BIM technology is growing especially in the AEC sector. Everybody is talking about and describing benefits of BIM implementation and its influence on improving all aspects of AEC activities. Most frequently mentioned terms are efficiency, cost reduction, better quality, clash detection and so on.
Civil engineer with the high interest in implementing IT technologies in AEC field, Drazen Galic is the founder of a Croatian company called StudioARS. His main activity is software development for designing and maintaining pipe infrastructure (sewage, water distribution, …). Their software family, Urbano, is widely used in whole Europe. Urbano functions on top of Autodesk platform (AutoCAD, Map, Civil 3D).
Urbano has become quite popular in Turkey as well. Some private firms and public administrations started to implement BIM in their infrastructure projects and Urbano is one of the most used BIM ready infrastructural software. Prota Computer Inc is the only reseller of this software in Turkey.
What makes a software BIM ready?
What really makes some software BIM or BIM ready? Galic responds to this question as; It is very easy to say: Yes we support BIM workflow 100%!. In reality we can see many software packages which promote BIM support, but if you try to prove that statement and check BIM support aspects, sometimes results are not so great.
Galic continues; “So, now everything and everybody is BIM. How come? The reason is simple – it is not clear what BIM really means. Yes, in some countries, we have some general regulations in place (e.g. UK) , many BIM handbooks, recommendations, proposed standard file formats and so on. However, I still didn’t find a list of specific features which should be satisfied to label the software “BIM compatible“ or “BIM ready“
Here are some of Drazen Galic’s ideas to call a software BIM-ready;
- 3D. Elements which make some design should be created in 3D. 3D design definitely provides some advantages. There are different areas in AEC where design in 3D is very welcome but sometimes 3D design does not bring real benefits. If we take into account sewage or water distribution networks, except in cases where on a small area many pipes pass close to each other, design in 3D does not have real sense. Simply, one pipe can be too long in comparison to the diameter, for the designer to have real benefit of doing everything in 3D. My personal opinion is that the best option for designing pipe systems is to work in 2D and to switch to 3D when necessary. Can we say that the software is BIM ready if it works in 3D? I would say – NO.
- Data. All elements which are part of the design should have no restrictions when assigning data that completely defines and describes the nature and properties of the elements. Some of them are pure design data (diameter, slope, flow, velocity…). To describe real nature of every object we need much more. Attribute data can be used to describe some history, technology requirements, type of building, some conditions and so on. So, if some software tends to be BIM ready, it should have the possibility to define any kind of data, efficiently input all the data, inspect all the data, and so on. Can we say that some software without effective data management is BIM ready? I would say – NO
- Intelligent objects. Intelligent objects are definitely a benefit in the design. But what is the role of such objects from BIM point of view? When we talk about BIM workflow, we always have in mind group of stakeholders in one complex design. For different purposes participants are using different software packages. I still didn’t see that different software platforms can exchange fully defined intelligent objects which will have the same behavior. I think the reason is obvious: there is no precise standard or definition for different objects. For example, pipe in Civil 3D is an intelligent object, but when imported to Navisworks it is treated as simple 3D solid. So, can we say that software is BIM if it uses intelligent objects? I would say – NO.
- Communication. From my point of view BIM really means communication that will enable exchange of all design objects among different participant groups. It is very important to preserve all the data defined in all phases of BIM workflow. Of course, we always have the same problem: what is the standard for information exchange? There are several, which means there is no single one which will satisfy all the requirements. Most frequently we mention IFC. But in the current moment IFC in infrastructure design doesn’t include definition for pipes and structures. Additional problem is that there is no enough support, libraries, API shells which would guarantee that the creation of IFC will be successful.
Urbano is a BIM ready software
Although Galic is Urbano Development Manager and his opinion cannot be fully objective, he fully believes that urbano is a BIM ready software;
- 3D. Urbano can work both in 2D and 3D, it is question of applied style. Average designer will mostly work in 2D and when necessary switch to 3D. Work in 2D is much faster and simpler. Appropriate views – profiles and sections – can give enough information to check the design. All views are completely dynamic, which means that every change in layout or profile will be automatically updated in the model.
- Data. Urbano has both design and additional data (user data). The status of both groups is completely the same. There are flexible procedures for data input based on intelligent element selection (multiple data for multiple elements at once). Both groups can be used everywhere in the software – labeling, data grids, profiles… It is up to the user to define any number of data which will fit his design purposes.
- Intelligent objects. Urbano does not have intelligent objects (pipes or structures). It is based on Autodesk basic elements – lines, polylines, blocks… Application gives them all the necessary intelligent behavior through many specific functions.
- Communication. From the very beginning, Urbano was designed as very open software. When designing the software, one should keep in mind that the world does not start or finish with the design of underground utilities. Urbano supports many file standards, including databases, Esri SHP, LandXML, IsyBAU, XLS, TXT, INP… Support is managed bidirectionally – both read and write.