Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Steel detailers: BIM pioneers?

From all participants working in construction, steel manufacturers have managed to mimic manufacturing processes to highest degree. The idea of aligning  CAD with CAM has existed in this field for long time and the most sophisticated modelling related to construction-based shop drawings has been – and is being done by using steel structural software (Tekla, StruCAD);
I remember going to sites long ago and observing contractors looking at steel shop drawings to resolve coordination issues irrelevant to the steel-structure;
I’ve witnessed steel detailers being asked by clients to model ‘other’ (concrete, masonry, joinery) building bits to visually confirm design and assist with construction.
It was a matter of time for these guys to start taking advantage of their skills and reach over into the full ‘coordination’;
Nowadays many ex-steel detailing companies offer ‘coordination services’, clash detection (see yesterday’s post too!), sequencing, site logistics and other services loosely fitting under BIM.
On one hand, I am delighted this is happening – and about time it is!
On the other hand, am concerned. We are going down the road well travelled when Project Managers were established into construction;
Skills were missing, some that had those put their hands up and created a ‘niche’ service that soon enough dominated the industry;
Now, managing project information is at stake, steel manufacturers are at the forefront of becoming the project information custodians.

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