Thursday, July 12, 2012

July Meeting

Attendees: Dave Bleiman, Todd Henderson, Bruce Madsen, James McKenzie, Dan Tsui, Marla Ushijima

We started off with a discussion of Lean Design and it's relationship to BIM. Currently there are cases of remodeling due to the use of multiple software and difficulties with interoperability. Structural engineers prefer Tekla, architects typically use Revit, but there are problems with the IFC interface between them, such as beams that get flipped when they're translated into Revit. In response, Todd notes that Boulder Associates has learned how to model in Tekla, but this is prohibitive for most architects. Dave made a presentation at Autodesk University on the two programs, the interface between them, and the shortcomings of Revit for fabrication. Tekla has provided a "crazy amount" of support on the issue, but not so much from Autodesk. Fabricators use Tekla because it identifies every piece of rebar on a project - necessary for shop-fabrication - but that doesn't work in Revit. That problem was resolved in Revit 2013, but by that point fabricators had already committed to Tekla. James postulated that issues might arise from the fact that Autodesk hasn't developed a product in-house since AutoCAD 20+ years ago, with the exception of Inventor. They've bought all their signature software in recent years.

Next up was the topic of construction accuracy. James referenced GPS control of earth-moving equipment, facilitated by topo models with all underground utilities located. Todd noted that at Kaiser Oakland Hospital, McCarthy Construction developed an in-house scanning team that creates topo maps of floor slabs to measure their levelness to 1/10 of an inch, and to check locations of rebar and stub-ups. They overlay the laser scan onto the Revit model for QA/QC. Can construction methods really meet the new expectations for construction tolerances? Swinerton uses Get the Point software with Total Station to identify hole locations in slabs, and also uses laser scanning for QA/QC. James notes that they receive no additional compensation, and they're not taking advantage of it for marketing purposes.

Dave brought up the issue of cloud computing. At the recent Revit Technology Conference there was a demonstration of BIM9, which provides private BIM clouds with a separate server behind a firewall that firms locate in their own server room. It provides BIM authoring software via remote desktop access for either local or remote use by any device connected to the internet. Cheap computers can be used for modeling as long as they have a good graphics card. Even ipads can be a viable modeling tool if they've got a mouse. Todd mentioned experience with Log Me In for remote access, which was slow and doesn't give server access to consultant engineers in China. Bruce noted that HOK is using Citrix successfully for cloud computing.

For cloud storage, James mentioned Pogo, which is a cheap device that acts as a private server. It's not secure but it is easily deployed. Todd said that security concerns led Sutter Health to negotiate a special contract for Buzzsaw that guarantees that none of their data would be stored outside the country. We questioned the need for this, as info gets out anyway via bid documents. Todd likes Buzzsaw, Dave notes that Dropbox is popular but not as robust.

There are several solutions that marry team-sharing of information and project management. Constructware is designed to work with Buzzsaw. Horizontal Glue has been bought by AutoDesk; it facilitates the RFI process and works with CMIC for job-cost accounting, similar to Deltek but more robust. Dan's experience with Horizontal Glue is that it's navigation is slow, with cloud-based streaming. James noted the need for untethered access to information when an internet connection is unavailable. Vela Systems caches information for off-line access. Dan and Bruce are both familiar with 360 Glue, which is another Autodesk product similar to Horizontal Glue. They thought it worked well. Dan used it at Modulus Consulting for cloud rendering, which was fast, impressive, and freed up their in-house servers. His client loved it, asking for more and more renderings - include it in the contract as an add service so both the client and you benefit.

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