Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I feel misled by my media upbringing. It's 2012 and I thought we were promised weapon-ized lasers hijacked by Doogie-Howser-style geniuses to pop popcorn and destroy a house. In stead we use lasers to scan millions of points and stitch together impossibly intricate point clouds. Gathering current condition 3D models to an unparalleled degree. At the same time Building Information Modeling software technology has matured to include facilities models delivered for new construction and renovation work.

High Definition 3D Laser Scanning. Tools have emerged that allow us to visualize and vectorize (I added that word to my dictionary) a point cloud in Revit. I think there is a lot of confusion regarding this technology train wreck and I thought I would throw some gasoline on the fire.

To scan is not to model; those are 2 extremely different plateaus of work. Many scanning providers are looking to expand their services by delivering not only the scan, but the delivery of a model and some cases an intelligent (read: Revit) model. In an effort to ramble as little as possible, here are a few points and technology reviews about scanning and BIM.

Point 1: A scan, all by itself, can be of great value for capturing existing conditions for coordination and communication purposes. If there is not good reason to add the complexity of a model, don’t.

Point 2: Users modeling in Revit from a scan have to be very good with Revit.

Point 3: There is NO one tool that delivers the ability to visualize and vectorize a point cloud into a building information model, but a series of tools that have unique functionality.

Point 4: Point clouds are really complex and not right for many situations, this is not an area of a project you want to square-peg- round-hole it. Get it wrong and you'll way over-promise.

Autodesk's PCG file format - Not enough visual options, can snap to points as you draw in Revit

Leica Cloudworx for Revit - Uses IMP file to store and manage database. Lots of visualization options, managing clipping plane functionality is awesome and makes this an essential tool for working with point clouds of any format
(as long as you can get it into Leica's database). Pipe tools are really fast and accurate.

IMAGINiT Scan to BIM - Wall Region Grow anyone? Its awesome, and nothing touches it from an architectural modeling standpoint. From an MEP side, round and rectangular duct. Oh, and did I mention that it works on Leica point cloud databases? As essential as a modeling tool as Cloudworx is essential a visualization tool.

Autodesk Labs Feature Extraction - This one is clearly a technology preview, not done cooking yet. It does work with the Leica point Clouds and has an extremely promising building footprint tool.

At IMAGINiT we have great partnerships with Autodesk and Leica as well as a very talented internal software development team (part of our parent company Rand Worldwide). In other words, We have many more experts and opinions on BIM and 3D HDS, inquire within.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The New BIM Population

You might have noticed them, invading your user groups, listening intently at every event, asking different questions, and then they introduce themselves… Facilities groups. Owner representatives with increasing expectations and a pressing need to leverage technology. Sound familiar? Well it should. Facilities use of BIM is a decade behind the AEC industry and long term owners are now becoming aware of BIM and asking for it. Are you ready?

These are usually organizations in flux, expanding or under corporate mandate for a massive technology shift. They find themselves needing to assert themselves where they haven't before, without clear direction as to the ramifications of what they are asking for. 

Usually facilities groups are educated in BIM when new construction projects are in the design/documentation/construction process. Attending a BIM coordination meeting , they see the value of the model and they are hooked. What they miss is all the steps it took to get there. The mechanics of collaboration seem straightforward, just put the models together, coordinate, and build better buildings.

This situation turns the architect/engineer/contractor into a BIM educator when the stakes are high. Oversell and the expanded scope eats your margin up. Undersell and you risk seeming unsophisticated in BIM and losing future work. The right balance of education and added value for you and your clients could spell tangible success. Success that you can both wear proudly, success that shepherds your firm into the next decade of model integration.