BIM (Building Information Modeling) is not a new concept in the Fire Protection industry. Over the past 6 years BIM has become a key term in the preconstruction process, driving trends toward 3D modeling, structured coordination and increased information sharing. Throughout 2018, technologies to enable visualization and enhanced collaboration have been adopted, assisting in making the BIM process more efficient than ever before.
Enhanced Content & Modeling
Content and software integration for fire protection has always been an area of contention. Calculations and stock listings have been difficult to work into 3D models, causing bottlenecks in the BIM process. In 2018 we are seeing manufacturers and software providers’ work hand in hand to alleviate these issues. By working collectively, these calculations and stock listings can be integrated into the 3D models, allowing contractors migrate toward 3D modeling platforms like Autodesk Revit. Along with this, manufacturers are beginning to develop advanced content for the fire protection industry, making it easier to model an entire system, and eliminating the need to create content in house.
Virtual reality has become a powerful tool for project visualization. Contractors and engineers are able to virtually see a model in new ways, walking through a 3D environment that previously would have been viewed as a flat computer model. In 2018 the hardware associated with virtual reality including the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift has dropped in price, making it more accessible to firms of all sizes. The HoloLens is also becoming a prominent tool, as no computer is required to drive the device, and visualization can happen wirelessly. To make programming seamless, apps are now available that take your Revit models into these 3D environments. With the software and technology becoming readily available and easy to use pre-construction teams can now have a realistic view of a space, locating issues, clashes and errors in preconstruction that would be costly fixes in the field.
Cloud based technology and SaaS (Software As A Service)
Information, the “I” in BIM, is a pivotal tool to ensuring that the preconstruction process works efficiently. Yet how can information be properly shared if we are always on the road, working off of mobile devices? Cloud technology and SaaS have begun to solve this problem. In 2018 we have seen an increase in adoption of these tools and technologies throughout the fire protection industry. SaaS takes software that had previously been housed on local servers into the cloud, making them accessible from any location, on both mobile devices and computers. Programs like Microsoft Office are all migrating away from local servers in favor of the cloud. Mobile conferencing, including Webex and Skpe, provide the virtual meeting space, while tools like Autodesk BIM 360 and Revizto provide the necessary file sharing and collaboration. Revizto and BIM 360 allow project teams to work off of a shared, cloud based model, making real time edits, issue tracking and communicating via chat functionality within the apps. Gone are the days of printed models, email based issue maintenance, and the concern that a member of the preconstruction team is working off of outdated files. Using these cloud based collaborative tools gives teams the peace of mind that their project documents are up to date, and make the model itself accessible at the tap of a finger from anywhere in the world.
Projects of all sizes are beginning to require BIM workflows within their specifications, making the migration toward 3D software and global collaboration increasingly more important. The trends listed above make it is easy to see how the industry is adopting new software, and working collaboratively to respond to these needs. With technology being developed daily to streamline BIM workflows, we are excited to see what is next for the Fire Protection industry.