Design efficiently and with confidence using Scan to BIM data

It’s the age-old challenge for every designer… how can I be more efficient in my design process?

Or, more specifically, how can I spend more time on delivering a quality design and less on the necessary production development, while maintaining lean costs and billing my clients as soon as targets are met? The answer lies in procuring as much accurate data as early in the project as possible and using that data as a foundation for future design and documentation. My career journey in architecture and time with CMS Surveyors has placed me in a unique position to view this challenge and helped CMS to create solutions for architects and designers with the dynamic technology of scan surveying.

Interestingly enough, there seems to be a general consensus in the industry that the use of BIM software offers cost and time benefits when compared against a more “traditional” CAD offering. However having followed this subject for some time, I have noticed that there is little or no empirical data to support this idea, or that data which exists seems to be a series of unrelatable numbers…

“62% of BIM users surveyed say they see positive ROI on their overall investment in BIM” says one advertisement, urging us all to adopt or die. The truth is every practice is different and every project is different and placing a quantifiable profit margin on the process is generally not feasible – but we still know BIM is a better option. It’s faster, more powerful and keeps us competitive in a market that expects more from us for less. But how does it provide us and our client better value for money?

Not surprisingly this is not a new conundrum, and BIM is only the latest in a line of industry advancements to champion the forward momentum of one important aspect of successful design – that is data collection and its use in the project. This solution stems from the concept that the more accurate site data you collect and extrapolate into a drawing or model at the earliest possible opportunity, the more time you have for design consideration. This in turn creates a better product with less errors, less cost adjustments on site, less risk of litigation, less time on costly drawing amendments and less stress.

BIM is a tool to help make this a reality.

In particular, the use of 3D modelling packages like Autodesk Revit enable the creation of large amounts of building elements and information that, although initially a complex task, creates demonstrable time savings at later stages of the project. The name “Revit” by all reports is a portmanteau of “Revise” and “Instantly” and was devised to imply the speed by which revisions can be undertaken. This is again based on the idea that the more data and modelling done earlier in the project, the more savings are made if changes are required at a later stage when time costs far more and errors have material implications.

Even before BIM was an everyday acronym in our lives, industry leaders such as American architect Patrick MacLeamy recognised the need to readjust our design and documentation timelines to achieve more desirable results. MacLeamy came up with a concept and associated graph which now bears his name. The “MacLeamy Curve” simply represents the differences between a traditional project timeframe whereby the design and modelling is a slow but exponential growth of data and documentation which is exposed to the dangers of high cost and high risk due to inevitable design changes after the tender stage and during construction versus a model which provides the vast majority of data and modelling at an early stage to allow more resources into the design development stage.

What is clear is that the procurement of accurate building data and modelling as early as possible in the project leads to greatly reduced risk of cost overruns and the risk of material loss and litigation which seems to be the de rigueur reaction at the result of any adverse cost event.

Having worked for some time now with CMS, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to the latest in 3D scanning technology. This exciting innovation provides pin point accurate site data which can be extrapolated into various outputs. We are having great success currently with converting this vast “cloud” of scan data into fully functional BIM models for architects and designers. Along with a fantastic team of BIM modelling, surveying and IT professionals, CMS has developed its own processes and deliverables to turn a high resolution 3D scan into BIM models and CAD plans. The emphasis is on providing the client a bespoke service which we achieve with personal interaction and a “menu” of options to suit any level of detail and budget. At CMS we pride ourselves in being a locally based team at the forefront of scan to BIM innovation.

Considering the concepts already discussed, the benefits of a scan to BIM model are clear in providing a survey accurate model to begin your further work at the very beginning of the design timeline. CMS innovations such as our scaled scan images, enable early design decisions based on known site and building elements creating the ability to make confident inroads into the design journey. Thus the Preliminary Design and Design Development stages can be achieved in less time and with less risk of forced changes due to erroneous site information. In all there can be no doubt that having a 3D scan with various outputs saves time and money over the project life and greatly reduces your risk of construction cost overruns (and angry clients wanting to know who is going to pay for this!).

Interested in learning more?

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