CAD Manager's Newsletter (#379)

7 Mar, 2017 By: Robert Green

BIM Is Becoming More Difficult

Paradoxically, as building information modeling (BIM) becomes more commonplace, it's not getting any easier — it's just the opposite.

It's a simple rule: The more you do something, the easier it becomes. Well, maybe that's the rule for most things, but not for building information modeling (BIM). Now that BIM has become an expectation on many design projects and more parties are drawn into it, the process is getting more challenging, not less. In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, we'll flesh out some of the increasingly complex issues I'm asked about by a variety of CAD and BIM managers. Here goes.

Complicating Factors

So why is BIM getting harder? Here are the complaints I hear most often, along with some background information.

It's no longer limited to the building and the core systems. Five years ago, a building with the basic mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) discipline systems placed inside it would have been considered a completed BIM project. Now the expectation is to include many more elements, such as fire protection systems, electrical schematic integration, energy analysis, tie-ins to geographic information system (GIS) data for utilities location and water runoff analysis, interior building components (including machinery and office layouts), etc.

The magnitude of the projects has grown. Higher-powered workstations and server architecture software tools are allowing much larger projects to be tackled in BIM than just a few years ago. The expanded size and scope of the projects brings us to our next problem ...

Big projects require larger, more specialized staffs. The inclusion of additional disciplines and systems means that more specialized design talent will be used on the project. Many times these specialized contributors may be outside resources — think structural or MEP contractors — and all these laborers will have their own preferred software tools that must be coordinated with the master BIM project.

Nobody is quite sure how to fit it all together. Ask an executive from Autodesk or Bentley Systems how they propose you handle all these complexities, and you won't receive a complete answer. The reality is that the software vendors are struggling with how to get all this stuff coordinated, just like we are.


Network infrastructures are far more complex. Even if you can solve all the coordination issues and make all the software work together in theory, getting it to work in the real world with multiple cloud providers, sluggish WAN connections, and varying security policies make the IT part of BIM a real headache.

Management doesn't get it. Now that senior management teams have heard the word BIM for a few years, they think it's a familiar technology that's as simple as running a CAD application, so they don't worry about it anymore. This lack of understanding often means that BIM coordination isn't included in customer or vendor contracts, so the CAD or BIM manager ends up dealing with it. Read more »

Tools and Resources

Cadalyst Special Report Explores Mobile CAD
A new two-part special report from the editors of Cadalyst discusses current and future mobile CAD use, factors limiting mobile CAD adoption, and changes afoot in the market, plus applications of mobile CAD in the manufacturing industry. Sponsored by Microsoft.Download Part 1Download Part 2

What's New at

Stratasys Replaces Dimension Line, Reflecting Shifts in Rapid Prototyping Market
The F123 series is intended to help less-experienced users produce prototypes at a lower cost than the company's previous generation of 3D printing technology. Read more »

Generating Sketchy Lines in Revit Views
This Pluralsight video tutorial shows how to adjust line quality for a hand-drawn look. Watch the video »

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Carry Out Mass Project Path Updates for AutoCAD Electrical Project
Whenever AutoCAD Electrical is upgraded, the default symbol library paths must be updated on all past project files — a time-consuming process. This tutorial demonstrates using a LISP routine to make this task easier. Read more »

AutoCAD Video Tips: Get More from Your AutoCAD Command Line with AutoComplete
Do you have your INPUTSEARCHOPTIONS dialog configured in a way that works for you? In this video from Cadalyst and Lynn Allen, you'll learn how to customize AutoComplete for maximum productivity. Watch the video »

Introducing the Advanced Mates in SOLIDWORKS
In this quick tutorial, viewers will get an overview of some SOLIDWORKS mate types and see where to find them in the software. Watch the video »

Understanding Curtain Wall Restraints in Autodesk Revit
This tutorial introduces the properties and parameters that govern how the Revit curtain wall works. Watch the video »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

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