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USGNN Original StorySteve Jones of McGraw-Hill Talks about BIM

"This is definitely the biggest thing to happen in my career and I've been in this business almost 30 years." That's what Steve Jones, senior director for McGraw-Hill Construction, says about building information modeling (BIM). McGraw-Hill Construction operates the online Sweet's Network, a site where companies can post their modeled products.

And what, exactly, is BIM?

Simply put, it's a tool that allows planners, designers, manufacturers, contractors, glazing subcontractors and owners to work from the same object-related database. In other words, instead of project drawings of lines, arcs and texts, everyone involved with the construction is able to visualize the entire building with a 3D model representation.

And with a growing interest in the technology, Jones says this year is the year for BIM. In fact, according to McGraw-Hill Construction's 2007 Interoperability SmartMarket Report, the construction industry will exceed the tipping point for BIM in 2008.

"That doesn't mean the majority of firms will be using BIM," says Jones. "It means there's no going back. It's definitely here to stay and a collaborative modeling environment for projects will be the way of the future."

The architectural and design communities may be jumping on the BIM bandwagon, but contract glaziers have been slower to begin using the tools, though several say they are starting to look into it. Still, it is a new technology and new technologies take some time to be accepted.

But Jones says it's just a matter of time before contract glaziers begin adopting the technology.

"Traditionally, trade contractors are reactive. They deal with the contract documentation they receive, which has always been 2D drawings and text specs, and conduct their business according to the procurement process of the general contractor. Some glazing contractors use sophisticated tools to do their estimates and fabricate their finished work, but the value of that technology isn't shared [with other team members]. It is a local benefit just to them." Jones continues, "With this emerging [technology] they will have the opportunity to leverage their industry expertise and their supporting technologies to play a greater role earlier in the design process. Those who are willing and prepared to step up to this new role will thrive, and that will influence everybody else to get involved."

So BIM is here to stay. But just where did it come from? Who are the key players and just where does the glass and glazing industry fit in? Look for the May issue of USGlass for a one-on-one interview with Jones about BIM, how it's used and how contract glaziers can benefit.

And as far as glass fabricators and curtainwall suppliers? BIM has a role to play with them too. CLICK HERE to read more about how they are getting involved.

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