Automated Estimating and Scheduling Using BIM (AEC in Focus Column)1 Sep, 2007 By: AIA ,H. Edward Goldberg
Several BIM programs have evolved to aid contractors.
Although architects and engineers are often mentioned as the main beneficiaries of building information modeling (BIM), the construction industry itself has much to gain because it spends a great deal of money during the construction process itself. One of the major benefits of BIM is that it includes information about length, width, and volume, as well as information about content such as doors, windows, and finishes, all of which can be used for estimation. BIM has yet another benefit for the construction industry: the ability to simulate the actual construction sequence of a project. For contractors, this ability, often called 5D, is often as important as the cost of the components themselves. The correct scheduling of manpower and sequencing of construction events, especially on large projects, can mean the difference between profit and loss.
DProfiler with RSMeans is a macro BIM application used in the planning and conceptual design phases to produce an accurate cost estimate of a proposed design and to help owners answer the most fundamental question early in the process — namely, "Should I build this project?" With this software, cost analysis is available during the planning and conceptual design phases. Integration with RSMeans or Sage Timberline data provides real-time access to more than 180,000 cost items so that interactive cost estimating can be performed on the fly while modeling a concept.
DProfiler is simple and easy to use for sketching concepts. The 3D modeling component is full featured and has the ability to model the site, site items, the building envelope, floors, and interiors (figure 1). The model can be viewed from any vantage point, and measuring and takeoff tools make data access and quantification simple.
Figure 1. DProfiler with RSMeans can be a very valuable pre-construction tool because it can produce estimates to be used downstream within US COST's Success Estimator or Sage Timberline Estimating Extended.
Taking advantage of BIM, Innovaya Visual Estimating v9.4 performs cost estimating accurately by delivering objects from Autodesk's Architectural Desktop, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit Architecture to Sage Timberline (figure 2).
Figure 2. Innovaya Visual Estimating accurately performs cost estimating by delivering objects from Autodesk's Architectural Desktop, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit Architecture to Sage Timberline.
The Innovaya products include Visual BIM, Visual Quantification, Visual Estimating, and Composer for Revit Architecture, Architectural Desktop, and AutoCAD Architecture. For construction planning, the company has introduced Innovaya Visual Simulation v3, its 4D application. Everything integrates with Sage Timberline Estimating.
Visual BIM offers visibility controls for 3D objects. It organizes the objects by their building sections as well as the component types. Then users can adjust the visibility and transparency of these objects easily using visibility controls. As a result, object details can be examined thoroughly in 3D view. Visual BIM also offers mark-up and e-mail functions to assist communication among project members. Visual BIM users can enter comments directly onto a snapshot of the 3D design and send it via e-mail to project members.
Visual Quantification performs object quantity takeoff from Autodesk Architectural Desktop or Revit. It can automatically generate complete object quantities directly from a design model. This process usually takes several seconds to complete for the entire building model. The quantities are extracted based on object types and their dimensions. Quantity extraction methods can be user-customized and reused for multiple projects.
Visual Estimating generates object quantities directly from a design model in seconds or minutes, depending on the approach. The quantities are extracted based on object types and their dimensions. The quantities can be organized and saved by different classifications such as Construction Specification Institute (CSI) or Uniformat. The quantities also are linked automatically with the objects that can be viewed in 3D. Finally, these quantities can be used to create reports in Microsoft Excel or to perform assembly and item takeoff within Visual Estimating using Timberline engines.
Composer for Revit Architecture, Architectural Desktop, and AutoCAD Architecture is an add-on program for Revit Building, Revit Structure, Architectural Desktop, and AutoCAD Architecture. It imports the Revit, Architectural Desktop, and Architecture building and structural element information into an Innovaya project model then exports the model into an INV file, which can be read by all Innovaya visual applications for visualization, communication, quantity takeoff, cost estimating, and construction simulating.
Architects, engineers, construction managers, owners, and government agencies have been using Success Estimator since 1991. Success Design Exchange now combines the power of both Success Estimator and Auto-desk's Revit Architecture to create highly accurate estimates.
When a project model is ready to be transferred for estimating, Success Design Exchange gives users a list of all Revit Items contained in the model. Users then can link or map these generic items to any number of client-specific or commercial cost databases. These databases can contain individual cost items or assemblies complete with labor, equipment, and material costs. After an item has been mapped in Success Design Exchange, that map will remain in place for future projects using the same item; therefore, each additional project that users run through Design Exchange will require less mapping than their previous project.
When the mapping is complete, Success Design Exchange pushes the information to Success Estimator, which generates an estimate, complete with all quantities and costs (figure 3). Users can then modify productivity factors, mark ups, tax rates, or any adjustments necessary to produce a highly accurate estimate.
Figure 3. After mapping, US COST's Success Design Exchange pushes information to Success Estimator to generate an estimate with all quantities and costs.
US COST offers its own 20,000-line-item database that covers all 16 CSI divisions free of charge, an RSMeans database (estimates can also be adjusted for specific regions by instantly applying the RSMeans city index factors), and Aspen Technologies Richardson database for heavy-process pipe and equipment.
Vico Software's Constructor 2007 is a complete program to build 5D construction models and link them with such scheduling applications as Vico Software's Control, Primavera P3, and Microsoft Project. Included in Constructor 2007 is a construction modeling system based on Graphisoft's ArchiCAD, an estimator connector, a 4D sequencer, a schedule integration tool, and a publish-to-5D presenter (figure 4).
Figure 4. Vico Software's Constructor 2007 builds 5D construction models and links them with scheduling applications such as Vico Software's Control, Primavera P3, and Microsoft Project.
Vico Software's Estimator 2007 is an innovative estimating system that supports model-based and traditional estimating.
Vico Software's Control 2007 is a schedule planning and production control system that allows users to compress project schedules. Control 2007 uses location-based scheduling methodology. Vico Software's Cost Manager 2007 is an application for the graphic presentation of budget/estimate information published either from Estimator 2007 or Microsoft Excel.
Vico Software's 5D Presenter 2007 allows users to publish a viewer model from Graphisoft Constructor that includes time and cost information from Estimator 2007 and Control 2007 to provide an interactive, realistic view of a project.
DesignEst Pro is WinEst's estimating product. The product is currently in beta version with a number of large AEC firms, and at the time of this writing is expected to be commercially available in August.
DesignEst Pro is integrated with Revit Architecture 2008. Using the Revit API, WinEst has given users the ability to map their Revit Elements and their respective properties to the corresponding objects and properties in a WinEst cost-estimating database (figure 5).
Figure 5. WinEst's DesignEst Pro is integrated with Revit Architecture 2008 and uses the Revit API.
The basic elements that come standard with Revit are already mapped to the corresponding objects in two WinEst cost databases: the WinEst Commercial CAD database and the RSMeans building construction cost database with assemblies. A hallmark of DesignEst Pro is the user-defined ability to map custom Revit elements to the corresponding objects in the WinEst database. The audit capabilities allow the cost estimate to be continually updated to reflect changes in the design.
Which of the Following has Your AEC Firm Adopted as Its Primary Standard?
H. Edward Goldberg, AIA, NCARB, is a practicing licensed architect and AEC industry analyst. Ed's full-length book, AutoCAD Architecture 2008: A Comprehensive Tutorial (Prentice Hall, www.prenhall.com) is now available. His new Revit Architecture book will be available in winter 2007. Visit www.hegra.com for more information or e-mail email@example.com.