BIM Innovation: Data Science Applied to Clash Coordination

At BuildingSP, we are reimagining building information modeling (BIM) workflows. Recently, we've been developing a major new innovation which will change how we coordinate mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems using building information modeling (BIM). This innovation is a new, fresh approach to coordination management and we hope you agree that is it transformative. This post will describe what we're doing, why it's important, and what's next.

Let's start by comparing clash detection and Facebook.

Next-Gen BIM Tools - Autorouting with Fabrication Content

How BuildingSP uses Data to Power Next-Gen BIM Tools

We recently posted a video that demonstrated interactive clash detection and coordination on the Unity 3D gaming platform. Our video showed important new capabilities for building information modeling (BIM). And… It also included an animated shark, which was important only to point out that we used a non-traditional BIM software platform. We wanted to follow-up and give you more info on what we’re doing, why it’s important, and how you can leverage our work.

The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry has been actively practicing BIM for longer than a decade. Over the course of many projects, people and companies have developed, refined, and standardized BIM workflows. These workflows vary between firms, often use common platforms, and fold in new software packages that supplement current workflows. But in current practice, BIM today doesn’t feel much different from 2010. There have been few radical advancements with anything other than incremental change.

We want to describe why we think our video, with the laser shark, represents a major course change for how we practice BIM.

BIM coordination of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems has always involved multiple software platforms because designers and contractors all plan their work using different modeling packages – Revit, AutoCAD, CAD-Duct/ CAD-MEP (now Fabrication), Tekla and many others. Autodesk Navisworks has long been the much-loved platform to bring all these different modeling program files together in one place for coordination. In recent years, cloud tools have been developed to replace Navisworks but these tools fall short compared to Navisworks’ usability. (This is both our opinion and what we believe is the generally accepted consensus.)

The drawback to Navisworks, however, is it is a coordination analysis and markup tool. Navisworks cannot make changes to modeled elements, other than transforming individual elements or entire sets of elements. This causes the following workflow steps:

  1. Documentation and markup of clash and coordination issues.
  2. Correction of routing in modeling platforms after coordination sessions.
  3. Re-coordination in Navisworks with updated files.
  4. Status tracking of clash and coordination issues.
  5. BuildingSP is using data to fundamentally change this workflow. Earlier this year, we announced an effort to “unlock” BIM and CAD data from the past projects of contractors, called Project Virga. CAD and BIM files are the DNA of a company – they show everything a contractor has built – and Project Virga originated because we made tech to unify and aggregate all of a MEP contractor’s past project data. Once extracted, we can organize, categorize, analyze, and reference the data to enable innovation in BIM. Our latest video is a demonstration of that leverage.

    In the video, you see an environment much like a typical coordination environment – multiple file types, combined to provide a complete picture of the coordination area. The coordination team can “fly” through the model and look for clashes – shown in red - and other coordination problems. But here’s where our work diverges from current practice. By selecting a MEP element on a route, we can make changes to immediately correct a clash while maintaining system integrity of the MEP route. Let’s say that a different way. You can correct clashes without returning to the original modeling platform!

    Considering the complete workflow, the next step would be to update the original model. As models are coordinated in Unity, we’re tracking all changes to the elements – location changes, re-sizing, and rotations. Using this data, we create a digital log of changes and use automation to make the necessary changes, with prompts from the modeler, if necessary. (If you’ve followed our other work, like ClashMEP and A2P, you know we’re BIM API experts.) This makes a bi-directional coordination workflow. We’re currently focused on Autodesk Fabrication support but will integrate Revit updates very soon.

    This workflow has very clear, immediate advantages. But we consider this work to be a next-generation BIM solution. Why is this a next generation BIM solution?

    The technical answer is the use of abstraction. We often use the word parametric to describe BIM but MEP systems have a curious attribute – they’re almost always connected to related parts in a network. MEP system parameters are shared between connected elements, which means parameters are less important because they can be described at a higher functional level. The connection between elements is more important and REALLY describes a system. We can use a computer science term – abstraction – to describe how we separate parameters into layers, which enables new capabilities. For example, Project Virga separates geometry – the shape of the part – from position data, allowing us to control position by adjusting the connection between elements. This may be a bit technical but here’s the result: when an element is selected and a move requested, we can examine the network of parts to determine how the system moves. In effect, we’re creating parametric systems, powered by data.

    Not convinced this is a next-gen solution? There’s more.

    The key feature we’re demonstrating is usability – the ability to interpret an input in order to make a functionally correct MEP system change. But if we can use a mouse to gather this input, we can certainly use an algorithm and computation - usability applies to both people and machines. Therefore, our clients will soon be using sophisticated MEP auto-routing tools, system configurators, and automatic coordination solution tools. (Remember GenMEP, our work in auto-routing in Revit?) In fact, the Unity 3D environment already has built-in software libraries for Machine Learning.

    Of course, the Unity 3D environment also benefits from many standard gaming engine features – VR / AR support, multi-user environments, mobile and phone interfaces, game controllers, and outstanding performance with complete control of customization. There are many other opportunities.

    In summary, we’re excited and currently starting projects with our clients. We’d love your feedback in the comments and look forward to your questions. In our next post, we'll describe the HUGE benefit of modeling automation for contractors and how generative design tools for construction teams will change the industry.

Webinar Recording: Introduction to ClashMEP

On February 6th, 2018, A2K Technologies hosted a webinar that introduced ClashMEP to their customers in Australia and New Zealand. ClashMEP offers real-time clash detection directly in Autodesk Revit and, in addition, creates a unique dataset that's transforming BIM analytics and management. A recording of the webinar is linked below. to provide an overview and demonstration of ClashMEP. ClashMEP is an add-on for the Autodesk Revit platform that adds real-time clash detection capabilities to the modeling environment.

The webinar was produced by A2K Technologies, an Autodesk Value Added Reseller, in conjunction with BuildingSP, the product developer.

Brett Young from BuildingSP on the ConTechCrew Podcast in Austin, TX

In November, Brett traveled to Austin, Texas to present at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America's Technology Conference. While there, Brett sat down with the ConTechCrew from JBKnowledge on their podcast and talked about BuildingSP's products, the freely available MCERF Complexity Measurement Tool for Revit, and the future impact of design automation on the AEC industry.

Discussions of pedicabs, national gross domestic product, and other unusual topics managed to creep in as well. We hope you'll give it a listen.

Click on the image below to listen or visit the ConTechCrew's websitefor a complete archive of podcasts.


Nathan Wood, Brett Young, James Benham, and Jeff Sample recording Episode 94 of the ConTechCrew's podcast in Austin, Texas.


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Announcement: Enterprise Agreement with Aurecon

BuildingSP is very pleased to announce an enterprise software agreement with Aurecon, a global engineering consulting and advisory firm. Aurecon, with operations across the globe, recognized the user, project, and enterprise value of ClashMEP, as well as the future potential of collaboration with our team. Both Aurecon and BuildingSP look forward to an exciting #DigitalCollaboration!

Special thanks to John Hainsworth for his leadership and guidance during Aurecon's evaluation and testing. More info about Aurecon at http://www.aurecon.com.

ClashMEP Feature Addition: "Silent" Mode

BuildingSP is excited to announce the addition of new capabilities to ClashMEP, the only real-time clash detection tool for Autodesk Revit. ClashMEP is a now a cloud-connected product that allows seamless workflow integration for teams using Revit.

At BuildingSP, we understand that the adoption of building information modeling (BIM) technology can be a challenge for modeling and coordination teams. To directly address this known obstacle, BuildingSP has added a new user mode to ClashMEP to remove adoption barriers. This new feature is called “silent mode” and turns ClashMEP into a passive clash detection tool linked to the cloud.

Silent mode is a minimum use case where all ClashMEP on-screen clash graphics, user interfaces, and other visible ClashMEP features are hidden from view. Despite being hidden, ClashMEP continues to track clashes and Revit element changes. All this data is then uploaded to our cloud infrastructure on every sync or save event, where it can be used for reporting, analytics, and dashboards. In silent mode, ClashMEP can be used in Revit with no training or changes to modeling workflows.

The value of this approach is the automation of the clash testing process for the general contractor (GC) and coordinators. We can automatically send a unique email to modelers with a list of their clashes, sorted by room and priority, everyday or at some other predetermined interval. It will only include clashes that they've created or clashes created by others against their elements. They can then use any tech they want to review and correct the clashes, including with ClashMEP.

ClashMEP, even in this minimum use case, provides projects with the following workflow innovations:

  1. Automated Clash Reporting: There is no need to run clash tests. Clashes are automatically collected and stored as users model in Revit.
  2. Sort by User: The user who created the clash is included in the clash data, which allows projects to sort and filter clashes by user.
  3. Sort by Room: Clashes can be sorted by room because the room name is also stored with the clash data.
  4. Prioritize: Clashes are prioritized using an algorithm created by BuildingSP, allowing teams to focus on the most important clashes.
  5. Responsible Parties: ClashMEP stores the user who creates, modifies, or edits any Revit element. Therefore, ClashMEP knows the users responsible for both elements when a clash occurs.

Using ClashMEP, even at this minimum level, creates value for the GC while integrating into existing workflows. It also still allows for the use of our product for real-time clash detection, dashboarding of project info, and access to analytics. Most importantly, this is an elegant solution that overcomes any concerns about the time it takes to adopt ClashMEP. If your team is using Revit, there is no behavior change required by trade modelers.

The Week in Summary: BIM for All Industries, 3D Printing Concrete & the South's New Tech Hub

We've made it to Friday yet again. Unless you're a hockey fan, this week of February means a bit of a sports drought, so let's take a look at what's been happening in the world of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC)!

Building information modeling (BIM), as its name would suggest, has revolutionized the way we design and construct buildings. But can BIM shake up the way we view other systems as well? According to a recent post on Engineering.com, it can and it is. BIM methodologies are being embraced for infrastructure projects, transportation, and even power utilities. As the article reports, "The benefits gained from shared, accurate, up-to-date digital 3D data and project information is not limited to any one industry or trade." Digital models that can be shared and updated across platforms prove beneficial to any industry that requires collaboration and coordination.

BuildingSP, Inc. Announces the Release of ClashMEP, An Add-In for Autodesk Revit

BuildingSP, Inc. is pleased to announce the release of ClashMEP, an add-in for Autodesk Revit. ClashMEP adds robust clash detection capabilities directly within the Revit environment in real time. As a user models mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, ClashMEP automatically detects clashes and identifies them on the Revit model. This removes the need for exports or uploads to do clash detection and clashes can be fixed in real time.

ClashMEP detects clashes with other Revit objects, IFC files, linked models, hidden models, and point clouds. The method of identifying clashes can be customized to your needs and clashes can be detected on a per-route or selected basis. Setup is as easy as turning on spell check in a word processing application.

"Over the past decade, I've done a lot of clash detection," says Brett Young, CEO of BuildingSP.  "ClashMEP revolutionizes the clash detection workflow because it changes it from a standalone process involving long meetings into a real-time, dynamic method of doing modeling. We are significantly enhancing the capabilities of the Revit modeling platform for MEP systems."

"ClashMEP is changing our business," says Danielle Dy Buncio, CEO of Viatechnik, a building information modeling (BIM) consulting firm. "The models we produce for clients are inherently of a higher quality because the feedback loop on clashes is immediate and we can correct them as we go."

ClashMEP is available for sale through the BuildingSP website at http://www.buildingsp.com.  Trials are also available for evaluation purposes.  

About BuildingSP, Inc.

BuildingSP, Inc. is a software development firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The firm is comprised of experts in both Building Information Modeling (BIM) and advanced algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.  For more information, visit www.buildingsp.com.

  

Media Contact

Name of Media Contact:  Brett Young

Contact Phone: 415.312.6242

Title of Media Contact:  CEO & Founder

Contact Email:  Brett@buildingsp.com

Company Name:  Building System Planning, Inc.

Website URL:   http://www.buildingsp.com

 

The Week in Summary: Singing Our Praises, Construction Tech & Beautiful Buildings

It seems we survived the first week of 2017. It's shaping up to be an interesting year, with predictions coming from all over the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space about how tech will change the industry in the coming 12 months. And, naturally, many of us are also taking a look back at what piqued our interest in 2016. So here's a look at what we talked about around the water cooler this week.

We've been buzzing with excitement at BSP lately, and it seems the buzz is catching. We're talking, of course, about our recent release of ClashMEP, our newest add-in for Autodesk Revit that allows for dynamic modeling of MEP systems with clashes detected as you model! Yes, you read that right. Clash detection is done against other Revit objects, linked models, IFCs, and point cloud, and it even works in C4R environments. We've had some great feedback from the likes of the ConTechTrio and Spectrum AEC, and look forward to sharing the platform with many more AEC professionals in the weeks to come. We'll also be at the San Francisco AEC Hackathon this weekend, so if you attend make sure to come visit us!

Latest ClashMEP Demonstration Videos

Clash Filtering

File-vs-File Clash Testing

Webinar with A2K Technologies

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