Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Are you getting SPIKES in BIM?

I'm noticing an interesting phenomenon. As we make our move to the BIM environment, we've learned that everything moves forward in stages. Obviously, different people learn at different rates. We have users that have easily adapted, and are constantly pushing the envelope. For users that are new to BIM, we keep coming across the "hesitant" user.

You can easily identify these folks. At the pool, they start by only getting in up to their ankles...and quickly get out because the water temp isn't exactly warm enough (others simply pee in the pool in vain attempt to warm it up). I always wind up behind this person in line at Starbucks in any airport...standing there, staring at the screen, wondering if the expresso will keep them awake on the flight, or if the protein in the smoothie will make them constipated for days.

Anyway, back to the projects. We've had some weird issues show up. And by the way - this isn't happening just for us, but across the spectrum of design firms, so my examples are global. For example, we have several structures to renovate and build from scratch, but the project manager only chooses to use BIM on the new facilities. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that we're connecting equipment between the facilities - so it would have been really nice, and incredibly more efficient in the design process if everything new was created as BIM objects.

I've also heard about other projects, where the client wants AutoCAD, wants 2D, isn't interested in 3D...but the question is asked about using laser scanning and point clouds to generate an as-built, for presentation purposes, then runnin' back home to Mama and delivering plain AutoCAD.

It seems that every once in a while, an old school team leader hears about BIM - and SPIKE! Just like that, we get a flash of awareness that lasts as long as a lighting bug in a bird house. The idea is pushed, let's try BIM...but let's just do it here...and not too much. It's kind of like watching the beer commercial where the drinker only wants 1/5 of a glass...and if they don't like it, do they have to pay for it?

Have you ever experienced getting SPIKED? Man, this drives me nuts...and hence the soapbox. If we haven't said this once, we'll say it again. Building Information Modeling is a design process. It's something that you make a decision to follow at the start of a project. It's a business model, not a toy you buy once and throw in the box. And it's really annoying, because only a limited amount of effort is being applied to understanding this.

Here's how I think the fear manifests itself. The PM, Department Head, lead engineer, project architect...we've all had projects at some point that have blown up on us. Especially in older users, it instills a fear of anything that moves you out of your comfort zone. And it's scary, because none of us want to fail. The current business climate has made it worse, as everyone knows it's lot harder to get on with new firms nowadays. But it boils down to a simple thing - you don't just pick a small part of a project (a SPIKE) and "kick the tires".

If you're first instinct is that BIM only works on new projects, we're blowing that away every day. One advantage to having a new BIM user model an existing facility is that the design is already worked out - so this is great practice. There's also a preconceived notion that you have to model everything. I don't recommend doing any more than you need to, to get the design intent across - and in most cases, you can get away with LOD 100 - unless the client is paying you to do more.

I like to hear people say "We're doing BIM on this job" and then they whisper "only up to 60% - then it's back to AutoCAD". Why in the world would you develop a model, that in CD's would save you 50% or more of your contract document production time, and then decide to go back to a drafting board mentality? So we SPIKE to create the model - then panic when the deadline approaches, and go back to our comfort zone.

I've got an electrical designer I love in our office - he's so old school, he still has a pocket protector. But he gave me the quote of the day..."it's become very apparent to me that Revit isn't AutoCAD..." I was stunned...but he's trying, I have to give him credit. Then we gave him a tech that is really fast on Revit, and life is now better.

It boils down to this - if you are a team leader, understand that BIM is like poker - you only win (and win BIG) when you go "all in". If you only decide to do parts of a project, then you open yourself to whole new range of issues - compatibility between applications, loss of data, lack of coordination, document consistency (lineweights, fonts, etc.). Inconsistent application - SPIKES - is not a viable method to use on a project. The spike invariably impacts one major component - the COST of the design.

By the way, my interpretation of SPIKES - Some Projects I Know Explode Spectacularly...that's what happens when you take a half serious approach to BIM...

Have a great day - keep 'em between the lines - David B.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Great Article on BIM Implementation by Josh Oakley

By goodness, when I find an article that lays it all out, I like to pass it on - Josh Oakley of ANGL Consulting wrote a great article on why BIM implementations fail - and what you can do about it. Check it out - it's a great read:

Nicely done! David B.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Changes to the Autodesk Subscription/Upgrade plans

Greg Arkin has posted a pretty detailed article about upcoming plans to change the Autodesk pricing/subscription model. This wasn't really surprising to me, as Autodesk is gradually moving to similar software vendor models (re: can you say online sales, severely whacked down channel).

The fact is, they've been more than generous to users that have held on to their old AutoCAD's (I had to work with a guy who was still on a DOS System using ACAD 9 a few years back), but the reality of it is, the companies that were either pirating software, or not making the investments in technology with good planning, are the ones who are going to be screwed.

And for those that have been clinging to their precious LISP routines and thinking they're just as productive in a 2D electronic drafting world as we are in the BIM/3D Modeling world with the Suites, you're sadly mistaken - and the cost penalty is going to be high...

So if you're still sitting on your AutoCAD 2000, you've got nobody to blame but yourself. Work with us, and we'll help you leverage the modeling we're doing, re-designing and updating your office, plant, help you get into the 21st Century the new design paradigm. Get on subscription, and keep your tools current!

News Flash - Autodesk to remove upgrade pricing next March - Older customers screwed! Subscription customers laugh

Monday, May 7, 2012

FIM...Part Two...

Back to the jetski fishing rig project...OK, so the rig is about finished. One thing I didn't point out before is that I published the model of the cooler/rod holder to Design Review, and used that in the garage to put this together:

So I'm already doing my part to save the planet...anyway, we wound up making a few changes, but this worked out really well. The rig was placed up on feet, so the Yamaha plume would clear the unit without blowing it off the back end:

The rig holds an Igloo 25 quart cooler, and two Berkley adjustable rod holders. The side mounts allow us to rotate this out for trolling if we want to, although I don't know if they'd hold up to a big king mack or tarpon...but we'll find out. The unit will be anchored down to the tow eyes and the rope ring on the back of the seat. The frame was glued and screwed with stainless steel, so corrosion shouldn't be much of an issue.

Next up - electronics...

We settled on the Humminbird 385 DI combo, due to the small size, waterproof, sonar, GPS and downscan imaging - with the transducer mounted in-hull, so it wouldn't be quite as tacky (like we're not already). We added a gel-based 12 volt battery in a small box in the forward storage compartment, with the openings sealed through the wall to protect the electronics.

Mounting was completed by bolting in a RAM Mounted (Humminbird Specific) in the cup holder - since we never use this, due to the fact the water bottle kept flying out at speed...but this baby ain't going anywhere. Easy removal - just unplug, and loosen the mount, and you can tuck it away for travel. Wiring was coil wrapped to protect from movement during a run, and also to keep the leads from sliding down below the steering.

So, does this qualify for creative? Not sure, but a patent and copyright are on the way...

Next up - the real test in Key West, Florida - watch for pics soon!

Later - David B.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's not's FIM - Fishing Information Modeling!

Ya'll know I'm a redneck....but at least I have a little sophistication...sort of. As a graduation present for elder boy from NC State, he's getting a trip to Key West to fish for a while. We're definitely getting our geek on - we're taking the Sea Fox, but also taking a 2010 Yamaha FX HO Cruiser Waverunner:

My toy...
Now, the idea was to just chase the boat, and take some cool video and pics of the boys fishing...but then the redneck in me came out...what if I could fish from the jetski, and catch my own trophies. After several minutes of exhausting research, and seeing what other like minded nutcases were doing (re: ), we embarked on ways to accomplish this.

First up - design a cooler/rod holder rig. Being a Sunday afternoon with no NASCAR, I came up with a little model in Revit MEP 2012, that used the default PVC pipe fittings:

Schematic don't look exactly like this...
That's where I found a flaw in the default fittings - while the elbow has the hub connection inside of the fitting, the tee's connection is on the face. Subsequently, I have downloaded the latest version of Charlotte Pipe's Revit PVC fittings, for the rest of my users to enjoy ( gets you complete libraries - very quickly).

The error in the fittings created an error in my pipe cut lengths on the schedule I defined, so I had to sort of wing it to get the shape correct. We've purchased Berkley adjustable rod holders (of the clamp on variety - from my buddies at Neuse sports Shop in Kinston, NC) to attach to the sides of the rig, so I should be able to pull two rods and a net with no issues.

Next up is the installation of a Humminbird 385CI Combo GPS/Fishing finder with Downscan Imaging - this one should be interesting, we're using a RAM mount in the cup holder next to the dash (never could figure out why that was there - the bottles never stay there at 70mph).

So we're in assembly mode - when I get all this put together, I'll add another post with pics for you to enjoy...

Who says BIM geeks never get out...!

Later - David B.