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USGNN Original StoryPanelists Discuss BIM for Construction During CSI Webinar
May 26, 2009

With so much happening in the field, building information modeling (BIM) is something that can help leverage all of those processes. That was the message conveyed by Erin Rae Hoffer with AutoDesk and Josh Kanner with Vela Systems Inc. during the Construction Specification Institute's (CSI) webinar today titled "BIM for Construction: Connecting the Model to the Jobsite and Back." The panelists focused on how BIM can be incorporated into the construction process.

Kanner explained that BIM for construction allows companies a way to bridge the gap of what you have in the office to what you're doing in the field. He said that rather than leaving the model and its data behind in the job trailer, the jobsite users work with the software on mobile computers to "leverage the model on the jobsite to track material production and installation, manage commissioning, conduct quality assurance/quality control inspections, do punchlists create electronic owner handover documentation and more." He added, "You're bringing the jobsite to the model and the model to the jobsite."

He noted though, that a key requirement is having a tablet PC that can be used in the field, as well as the right software systems.

"These are fully functional computers that are uniquely suited for construction professionals," said Kanner. For example, tablet PCs have a feature that will translate handwriting into text.

"[Tablet PCs] can run all of your regular office applications and allow the field workers to use construction documents electronically in the field," he said.

After explaining the basics of what BIM for construction is, Kanner walked through a number of case study examples. One particular case study looked at how Standard Supplies, a steel fabricator, used the process for a specific job to change its production workflow. The steps they took involved loading the product data into the software; linking and attaching the RFID tags to actual steel pieces; scanning for quality assurance/quality control; scanning at the time shipment; and scanning the materials again once they were on site. A color-coded model of the job was used to show the status of each material piece being fabricated. In other words, which pieces were fabricated; quality checked; shipped; etc.

Some of the benefits the company reported in doing so included:

  • An increase in efficiency of the overall steel fabrication processes;
  • A way to identify potential bottlenecks in the delivery supply chain; and
  • Added value for the client as well as a way the company could differentiate itself in the market.

Kanner also pointed out that companies can see better quality visibility (i.e., knowing exactly where the problems might be). Modeling can help companies "unlock great value during construction," he added.

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