BIM (building information modeling) is a collaborative process that enables owners, architects, engineers, and contractors to share project data through models. While the software has advanced in recent years, the hardware for the office and the field is coming to fruition more recently in the construction industry.
Today large general contractors such as McCarthy Building Companies, www.mccarthy.com, St Louis, Mo., and Skanska, www.skanska.com, Stockholm, Sweden, are using kiosks and resource centers in the field to access the BIM models. These kiosks house computers and BIM software, allowing various authorized members of the project team to view models out at the jobsite.
In the office, companies such as Turner Construction Co., www.turnerconstruction.com, New York, N.Y., conduct interactive meetings, which require referencing data in the BIM models. Instead of using a projector, the company is using two SMART Board interactive whiteboards from SMART Technologies, www.smarttech.com, Calgary, Alta.
This construction company leads regular staff meetings in ‘iRooms,’ which are equipped with a computer and two SMART boards. The whiteboards provide a space to view and interact with the BIM models—enabling teamwork that is critical to BIM.
With the technology, dispersed teams can also access the model. By connecting to a meeting via SMART Bridgit conferencing software, remote team members can view documents displayed in the iRoom through their own personal computer or tablet device. On their own device, these remote team members can make digital notes that are visible on the whiteboard in the iRoom.
Turner used this technology on the Sea-Tac airport car rental facility project, which has a unique helix-shaped parking ramp structure. Using the technology in the iRoom, the team was able to identify constructability issues early to eliminate rework later.
Dan Gramer, national manager, integrated building solutions, Turner Construction Co., says the SMART Boards have helped the team stay on topic by pulling up a 3D model, showing the problem, and quickly working together to resolve the issue.
While much of the focus in recent years has been on the software side of BIM, contractors should keep an eye on the hardware as well. From kiosks in the field to whiteboards in the office, construction companies are finding the right hardware can help enable even more collaboration in the office, as well as in the field.