3 Reasons You Should BIM

Revit_450x300BIM, the acronym for building information modeling, is transforming the architecture and design world. It is quickly becoming the standard for conceptualization, client presentation, and building engineering and construction.  So, why is the AV community so far behind in embracing these trends and supporting 3D models?

BIM is a process of creating and managing build data during development.  An accurate digital building model allows the design and construction of a structure to be simulated, visualized and evaluated prior to actual construction.  In order for a BIM process to be effective, the building components used in the project must be available as 3D objects.  This represents a fundamental shift from the use of traditional computer-aided drafting of 2D vector-based files that combine to represent objectives. BIM adoption has grown 500 percent in the past years among architect, engineering and construction professionals and research indicates that up to 80 percent of firms have adopted BIM.

The ability to visualize a space without lifting a hammer creates valuable benefits to architects, structural engineers, contractors, fabricators and their clients, minimizing potentially expensive errors and rework.   3D visualizations can also improve client approval rates and increase project budgets because clients can envision a space in its entirety before value engineering the innovation out of the project.  As evidence, BIM is consistently ranked by architects as a top way to improve their return on investment in technology with 62 percent of users perceiving a positive ROI.

Yet with all of these benefits, building product manufacturers have been slow to provide models of their products for easy integration into BIM.  Even fewer audiovisual suppliers have joined the BIM wave.  Planar was one of the first in the AV industry to embrace BIM and is actively encouraging its network of integrators to do the same. 3D models of our Clarity Matrix, Planar Mosaic, and Planar UltraLux displays are available for no charge on Autodesk Seek, an online design content library. (AV-iQ, InfoComm’s online product catalog, includes a BIM repository of 830 BIM objects from AV equipment manufacturers.)

Without proper 3D models from the manufacturer, users of BIM software have to create their own models, which can be difficult and time-consuming.  With 3D models, the software automatically creates a bill of materials, including a schedule of part numbers required for that system — this can be a big advantage as projects progress.

Certain project types lend themselves to the use of BIM.  In general, the larger the project, the more the benefits of BIM are realized.  This is why projects in healthcare, higher education, corporate and hospitality are utilizing BIM to a greater degree than projects in retail or entertainment, where the project lifecycle is shorter and the construction scope may be more limited.  But even in shorter-turn projects, the use of visualization tools is becoming standard in the workflow and has been shown to aid communication, collaboration and project decision making.

Peter Lawrence, Planar product manager and lead on our recent BIM announcement, shared that in his interactions with architects, designers, builders and other specifiers, he heard time and time again that it was critical to their workflow for Planar to have BIM-ready objects available. Making AV equipment, especially complex and configurable products like videowalls, easier to visualize and specify is key to full-scale adoption.  Using BIM tools like Autodesk Revit and 3D models made available by manufacturers sets integrators apart from their competition for new business.

Here are three reasons why integrators should embrace BIM:

  1. The ability to capture imagination in the design phase of a project is important for any AV integrator.  Designers and specifiers are finding the benefits of BIM key to client relationships for repeat business, faster budget approvals, project delivery and unique designs that keep competitors locked-out.  The same benefits can be realized by integrators as well.
  2. If everyone in the building design and implementation process is using an interoperable platform, like BIM, it can significantly reduce errors, rework and litigation that can be commonplace in multiple-contractor environments.  AV integrators protect themselves from errors by utilizing the same tools and processes as others who are working on the project.
  3. As the world becomes more competitive and AV integrators strive to defend their value beyond installation or post-sales support, the ability to be a partner in design, consultation and system integration, and skills like BIM, can be key differentiators, allowing them to attract, retain and win business more quickly.

Better outcomes through collaboration is one of the key advantages of BIM and can be a winning proposition for AV integrators.

About Jennifer Davis

Jennifer Davis is Vice President of Marketing at Planar Systems and Runco International. Her work at Planar spans a wide variety of markets and technologies, including digital signage and architectural displays. Prior to joining Planar, Jennifer worked for Intel Corp. and held a senior marketing management role at a software start-up. She holds a BS in business administration and history from Warner Pacific College and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

6 Responses to “3 Reasons You Should BIM”

  1. Crystal Balthrop Reply April 4, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I understand from an AV integrator perspective the necessity of using BIM products – but what about from a Consultant’s perspective when you have to bid out a project?? I understand using BIM to get the clients buy off on the concept – but how would using BIM help in the bid process?

    • Great question, Crystal. As AV integrators and consultants gain familiarity with the tools, it will be easier to compare bids from different suppliers and different approaches and know that you are comparing apples-to-apples.

      Integrators have told us some of the benefits they have seen in using BIM in their workflow and many of these can apply to consultants as well. They include:

      1. Taking section cuts of any portion of the design and keeping accurate measurements in any elevation. This is useful for identifying possible installation issues ahead of time.

      2. Rendering a 3D image can help your team or your client get oriented with a space more quickly (2D drawings definitely have some limitations when clients have difficulty visualizing and when the ceilings and other mechanical elements interfere).

      3. There are specific benefits around the technology integration that would make bids more accurate. For instance, if you setup the rack and connect your AV elements to it, Revit can give you the X,Y,Z conduit distance requirements which is helpful for long runs with cable distance limits. This is useful for consultants as the cost of cabling and complexities of pre-wire can drive a lot of project costs or surprises, if they aren’t considered.

      More AV manufacturers are providing BIM models (Planar, for instance), so it’s easier (and cheaper) to implement BIM without having to create custom elements.

      Although there are consultants and integrators who work in AutoCAD, or even SketchUp, and then translate models to REVIT at the request of architects, that can have its challenges. Problems can range for models not rendering properly across systems to having work over-written when files get passed back and forth. Consultants who are working with architects that are using REVIT can benefit from participating in teh BIM workflow. This ensures that the parties are speaking the same language and that checkpoints and changes can be managed more fluidly. We are hearing about more and more state and federal projects where BIM is a requirement and architectural engineering schools are heavily favoring teaching Revit, so the trend is certainly in motion.

  2. Is there a particular reason that Planar did not follow the InfoComm BIM parameter guide found at infocomm.org/bim for the creation of your families?

    • To clarify the previous comment, it seems that only a small portion of the parameters from the InfoComm list were provided and those that were, utilize a different set of units or different naming convention.

      Was the InfoComm list not adequate? or was there another reason?

      • David – The models use InfoComm parameters only where doing so doesn’t require the use of inadequate data types. Ex: It’s impossible to map an electrical connector to a parameter whose data type is ‘text’. Can we help in further developing the standard so some of these issues can be resolved? We would certainly appreciate the opportunity.
        -Inview Labs

        • David, thanks for the questions. Of course, Planar strives to adhere to InfoComm guidelines and standards whenever possible. For instance, publishing our price lists in eZip formats, etc.

          As with all software programs, AutoDesk Revit stores information in a structured database using formal data types to identify logically what kind of data is stored. Examples of data types include: Number (1.3456), Integer (1), Text (“This is text”), Cost ($1.00), Length (1’-3”) etc. If you try to store a value of 1.3456 as an Integer, it won’t accept it. It’s this system of data types that helps Revit understand how to treat information, perform calculations, quantify items etc… Example: this is how Revit knows that the addition of $1.00 and 1’-3” isn’t logical. Data types also allow information to be translated across different measurement systems (Imperial to Metric). If an attribute in my project is of the data type Length and I put in a length of 1’-3”, I can send my drawing to a metric user and Revit will automatically convert the value to the Metric form of 381 millimeters. I know this is review for you, David, but other readers might appreciate this background.

          The InfoComm standard was used whenever possible, but sadly some of the parameters in the standard would have required incorrect data types. Parley Burneett from InView labs articulated this well in his earlier post and is an excellent resource.

          Other specific examples include:

          - Power Active >> Infocomm wants ‘Number’ >> Should be ‘Apparent Power’

          - Aspect Ratio >> Infocomm wants ‘Number’ >> Should be ‘Text’

          - Brightness Full >> Infocomm wants ‘Number’ >> Should be ‘Luminous Flux’

          There is often healthy debate about data types, but in the examples above the industry standards and Revit requirements don’t match InfoComm’s guidelines. When there was a conflict, we choose the standards used by architects, designers, and the construction industry and the parameters and data types recommended by Revit.

          As was suggested, I think there is opportunity to continue to evolve the InfoComm standards to provide member organizations more accurate and useful BIM models to use in their projects. Planar and others are ready to support this to drive further adoption of BIM which is important for the AV industry to adopt fully. Let us know how we can help.