In many sectors nowadays, end-to-end information flow and data exchange is an essential foundation for developing projects efficiently. But what has long been a reality in the automotive sector, for example, often causes headaches in the construction industry. Construction is based on cooperation between all the planning partners from different disciplines. It is precisely in the context of ever greater geographical dispersal of cooperation that cross-discipline and cross-application interaction and integration become a central focus.
Until recently, end-to-end project processing and the exchange of construction data were rather rare. Planning and design is usually carried out using 2D systems, while a separate system is used independently for tenders and contracts, as well as separate cost calculation programs. The use of a CAD-supported connection to expert planning is the exception rather than the rule. This method of working leads to redundant or incorrect data, a loss of quality, a higher workload and thus additional costs.
In order to streamline the construction process, data must therefore be used throughout the process. This is where Building Information Modeling (BIM) comes in as an integrated process for the optimized design, construction and management of buildings. This method sees planning and design as an integrated overall activity conducted by all the areas concerned, rather than the sum of numerous individual activities. BIM takes account of the complete life cycle of a building and, at an early stage, is also able to analyze the effects of design decisions on the subsequent use and management of the building. This process is based on up-to-date, high-quality and freely-accessible information on the respective design, implementation or current status. BIM makes it possible for all those involved to receive and forward building data in full – without losses, transfer errors or interface problems. In this way, BIM makes it possible to reduce the risk of errors and enables cost-effective and on-time building design.
Allplan BIM 2008 – practical Building Information Modeling
Compared to a standard planning and design method, BIM provides a great deal of potential for optimization for most sub-processes, thereby adding value for users. Besides creating architectural models, Allplan BIM 2008 can also be used to determine quantities and costs. With the new building structure, data can be categorized on a practice-oriented basis in accordance with the topological structure of a building – with projects, buildings, sections, stories and rooms. Predefined components automatically provide the user with construction knowledge for analyses. Choosing Allplan BIM 2008 does not mean choosing between 2D or 3D design. Depending on the project phase, Allplan BIM 2008 users can switch at any time between 2D drafting and 3D design based on component-oriented building modeling with quantity and cost determination. This enables application planning or working drawings based on a 3D model and 2D detailed planning within one and the same application.
With Allplan BIM 2008, Nemetschek provides an end-to-end solution for architects, structural engineers, structural designers and specialist design engineers. In this way, the software enables interdisciplinary cooperation between all project members based on a common database. BIM has also been deliberately expanded with solutions that are tailored to the core process areas of architects and civil engineers. This includes the combination of the architectural model with a quantity and cost model – Design2Cost – as well as the combination of the structural model with an analytical model.
Design2Cost: precise cost determination
Within the BIM sub-process used by architects, Nemetschek provides the Design2Cost intelligent design method. In addition to cost determination and standard tender, award and billing activities, this integrated cost planning and tender/award/billing solution also allows users to derive detailed quantities for construction costs and bills of quantities from the virtual building model. Allplan Architecture is used for the design while Allplan IBD is for the planning data. This leads automatically to an architectural model that can be used both for plan display and visualization purposes, as well as for quantity takeoff. Enhancing the CAD data with material properties and execution times combined with the option to determine quantities while taking into account calculation rules and standards is an ideal example of BIM. Using BIM, users make changes directly in the project file. These changes are directly available to all project members. Quantities that are used as the basis for cost calculation are updated automatically. If, for example, changes to the floor plan reduce the number of windows in a building, the architect can adjust them directly in the virtual building model. All the planning partners involved in the design phase can access this change together with the revised number of windows immediately and simultaneously track the effect on costs.
Interaction between CAD and structural analysis
As well as early cost control, BIM also makes it possible to work across various disciplines. Users can easily transfer entire building models from Allplan to the SCIA ESA PT structural analysis software and derive the structural model directly. In this way, for example, a component-oriented architectural model created by an architect can easily be converted into a structural model and transferred to structural analysis software. The structural model is then derived automatically from the analytical model. To do this, an algorithm is used to reduce three-dimensional components to their system lines and planes and then to connect these to a valid structural system. The structural engineer then just needs to check whether the automatically-generated model meets his/her requirements. When changes are made, the structural engineer can simply reenter the load-bearing components using an update mechanism. The structural analysis software contains a graphical display of the points at which changes have been made to the previous status. The user then decides whether to adopt the changes and the structural system is modified accordingly. As all the other information is still available, the structural and design calculations can be performed again immediately.
Future-oriented data exchange
Building Information Modeling can only be successful if as many project members as possible can access the data for the virtual building models. Therefore, in addition to traditional exchange formats, Nemetschek is also committed to freely-available and vendor-independent formats such as PDF and IFC. These support optimized information flow and ensure that all processes run smoothly.
IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) has become established as a high-performance standard data format for the intelligent exchange of 3D design data in the building industry. It can be used to exchange component-oriented building models easily between software applications from different vendors. This creates the basis for data exchange between BIM solutions.
The main advantage of PDF export is the flexibility it offers. Because most offices work with the free Adobe Reader, data that is provided in PDF format can be viewed without any further investment in special readers or proprietary viewers. The layer structure used in Allplan is retained in Adobe Reader and can be used there to control how data is displayed. Employees can also enter comments and thus contribute to an efficient planning and design process. 3D data exports also mean that complicated details can be displayed directly in the 3D model, making them easier to understand. This results in fewer questions from clients, planning partners and construction site personnel while increasing planning security.