Manufacturers’ Part in BIM

BIM window article
Manufacturers are scurrying to support BIM platforms with usable content so when a client sees a design, it’s their brand’s products on display. The files manufacturers are providing today are so true to their real-world products that in 3D formats, one can distinguish an oak finish from a cherry finish. 

Project Manager Parley Burnett at Locati Architects says when he first started using Revit 13 years ago, “architects thought manufacturers’ content was risky. The content was bloated, too detailed, and possibly came with some baggage.” All these factors slowed computers down. “Architects preferred to use their own content,” explains Burnett, “but as computer hardware has gotten better, manufacturers’ content leaner and Revit itself has improved, there has been a significant shift towards using manufacturers’ content.”

The two most dynamic and challenging features of any building are elevators followed closely by windows and doors. Jared Hammerand, Architectural Content Manager at Andersen Windows, Inc., explains the struggle for windows and doors is they are extremely dynamic products. Custom windows and doors aside, even standard sizes can have a ton of options and structural implications. Glass type, grille patterns, interior color, exterior color, operation type and Revit’s own parameters only allow for a portion of them. “Creating more user-friendly BIM content is something we’re committed to” says Hammerand, “a portion of our extensive portfolio is on Revit with more scheduled for release later this year.” 
When manufacturers embed detailed information into the BIM file, the product’s value is connected to the broader building system. Having information on how a product fulfills the sustainability, energy use, aesthetic and performance objectives gives the owner a greater understanding of why a product was chosen. Having this information on demand also gives the architect the power to approve or disapprove a substitution with a greater level of authority.

Because product decisions are being made at the design stage, manufacturers need to have their products in BIM friendly formats. If manufacturers do nothing and wait until the construction phase, they may never be considered at all.