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The Government's ConstructionStrategy has served its purposeadmirably, focusing people's minds
on BIM, whether they are directly involvedthrough participation in a public sectorconstruction project, where they have to beutilising collaborative BIM to Level 2standard on the BIM maturity index by2016, or in private sector collaboration,where the concept promises to deliverefficiency savings without Governmentcoercion. If the Government's intention wasto inject purpose into an industrystruggling through a deep recession at thetime the policy was introduced then it hascertainly succeeded. If its aim was to save money on public
construction projects then it has to be saidthat it has succeeded there as well as,besides the BIM process enhancing thepractice and spirit of collaboration betweenall members of a project team, it hasintroduced a high degree of inspectionand visibility to construction projects,which has ironed out wasteful and costlypractices.The other benefit has been the drawing-in
of all other members of a project team -including those outside the design andconstruction process itself, who still needthe information held within the model tosend out tenders for construction, organisesuppliers and material deliveries, schedulethe construction process, ensure legalobligations are met and safety standardsmaintained. And, of course, to manage theproperty after construction, a process thatis said to comprise up to 70% of the totalcost of the life of a building. It is in theseareas where savings can now be made.Access to information held within the
Building Information Model and associateddocuments, therefore, has switched fromCAD software developers to companies
like 4Projects by Viewpoint, Cloud-collaboration specialists who deliverenterprise collaboration tools to the wholeindustry, using SaaS (Software as aService) tools to manage and shareinformation on every aspect of aconstruction project. It is their experiencethat will enable construction projects tomeet the savings that the Government isdemanding.
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH IFCHence the launch of 4BIM by 4Projects, aBIM delivery tool that uses the same cloud-based technology to provide collaborativeBIM services which deliver access to alllevels of BIM data, held either in the 3Dmodel, and associated documents fromdifferent project teams, using openstandard IFC file formats for maximumaccessibility.The principal feature of 4BIM is a browser
based Viewer that provides access to IFCmodel data to anyone on the team,whether they have CAD training or not, andwithout requiring them to have theoriginating CAD software installed on theirsystem. This, of course, is a fundamentalprinciple of COBie, the delivery systembeing developed by the BIM Task Groupsubsequent to the handing over of projectsto Facilities Management after theirconstruction. Where the IFC data is deficient in
information (the conversion of model datainto standard IFC format varying quiteconsiderably depending on the originatingsoftware) 4BIM provides a Review system,enabling different specialities within aproject team to review and tag IFC modelelements with the data they and others willsubsequently require - specifications,supplier details, energy needs - linkingdata and documents to the model.
4BIM also comes with an integratedModel Server which allows BIM modelsand files to be brought together from allconstruction disciplines and merged for fullcollaborative review and markup.4BIM accompanies the collaborative
review process with extensive revision leveltracking, accountability of use and audittrails that keep track of the latest versionsof both models and documents. It alsohighlights and informs project teammembers of any revisions, introductions orchanges made that they need to be awareof through its active messaging system.4BIM users also have access to the
wealth of other collaborative tools that4Projects has developed for its clients:Information and Document Management;Communications Management; Forms;Process and Workflow Management;Organisation and Reporting, Integrationand Asset Management; KPI and FinancialControl; Change Management, and so on.These are supplied using predefinedtemplates, or customised to suit your ownrequirements. All of this is backed up by Team
Directories and Calendars, providingcontact details of everyone working on aproject or across an entire enterprise,supplemented by a Dashboard for project teams to visualise tasks andactivities that require action. DiscussionForums can be integrated with email toprovide a simple way for teams tocollaborate on points of discussion.eForms enables users to create bespokeonline form templates, which are simple todistribute and complete. GeoViewintegration provides yet another feature,the dynamic and interactive GeoTag tool,for tagging and geolocating projects,assets, and folders for an enhanced'dashboard' perspective. 4Explorer and 4Outlook, optional
Windows applications, integrate PersonalContainer (another 4Project feature) withthe popular desktop applications, and, inorder to accommodate the rapid growth of
4Projects by Viewpoint adds 4BIM to its Cloud-based EnterpriseCollaboration solutions, providing the prospect of real savingswithin the construction industry, says David Chadwick
May/June 2014 19
mobile technology, the 4Projects Mobileapp allows users to stay connected.
THE 4BIM CONCEPT4Projects introduced the concept of 4BIMlast year, aptly described as 'BIM in aBrowser'. It is now a total constructioninformation gathering and viewing systemthat links 4Projects’ comprehensive rangeof management applications to theconstruction process. The software uses xBIM (eXtensible BIM),
an open source toolkit developed byNorthumbria University, assisted by the4BIM Technology Strategy Board, which4Projects helped establish, together withthe BIM Academy, AEC3, VinciConstruction and, interestingly, Kingspan -a well known construction material supplier.The hope is that, by making xBIM freely
available, other software developers likeKingspan will be encouraged to build theirown BIM applications, widening the appealof the technology. With 90% of the top UKcontractors using 4Projects services andwith architects and engineering contractorson board as well, the company has theclout to deliver a solidly supportedstandard - with help, once more, from theGovernment, which has stipulated the
subset of IFC, COBie, to be the preferredinformation delivery method.
WHERE DOES THIS TAKE US?I said earlier on that 4BIM, the cloud-basedcollaboration solution, offers the prospectof real savings within the industry. It's notjust about money, though. 4BIM can beused to help project teams work closertogether, widening communication,bringing in more people into the decisionmaking process, armed with up-to-dateand far more relevant information aboutthe project. With early warning of potentialproblems errors can be reduced, changesimplemented and alternative solutionsexplored, helping to maintain schedulesand eliminate litigation and penalties risingfrom deadline overruns.It can work at an even more basic level,
as well. By accessing project constructionschedules, material requirements andhuman resources, tagged to differentelements of a building model anddelivered as Work Packages, managerscan organise workforces and deliveries toensure that expensive craftsmen are nothanging around idle on site, waiting formaterials to be delivered or to gain accessto their section of the project, and that
materials are not delivered late or too early,causing disruption on site. The addedvalue to that is enhanced efficiency on siteand improved morale in the workforce.Where else does 4BIM score? SaaS
solutions are a growing trend, as theyrequire no special technology forimplementation, can be used on allbrowsers and platforms, are generally easyto use and have few staff trainingrequirements. This enables companies tomatch costs to usage, and they can bemaintained to the latest level ofsophistication by the developing company- no expensive upgrades or downtimewhilst the latest version is installed. There are also no limits to its use. It can
be used by a small provincial company onlocal projects or globally by the largestinternational contractors, with no limits tothe information that can be held andshared instantly by any project member.And, of course, it demands the highestlevels of security. Conforming to ISO27001,it provides a secure environment forhandling projects, giving users the meansto maintain the security of global projectswhilst enjoying the fruits of totalcollaborative control.www.4projects.com