additional add-ins, custom Dynamo graphs, or inefficient workflows. Typically, a VDC coordinator would have to generate a PDF or export a schedule to help the non-VDC team members review model data, however, anytime you disconnect data from the model, you’re at risk of referencing outdated information.

Although much of the insights in Project Analytics are useful for VDC managers (for monitoring model health and quality), the ability to review live Revit model data can prove to be useful for construction site logistics planning as well. Keep in mind that this data is refreshed anytime a user syncs, so the risk of having outdated information is eliminated.

With this live BIM data readily available through any web browser, all team members have the ability to review model data without opening the model or asking the VDC coordinator to export the data.

Gain visibility of Revit Model Data Without Opening the Revit Model.

In the screenshot below, you can see that quantities can be easily reviewed in a web browser using Project Analytics. In this example, you can see how much fencing is required for the jobsite which is just one example of how live BIM data can inform your estimating and procurement processes.

construction logistics planning

In addition to the quantities displayed here, don’t forget that you can incorporate any amount of data in this families including cost parameters, manufacturer or vendor information, and/or construction phases.

Leverage Spaces in Revit Rather than Basic Shapes on a PDF.

Although Revit Spaces are typically used for engineering calculations, they can also come in handy for construction site logistics plans. These spaces can be easily color-coded in Revit, which include an automatically generated legend. Spaces can also contain any sort of data that you like, much more than a simple rectangle marked up on a PDF.

construction logistics planning

If you were to model the laydown yards and staging areas as Revit Spaces, you’ll have the ability to easily review the square footage or square meters in Project Analytics. In addition, you’ll have the ability to add parameters to these spaces, giving you yet another bucket to hold your site logistics data.

construction logistics planning

Smart Construction  Logistics with UNIFI

construction logistics planning

I hope this post has inspired you to evaluate your current construction logistics planning processes and identify areas of improvements. By generating BIM data rather than drawings in the early phases of planning your construction site, you can take your logistics plans to the next level with data that can inform your 4D construction schedules, cost estimates, and more. You’ll even have the option to generate a pretty picture to boot!