Autodesk – A Clear Vision for BIM

Autodesk is synonymous with BIM. Autodesk has provided a wide range of solutions for professionals in the construction industry, from the era of CAD to the current BIM environment. Since 1982, Autodesk has been devising innovative design software to enable their customers imagine, design and create a better world.

Datech is the Irish distributor for Autodesk products. “During my career in Autodesk Distribution, I’ve seen the industry go from paper to CAD and now to BIM,” says John Bennett, General Manager, Datech Ireland. “Getting people from paper to CAD was a big battle; there’s a bigger chasm to cross in terms of transferring from CAD to BIM but the benefits far outweigh the effort.” Even though still struggling with some facets of the technology, Ireland is well ahead of other countries in terms of employing BIM. “Organisations such as the Construction IT Alliance, the Revit User Ireland Group and educational institutes such as the Dublin Institute of Technology, and the Waterford Institute of Technology have really helped to educate the industry in Ireland. The majority of top companies in Ireland actually understand BIM and use the technology to its full potential. There is a clear understanding and ability to differentiate between the BIM process and having BIM enabled software installed which gives Irish companies a distinct advantage when quoting for work abroad.”

Firms that adopt BIM now and collaborate effectively with all project stakeholders will not only win new business but will avoid exclusion from certain tender processes, will secure their positions in supply chains and will enhance their profile in the marketplace.

With return on investment never so important to the construction sector, one of BIMs main advantages is being able to see and simulate a construction project’s performance and environmental impact long before ground is ever broken. BIM lets construction teams understand, not just how a building will look, but how it will function, coupled with a detailed understanding of the construction process, what it will cost and how it will operate.

In a traditional design process, little effort is put into the preliminary and schematic design phases and even less so after the drawings are created. Changes that occur during this phase and also during construction are very costly to execute. “In a collaborative BIM design process, where participants are brought in earlier and clear goals are set, the preferred design process would actually shift efforts much earlier in the design cycle. With BIM, construction documents become a by-product of the design effort; more time is spent upfront on making more informed, better design decisions,” says John. An excellent example of this is the clash detection feature inherent in most BIM solutions. “The absolute necessity of utilising a tool like clash detection became clear to me at a CITA event. A presenter who had designed an MEP model (HVAC systems, etc.) explained that a clash such as a duct passing through a steel beam could end up costing many thousands to fix on site. Eliminating such clashes, by default, during the design process avoids expensive project delays and costly re-working.”

John-Bennetjpg“BIM might not be mandated in Ireland like it is in the UK but that doesn’t mean we’re not using it. Four out of five of the biggest construction projects currently in Ireland are using BIM. Many of the firms who have adopted BIM are already seeing major benefits to their organisations’ bottom line on projects where BIM was not mandated,” says John.

Autodesk understands that companies are struggling financially so both perpetual licenses and desktop subscriptions for BIM software are available to firms. The desktop subscription is a pay-as-you-go model that offers monthly, quarterly and yearly options. Customers receive similar benefits to perpetual licenses such as basic support, access to the latest product enhancements and in some cases cloud services such as on-line rendering, and analysis, all without having to lay out the upfront cost. “Looking beyond the initial costs, firms who implement a BIM process are going to make substantial cost savings and increase productivity. Manpower is more often than not the highest cost that a company is going to have so if an employer can make their design team more efficient, deliver better quality building designs with better deliverables to all stakeholders, it can only create an opportunity for a healthier bottom line. You can’t just look at cost on its own; you must look at the benefits it brings to the organisation.”

Autodesk Design Suites have many flavours from Building, Infrastructure, Plant etc, and all provide a portfolio of interoperable 3D building design software that supports BIM based workflows. The capability to produce realistic 3D visualisations coupled with the use of integrated simulation and analysis tools allow engineers and designers to create higher-quality construction documentation and make more informed design and construction decisions.

“BIM isn’t an option anymore; it’s a necessity for AEC organisations that want to compete in this sector and who want to drive a sustainable and profitable business,” says John. “We were at a CITA event recently and we heard from Penn State University who outlined how they had no choice but to implement BIM on all their projects as they didn’t have the money or resources to use traditional methods. I think that’s the stage that we’re at now and it’s imperative that firms understand the benefits that embracing BIM can bring.”

This article first appeared in Irish Building Magazine and can be viewed with this link.