Tuesday, 4 June 2013

BIM - now or never?

BIM - Post education!

Following on from my last blog we have attended BIM Show Live 2013 up at the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel (certainly a step up from our standard Travelodge, sadly no room for the night!)

Attendance of the show was pushing 600 industry experts over the two days, including a Strom trooper & wookie, and this childhood dream car!

But down to business, BIM from a Land Surveyors perspective.  First the good news, people have stopped coming over all vague at the mention of a laser scanner, so there has been progress.  Clients are starting to be more concerned with what can be done with the point cloud, and this is now where the problems start but I'll get back to that later.

What have I learnt?

BIM is not a buzz word, or another string to the Surveyors bow.  BIM is more like a team sport with each of the relevant players putting in their bit of effort to create a collaborative effect, in our case a model which can be used on a project from inception to destruction.  No one player will be more important than another, but at various stages it will be their turn to shine, but not without the support of the other players (and that is the limit of my knowledge of team sports and the end of any comparison between the two!).

This collaborative process is certainly true for current public projects, and it is something which will be rolled into place on existing buildings over time.  This 'back dated' BIM is the area where Surveyors and their laser scanners will be in greatest demand.  Whilst there is an application for the scanner in modelling various pieces of the BIM model such as pipe work or machinery for block creation, without a building to scan we'd look a bit silly sitting with the scanner in the middle of a field (although admittedly we sometimes do this anyway).  Laser scanners work much better when the building has already been built (Chapter 1 in the laser scanning manual!)

What is this cloud thing?

When carrying out a laser scan the raw data collected from the scanner is a point cloud, basically millions or billions of points in space creating a cloud which represents the area being scanned.  Whilst not a brilliant image, you can clearly see the points making up the overall cloud across the grass areas in front of the building.

It is all well and good visiting site, scanning fifteen locations and returning to the office.  But now you wish you'd asked a Surveyor because you have fifteen scans sitting in space completely unconnected like a jigsaw with no box!  The Surveyors knowledge of installing control on site to a local or national grid, and then being able to reference any given point back to this control allows the scans to be linked together in a very tight format, and you can use the additional cloud over laps to further check the fit.  In essence you will have piece of mind as to the integrity of the data.

What next?

So the Surveyors have the cloud, and a degree of 3D knowledge but generally the modelling software is housed by the Architects or Engineers in the form of Revit (other packages are available) but they don't have the prerequisite add-on for handling the millions of points.  Therefore surely the best way forward is closer collaboration between the two groups to avoid double handling of data/software/equipment?  Any takers because that word collaboration is a massive element of BIM as a workflow.  In my opinion collaboration is the element of BIM which will make the biggest savings:-
  • Pipe work will fit on site after off site fabrication because the model is accurate
  • There will be no clashes between design and functionality as the clash detection is done at an early stage.
  • The model can be up dated over time as areas change, not on mass when a building changes use and an entire survey need be commissioned.
  • Everyone will know what is behind every panel because it has been modelled, so no need for endless pipe and wire chasing to find a fault.
  • The original model will be create/surveyed with everyones' needs in mind, so costly revisits should not be required.
The list goes on, and will continue to grow are the process develops & evolves over time.

We do have some limited abilities in modelling through the processing software, in this case Cyclone, but the capabilities of this will need to be further explored to see how far the model taken be taken before additional software is required, and that is where the next few years come in.  Training and learning ready for the next level of BIM to become a requirement.  So watch this space, or better still call us to discuss your requirements we have a Leica C10 Laser Scanner ready to go....

And in Closing....

For more information on the services R L Surveys can offer please visit our website at www.rlsurveys.co.uk, or for a more relaxed view we can be found on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.