The Power of BIM & Revit
The terms BIM and Revit have been in common usage in the construction industry for several years now and Tricon Foodservice Consultants have been a leading player in bringing about the adoption of BIM in the industry. After years of investment, Tricon are delighted to see that the true power of the methodology is beginning to be realised and the many benefits are starting to be felt.
First Things First: BIM is not Revit
Although often used interchangeably BIM and Revit are not the same thing; BIM stands for Building Information Modelling and is a process for creating and managing information used in a construction project. It is a methodology to improve efficiency and the way diverse teams work together.
Revit is a software tool used by architects, engineers and designers as part of a BIM process. It is actually the product name for the Autodesk software package used to model a building and has been widely adopted by users who have previously used their Autocad suite. So it should be noted that other software products are available on the market.
Started in the UK in 2011 through the Government’s Construction Strategy policy paper, Tricon have led the foodservice sector from almost zero usage of BIM and Revit to a point where now approximately half of all of their work is completed using BIM.
Tricon could see the benefits of using BIM and Revit early on and in 2013 took steps to lead the industry in adopting this technology as Revit was already widely in use in the USA. The substantial investments needed in both software and training meant that take up in the UK was slow and the benefits were not easily seen by all. In fact, the contractors often saw the benefits quicker than some of the Clients.
To overcome this Tricon took the bold move to contact all equipment manufacturers and suppliers advising them that they would be using BIM going forward and would expect them all to do likewise.
Making the Investment
Tricon’s own investment was significant, taking two of their design team out of the day-to-day business to rework one of their projects from a 2D Autocad design into a 3D Revit model. This required a huge initial effort to create a set of standard equipment families as none of these existed at that time. A single item could take a full day’s work simply to create the families and in a process they christened as “Triconising” designs were created so that they were a generic standard rather than specific make and model. This made them much more flexible for future designs and projects.
After 6 months of work they ended up with a Revit model for the trial project (see photo v model image below) and now have around 3000 items and families of items that were used both on the project they were remodelling but more importantly on future projects waiting to be designed.
Multiple benefits become apparent
As BIM became more widely used key benefits began to emerge and contractors began to push the methodology themselves as they recognised that significant time savings could be made during the construction or fit out on projects as well as efficiencies in project management costs. Some of the Contractors have calculated there are approximately 33% less coordination meetings required on site with a BIM project when compared to a non BIM one.
3D modelling techniques also allowed designers to overcome issues such as clash detection which was traditionally a major cause of delays during a site build. Tools such as Revit will inform the designer if and where a clash will occur as different services and layers are added to the project’s design.
BIM Levels 0, 1 and 2
Since Tricon first began using BIM they have progressed through the various levels to reach BIM level 2 compliance.
BIM level 0 is essentially 2D hand drawings distributed in paper or electronic format where the lead consultant compares each layout to identify any coordination issues, the whole industry moved well past this level with the introduction of AutoCAD; BIM level 1 is where the drawings are produced in an electronic format and can be overlaid to identify coordination issues significantly enhancing collaboration between the various parties involved in the project. BIM Level 2 is where the design is developed as a 3D model and there is a Common Data Environment is in place with naming conventions for information are agreed in common formats so that all information can be shared and interrogated by all parties involved in the design.
There are also elements of improved Health & Safety in the design as well as greatly improving the information available for Facilities Managers as every element within the design is documented fully within the model.
Everyone working at Tricon has now received Revit and BIM training as do all new starters within their first 6 months. Adapting to the changes is not just a matter of retraining CAD operatives as this is just one aspect of the model. All members of the project team need to understand it and the new terminology that accompanies it.
Having completed their project modelling exercise, Tricon shared the information with CESA and manufacturers started to approach Tricon to ask how they were handling BIM on their projects. By sharing their data with the industry, Tricon were able to help speed up the process of adoption and they now estimate 80-90% of manufacturers are on board.
Although it has been a major investment both in time and money, approaching half of Tricon’s work is now under BIM and real benefits are being seen.
For example better quality designs are achieved in the same timeframe as clashes are detected quickly; 3D design walkthroughs can be arranged for non technical clients such as chefs who may struggle to fully appreciate a design from a 2D CAD layout. In one recent project, chefs based in Hong Kong were “walked through” a design for a project in London using a 3D Revit model. This allowed any design changes to be agreed well before anything was built and reduced snagging caused by the difficulty interpreting 2D designs.
Live walk through can also be combined with Virtual Reality environments for those clients looking for the most immersive design experience, however experience to date has shown that a on screen walk through is proving the most popular and effective option.
Tricon believe that adoption of BIM and Revit has now achieved a critical mass within the industry and the next logical step will be formal accreditation by a recognised body such as Lloyd’s Register so that clients and partners are reassured beforehand that they are fully compliant and have the necessary skills and systems in place.
Tricon will also take steps to ensure that their systems are adaptable and flexible enough to cope with the differences in international BIM projects where different standards can apply.
They also see a time where 3D online viewing becomes the norm and browser based systems will allow teams spread across the world to view and interact with a design model at many different levels of complexity.
With BIM level 3 on the horizon, Tricon will be continue with their development to ensure they are fully compliant with the new technologies and remain at the forefront of their use.
Gary Thompson – Design Director, Tricon Foodservice Consultants Ltd