Volume Builder using BIM to improve productivity.
I recently flew up to Albury to meet with the Southern Vale Homes (SVH) Drafting Team to work their Revit documentation. I feel that there is a stigma out there that BIM is only for the medium to big players, this could be because I am from the Big Smoke and most of BIM talk is about big stuff. But SVH are proving that this is not the case. As I write this post, other unfair comparisons come to mind about the smaller players or even the residential end of construction. Revit is a massive undertaking, therefore it's too hard to use for residential, and on small projects, it takes too long. Oh and I almost forgot, "I can do it quicker in AutoCAD". Side note here, "No you can't!". Well, I often get asked about what other companies are doing, and I can say that SVH have proved these stigmas false and that they are comfortably progressing well down the Revit BIM path.
Starting from where I started with SVH.
These guys are self-trained, with limited interaction with other users like we tend to get at a conferences or user groups in the cities. Their knowledge is based on blogs, YouTube and just using the software with well-developed workflow practices that they have established over several years. Their core work is around 20 homes, with 3 to 5 typical design options for each. Providing them with about 80 homes that a client can choose from, not forgetting the variations that clients add. The typical house can be smashed out for Town Planning in 7.5 hrs. Their drawings are neat and accurate, but they wanted to do this smarter, quicker and to develop the Data to incorporate the estimators into the BIM process.
SVH asked A2K a question, "We want to somehow extract information (data) from Revit to maybe use later…is there an add-In?" From there, a discussion began with a series of questions, followed by A2K being engaged for a Discovery Day to investigate all departments in the business to see where the BIM Data could be used.
The summary of the Discovery Report was to update and implement more mature BIM strategies to the Revit Template, train staff, setup for data extraction for future use in the estimating dept. that uses Builldsoft for cost program Data integration, with the potential for automation of site based requirements down the track.
What A2K brought to the table.
If you have been in one of my training classes or possibly had me in your ear after a beer or two, you would know that I get on the process bandwagon. I believe that drafting shouldn’t be bespoke projects where the individuality is the text and linestyles. ALL the drawings that come out of a company should ALL look the same. Time spent on drawing creativity is not paid for by the client, focus your time on the design of the building, the drawing aesthetics should be company based and consistent throughout. SVH were already going down the one standard path, and I was able to provide more back of house Workflows to help push that principle along, these included:
- Naming Conventions, to push consistency between projects.
- Project Browser set-up
- Pre-Set Drawing Sheets to automate drawing creation
- Pre-Set Scope Boxes also for the automation of views
- Working Views to improve coordination and ensure drawings are kept neat.
My favourite SVH BIM improvement.
The SVH team produce Electrical Drawings. They have established a simple workflow of using Symbols in a Plan View and then using a Revit Generic Annotation Family that behaves like a Legend. I think that it is a good Workflow development in getting out of 2D. Through conversation and testing, we collectively came up with using the Reflected Ceiling Plan with real Revit electrical Families that had the SVH Symbols loaded into them. Then creating a Revit Schedule that picked up these Electrical Families, named and counted the totals plus used the SVH Symbol so that the schedule also behaved like a Legend. Just this little Workflow alone means that the drawing has moved away from dumb 2D and into accountable Intelligent information that can be used to assist the Estimating Team.
Filtering out bad Insulation installation.
I consider Revit Filters to be the cream on the cake for companies to really be doing something interesting with their drawing standards. SVH has an issue where sometimes the wrong wall insulation gets installed in the incorrect location. So I showed them that by using the Data they had already put into the model, they could use Filters to automagically pick up the Wall Insulation R values and display them graphically. Drawings are communication tools, and I believe that we need to progress from the CAD packages of the 90's, also remember that colour printing is no longer a difficult process. But just a tip on using colours, don’t forget that some people are colour blind, be smart and considerate when using colours.
So what can other small drafting teams learn from SVH?
For starters don’t bite off more than you can chew. These guys are slowly eliminating 2D lines and text out of their projects, but not in 6 months or 12, but over several years. All projects have a budget to stick to and to develop new workflows with a cool new tool will burn a hole in small business profits real quick, gradually progressing things will be your friend. One of my suggestions to the SVH team to progress their BIM maturity, is to have regular meetings where they get out a drawing set of a project that was issued that week, highlight in Green all the BIM stuff and in Pink all the 2D and text, dumb stuff. Then focus their efforts on eliminating most of the Pink over time, for example, Room Floor Finishes with Colour Schemes to replace Filled Regions. So BIM is not just for the big players, I'd say the more progressive, smart players. If you plan to implement Revit, then know your facts, go to a re-seller/trainer with an established knowledge of what you expect based on a general BIM implementation plan spanning several years.