• Field Notes 01.12.2010

    The last two blog posts focused on a host of glazing system information that can be included in BIM models. So what? What practical use does it have for glaziers? Wrapping it all up, here are some ways BIM can help streamline glaziers’ work.


    • At the click of an icon (and with the right kind of software development – this isn’t happening just ’cause an icon was clicked), a complete material list can be generated, including fasteners, glass sizes, extrusion lengths and quantities, finishing square footages (by part or in whole), etc.
    • Linked-in software can optimize material lengths.
    • Material spreadsheets can automatically be sent to suppliers for pricing.
    • Quantities for shop and field labor can either be built into the estimating software based on downloaded quantities from the BIM model, or built into the BIM models themselves.
    • Shipping and quantity weights (for extrusions, anchors, etc.) can be developed.

    Structural Engineering:

    • First, a word from our lawyers:  no engineering analysis should ever be completed without review by a licensed professional engineer (now I can sleep tonight).
    • There are third-party software applications being developed for structural engineers to work directly from BIM models.
    • Preliminary engineering analysis can be completed, optimal splice locations can be adjusted or played with to cut down on profile weights/sizes.
    • Members needing reinforcing are flagged, and various reinforcing scenarios can be analyzed for optimal cost and shop labor savings.

    Submittal and Part Drawing Engineering:

    • The BIM model acts as the real-world, 3D control for all dimensions on the project.  Elevations of the BIM model can be drawn in 2D, but the dimensional control, be it vertical or horizontal, is maintained in the BIM model.
    • On flat walls, this may not be much of an advantage.  But as more architects are drawing the windows and curtain wall in 3D, this functionality becomes critical.
    • The parts are completely modeled with all their holes, notches, preps and any and all machining in 3D or BIM.  Exporting them to a more manufacturing-friendly software environment is possible.  It may also be possible in the not too distant future to eliminate the part drawing altogether, and move the part directly from the model to the CNC machinery in the shop for fabrication.

    Production and Field Installation Crews

    • Access to the part drawing, manufacturer, or material supplier is possible once the model has been updated with the final part or mark number.
    • The user can click on a part in the model, find the length, finish, supplier of any portion, and links to the PO. In essence, the history of the part is instantly at their fingertips (or in the case of the computer, at the touch of a mouse).  No more calling back to the office.
    • Shipping info, such as when it was delivered, what crate number it was packed in, and where that crate is on the building can be added.

    For the owner and architect, the BIM model can be a useful tool for tying in maintenance schedules, product data on materials used in the project (the sealant, the glass, the finishes, etc.), ordering the correct replacement parts, be they glass or door hardware, etc.  All the manufacturing and installation information, down to the smallest screw, could be embedded in the model.

    So who pays?  It’s not yet clearly defined who will bear the costs of adding such data.  My guess is that as contracts are written and scopes of work are defined, the glazing sub is going to know or be asked to incorporate a certain level of detail for those projects whose owners choose to implement BIM.  The GSA is leading a lot of efforts to include such data in their projects, and the GCs and architects, as part of their services, are certainly going down the path towards a more robust implementation.

    What all this means to the glazing sub is hard to say.  BIM hasn’t made its way that far down the pipeline.  Yet.  There’s a couple of ways this could go:

    • The bigger glazing subcontractors are experimenting and learning the base point lessons now.  One company is doing complete turnkey curtain walls based on a fully modeled curtain wall.  All of their material procurement and engineering is based on a single 3D model, and they are doing some of the more interesting and innovative architectural projects out there.  Granted, being a large company allows the horsepower to be devoted to this, including company resources and manpower.
    • The smaller companies may look to the manufacturers as part of their engineering services to take this on.  That works to some degree, but only for the manufacturer’s operations, upstream from the glazing sub.  Nothing would be built into that BIM model that may be of value to the glazing sub, without specific agreement between manufacturer and sub.  That scenario would cut off any benefit to the glazing sub within their own operations and certainly downstream to their field crews and to the owner and/or architect as well.  The glazing sub may have to take it upon themselves to add anything they the glazing sub want to add to the model to benefit their own operations or for their downstream customers.

    Like CAD was in the ’80s, it may not be long until BIM is more readily accepted.  The initial momentum looks encouraging, and it’s going to be VERY interesting to see how all this turns out.

    Posted by Blogger @ 8:31 am

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