Part 3 - Building Information Modeling Case Study from the Marshall Space Flight Center
Ed note: This is part three of a three-part article on this subject. The first part appeared on June 7 and the second part appeared on June 14.
What are future steps toward newer BIM processes?
Implementing new technologies into a set of existing processes is one
of the hardest things for any organization to do. BIM is not only very
expensive, but it is also very time-consuming and takes patience to see
the benefits. In order to be successful, the transition must be based
upon a sound, comprehensive strategy. An organization has to look at
the big picture, gather the strategies that it uses currently, and
figure out how newer technologies can be implemented. The first issue
to be addressed is how existing documentation would be utilized by the
new process. Guidelines need to be developed for the implementation of
the new design methods because the transition is not as simple as a new
software update, but rather to a completely new design process.
Once the transition is laid out, a BIM team needs to be assembled to
begin the change process. The team must be made up of people from a
variety of disciplines - not just CAD operators - to allow the
transition to be viewed from different perspectives. It is the team's
duty to analyze the existing tools and lay out the new design process
using BIM. The team needs to organize the new software and the training
that will be needed. These new processes should take place continuously
throughout the course of a new project, as a form of learning on the
job. This is done to prevent lost productivity during the learning and
then implementation phases.
Once the new team and process are defined and adequate training has
been completed, the first BIM project can be selected. It is easiest to
begin with a project that has already been done before, something the
firm or organization knows how to do. The goal is to catch mistakes
since the project is familiar to the design team. This allows the users
to see the productivity they are gaining using the BIM methods. After
this project is complete, the team will feel more comfortable with the
new process and will be able to move forward with new projects,
learning and adapting as they go along. Some good examples of
transition and implementation can be seen in the Army Corps of
Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard. (See Case Study 2 in Appendix 1 (PDF).)
What would BIM implementation cost?
As part of the research process, MSFC used a Bentley BIM consultant to
analyze existing processes and recommend a plan for implementing BIM.
During the analysis, it became evident that MSFC was performing at a
high BIM level, but came up just short with the modeling software that
could push it to the top. As part of the recommendations for
implementing BIM, Bentley proposed a workshop with the group to
showcase newer BIM technologies and processes. From the workshop,
Marshall could then analyze the software and its results, and then make
a decision on whether or not to utilize BIM's full capabilities. There
were separate expenses for the workshop.
In closing, Marshall Space Flight Center is currently doing BIM. On the
surface, MSFC may not match the standard, but enough processes are in
use that it can certainly be classified as BIM. In place of the BIM
accredited model, the FacGIS is a revolutionary tool that is essential
to the design and construction of facilities projects. While using the
FacGIS, MSFC is performing BIM processes on almost every level. MSFC
does not feel that a BIM accredited model needs to be mandated to
increase productivity, as its current process is very dynamic and
efficient. With the time and money needed to fully implement BIM
models, the return on investment would simply not be great enough for
MSFC. Looking toward the future, NASA will always investigate newer
technologies that can help with project design and construction.
Marshall Space Flight Center will continue with the development of the
FacGIS and investigating new technologies, making the appropriate
advancements to keep up with today's ever growing technology fields.
Ed. note: Some specific cost figures were removed after this article was published at the request of the author.