“Interoperability has been a significant area of development,” says Carl Taylor, engineering segment manager for Tekla, a Trimble company. As part of its effort in BIM adoption, Tekla has released Tekla BIMsight, a free tool for project communication and collaboration.
Accessibility is the bottom line for precast producers. “The open source technology makes BIM a lot more attractive,” says Greika. “Now we’re not tied to a specific software just because our customers are using it.”
The complexity of precast concrete construction can be considered a drawback or a benefit within BIM, compared with another material such as steel. To software manufacturers, it represents “a number of challenges,” says Taylor. “One major factor is its complex piece geometry, including warping, cambering, and shortening. There are also custom connections between multiple pieces that are unique to each fabricator and situation.”
From PCI’s perspective, the custom-built aspect is a distinct advantage. “Precast concrete components and systems are engineered to order by the industry,” says Becker. “Typical building specifications delegate that design to the precast producer. All key information is developed as part of the delivery process, so concerns for liability in sharing models will not be a constraint in implementation.”
Putting BIM into practice
Precasters must commit the resources to make BIM work at the plant level. At Coreslab, this means uploading each of its precast elements into Revit, so architects and engineers have them at their fingertips. “It’s up to us to make sure our products are in designers’ BIM libraries, so it’s easier for them to design with precast than another material,” says Greika.
“Precast producers must understand that BIM is not just software to create drawings in a new way,” says Taylor. “It’s a whole new way of working that requires business process changes. Our most successful customers have incorporated BIM throughout all departments.”
Investing in BIM includes hard costs associated with software, hardware, and training, and what Taylor calls “softer costs” of process change. “The benefits in overall efficiency, communication, and productivity are sometimes difficult to measure,” he says, “but they extend far beyond engineering and detailing.”
Shelby O. Mitchell is a Berwyn, Ill.-based writer and the former editor of TCP. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For links to more information on BIM for precast, visit the following:
“Setting a Standard in Building Information Modeling,” Architect, April 2014
The U.S. is behind in embracing national BIM guidelines, but industry leaders are tackling key obstacles including software development and national standards.
“BIM Makes Leap Forward,” The Concrete Producer, Jan. 2012
TCP reports on developments in BIM data exchange and the establishment of the Precast National BIM Standard (NBIMS).
“Design Assist Collaboration
,” Ascent, Fall 2013
Gate Precast contributes as a design-assist partner offering design and detailing innovations including the creation of a BIM model, development of the specialized mixes and finishes, and scheduling enhancements.
Tekla Global BIM Awards 2013
The BIM software manufacturer has been showcasing its customers’ best work since 2010.
“TCP Influencers 2013: Modeling for Masonry,” The Concrete Producer, Nov./Dec. 2013
David Biggs is a champion for BIM for masonry products, with the success of the precast segment as an inspiration.