For many in our industry, this century’s relentless advance in technology and ongoing explosion of data continues to be intimidating, even as proliferating systems become more user-friendly.
The more responsible the manager, the more systems he or she may oversee, and the greater the fear that the information on which they are relying may be outdated. And this anxiety exists for both young and old workers, although it clearly increases with age.
For that reason, many have continued to cling to 2D documents on projects to confirm on paper, in their hands, what increasingly exists electronically and dynamically. “There is still a fairly large population in this industry that just trusts 2D more,” says Don Henrich, CEO of Assemble Systems, a cloud-based construction data management system utilizing 3D models as the basis for project management. Even for those well-versed in the technology, however, there also can be just too much of good thing.
“It is not uncommon to have 20 to 30 systems on a single project—in fact, one general contractor recently told us that it had more systems than people on one recent job!” adds Henrich, who joined Assemble last summer as COO. He is based in Salem MA, home to one of Assemble’s two main offices now.
With that in mind, Assemble this summer has added 2D SmartSheets to its 3D model solution, aiming to bridge the gap between the use of drawings and 3D models. “Customers still have to have both,” explains Assemble product manager Tim Kelly. “The quantities and metadata available in the 3D model and the drawings that the design team creates—it’s all needed for project management.”
The Assemble innovation is to include the 2D drawings from the 3D BIM models, and to have them associated to each other. This allows a customer to view the model, then the drawing and see that the data is accurate and usable. That builds trust in the process and allows everyone on the project team to have faith on both ends of the process. “It’s a pretty big step in a good direction,” says Kris Lengieza, VDC director for Ft. Lauderdale FL-based Stiles Construction. “Historically, firms have been contractually required to produce what’s on those 2D drawings, so there has been a disconnect. But now the 3D models come directly from them.”
And the result is that it also allows the AEC team, including designers, subcontractors, and vendors, on a project to access both model and drawings. This ensures that everyone has access to the best digital information available.
“Forbes recently wrote about firms dividing their information into two types: ’Systems of Record’ (SOR), where information that is behind the corporate firewall like payroll and accounts receivable are kept up to date; and ‘Systems of Engagement’(SOE). Systems of Engagement are internet ready and can easily connect to SOR’s, explains Henrich, and this connectivity allows users to see data from more than one source to aid in decision making. Now, the model and 2D SmartSheets from Assemble connect behind the firewall with SOR’s like iSqFt, Procore, Sage, Autodesk Civil 3D, Revit, Autocad, and Intergraph CADWorx, he adds, creating workflows that are more powerful and accurate.
The result allows leverage of the available information from 2D and 3D BIM and that allows multiple generations of coworkers, across several disciplines, to collaborate more. And that improved collaboration and use of 3D data, itself, will improve productivity and efficiency.
“With these new 2D SmartSheets, the data has all the views of the 3D models in tandem with the more familiar 2D sheets,” says Henrich. “Thus, these BIM models can be used for 2D documentation, 3D constructability, 4D schedule automation, 5D takeoffs, and more.”
And so far, contractors are liking the expanded flexibility.
“We are always looking for ways to streamline our efforts and get more information into the hands of our pre-construction teams,” notes Lengieza. “So we want to be able to give them more rapid updates to their budgets with better estimates. This allows us to unlock the power of the model.”
This article was sponsored by Assemble Systems. For more on the company, visit their directory page here.