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How StreamBIM boosts productivity at every stage of your construction project

Written by Ole Kristian Kvarsvik, Rendra

StreamBIM eliminates bottlenecks at every stage of the building process.

It’s well known that the construction industry is struggling with productivity.

At Rendra, we’re intimately familiar with every aspect of the building process. We’re adamant that a lack of cooperation is the main reason why building projects are prone to delays, budget overruns, and mistakes.

We’re convinced that the implementation of BIM will mitigate many of the challenges. The precondition is that the 3D BIM-model is used more frequently by more users. Thus, we have defined the following goal:

We will develop the world’s most intuitive and user-friendly BIM-platform that  work for desktops, smartphones, and tablets.

What is StreamBIM?

StreamBIM is a BIM application that stands out in two important ways:

  1. The lowest user threshold available: A PC, tablet or smartphone is all it takes to get started, meaning BIM is no longer an office-only tool: it fits in your pocket and can be used at the construction site.

  2. Always up to date: StreamBIM streams documents and models from the project hotel, which means:
    1. You’re always working with the latest revision and so is everyone else on the project;
    2. The data load is easily manageable.

Point b is important because an IFC-model can amount to hundreds of megabytes – if not gigabytes. It’s impractical to handle large amounts of data from a cellphone at a construction site. StreamBIM only downloads the parts of the building you’re actually exploring. That makes the BIM model available from anywhere, whether you’re on your daily commute or at the construction site wondering where to core drill next.

These two factors offer an enormous potential for productivity increases at every stage of the building process:

  • The design phase
  • Construction
  • Operations

The design phase: Smooth interaction yields good buildings

Of everyone involved in the building process, building designers are typically the most familiar with BIM. The technology became mainstream 10–15 years ago, but some enthusiasts have been using it north of 20 years.

BIM provides limited value when the project groups (architects, engineers) work independently from each other. The real value presents itself when you merge the 3D models from all the subdisciplines because that’s when the interdisciplinary issues appear. It’s only after BIM becomes a fully integrated part of the value chain that we will be able to reap the rewards.  

That’s precisely why we created StreamBIM.

The BIM model is uploaded to StreamBIM where it’s easily distributed to the project management, subdisciplines, and other stakeholders. StreamBIM thus forms an ideal platform for project meetings and protocols, revisions, and internal communication throughout the project. The user interface is optimized for handheld units and is especially well-suited for touch screens. StreamBIM is also an excellent tool for VDC/ICE-meetings.

Building designers who begin to use StreamBIM can expect a significantly improved experience when it comes to

  • User feedback and expectation management
  • Information flow and control
  • Production of paper drawings (they’re largely redundant)

User feedback

Let end users navigate and participate in the design proposal – the 3D model – from the get-go.

Previously, users had limited insight into the proposed building or project beyond 2D drawings and project meetings. StreamBIM allows anyone to use the model right away, even during the feasibility study.

Did you spot a misplaced wall?

Then it’s simply a matter of clicking directly at the element and leaving a comment.  

The ability to facilitate feedback from users at specific planning milestones or throughout the planning project is a key benefit provided by StreamBIM. Another equally important advantage, is the quality of the feedback.

In a traditional 2D drawing, most people will have a hard time discerning between the various elements. Is that a column or a wastewater pipe? Ventilation shaft or a lift?

It’s much easier to assess something you actually understand. A 3D model can provide valuable insight to almost anyone. StreamBIM makes it possible for users and buyers to direct the design according the their intention.

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Designing an operation room requires close interaction with the users.
They know best what layout works. It’s a great advantage to be able to invite them into the model early.


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Information flow – avoid “email projects”

Building projects = email. Lots of email.

Any given project can involve dozens of participants who each produce updates, questions, requests for drawings, revisions and protocols, and receipts for parking and cinnamon buns. Moreover, remote stakeholders are indiscriminately CC’d into these email threads.

In StreamBIM, the information flows in one channel. Plus, data and related commentary can be embedded into the relevant location. Got something important to say about the sink in room 302? Well, then you simply navigate to room 302 and write what’s on your mind. Proceed to tag whomever will be affected by the information. Any dialogue you’ve been involved in gets logged and can be retrieved via the search option.

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Here, for instance, one could comment:

– Room 302: Sink to be fitted with single handle faucet, no overflow @hvac

The others are of course able to reply in the same thread.

Should it be necessary to amend the model (“the sink is to be relocated to the adjacent wall”) or similar, the plumber can send a direct request to the responsible engineer within the 3D model. It’s then simply a matter of modifying the model and updating the central file – and zing! – the updated model replaces the previous version. No paper drawings needed.

Paper drawings

Paper drawings will be largely superfluous in a StreamBIM project. Why print countless revisions of 2D plans and sections when the updated model is always available to everyone? Those who need a particular view can simply navigate directly to the location in the model.

StreamBIM changes the building designer role. Historically, hours and hours of valuable time has been spent producing drawings. Not only for the construction site, but for quality control and collision control. In a full-blooded BIM chain, designers can concentrate on producing the best model possible. That, of course, rubs off on the finished building.

The design phase continues when construction has begun. There’s bound to be a lot of back-and-forth. It’s extremely beneficial to be able to communicate with the construction site in an up-to-date model.

It halts the time wasted by making communications between the office and the construction site immediate and accurate.

Construction: Information is the main ingredient

StreamBIM shines its brightest light in the construction phase. It excels at the following four areas:

  • Orientating and location pinning
  • Measuring
  • Communication
  • Documenting

Orientating – from push to pull

StreamBIM makes it easy to navigate within the model – right where you are. If you know how to pinch and zoom in a photo or can find your way with Google Maps, you’ll breeze through StreamBIM.

In the old workflow, builders were handed (pushed) drawings from the designers. Those drawings were annotated with descriptions, measurements, symbols and colored lines. The material was provided in accordance with what the designers deemed relevant.

With StreamBIM, the builders – based on their own perspective – can pull out whatever data they need directly from the model.

Due to the fact that StreamBIM maintains an up-to-date environment, no one is realising outdated revisions.

The measurement tool you’ve dreamt of

StreamBIM offers a powerful measurement tool. It allows you to define a selection of coordinates in the model, forming a section whose depth can be adjusted steplessly. In an instant, a interdisciplinary view is generated directly from the model. (Sub)disciplines can be turned off with a click until you’re left with the objects you wish to include in your measurement. The tool was made for the construction site, and can even be used while wearing gloves.  

You produce your own set of the necessary “measured drawings” directly from the model. Additional measurements can be added continuously. StreamBIM automatically detects the diameter and the centre if the measurement “laser” is aimed at ducts or pipes.

So – can you build without drawings? Sure thing!

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Communication

Effective communication between stakeholders has never been easier than in StreamBIM. The model becomes a three-dimensional message board, as those involved can write and reply directly onto the building part in question. It’s a bit like walking around in a house, sticking post-it notes on the walls, except StreamBIM allows you to tag the project users who should be notified. Replying is just as easy.

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A misplaced elbow switch smoothly dealt with inside the StreamBIM environment.

Documenting

Complaints and building projects go together like horse and carriage. According to Statistics Norway, construction mistakes cost Norwegian society almost $ 2 billion annually.  Building mistakes are costly throughout the world. Many of the complaints are rooted in complex issues. One of the most important capabilities StreamBIM brings to the table is ease of documenting during construction.

Have you laid down the pipes for the floor heating? Document the pressure test by photographing the manometer. Photograph the loop prior to pouring the concrete. Or, when you have completed the electrical work, take a photo before you close up the wall.

When you do these things in StreamBIM, all the documentation gets embedded to the corresponding spot, making it easily retrievable.

“This is how room 557 looked when I was done.”

This ability to document work on the spot and directly in the model adds up to a dramatic reduction in time spent filling out forms and checklists like we used to do. And in the event of a complaint or operational issue which necessitates finding a photo or document, the time savings can be a multiple of ten compared to the conventional practice. With StreamBIM, the documentation is always right there in your pocket.

Operations – the real world

Wouldn’t it be great to know the exact location of a shutoff valve that’s above the ceiling without butting your head against 30 ceiling squares with a flashlight in your mouth? Imagine being able to upload a photo of a new wall directly to the model, and not having to send paper drawings to an engineer who will revise the drawing – when she gets around to it some time in September?  

A nice side-effect of documenting one’s own work during the construction stage is that the photos can be carried over to the operational stage. If the builders, foremen, and managers have documented their progress systematically, chances are good that whatever is concealed by the ceiling will be readily available as photos within StreamBIM.

Day-to-day operations

In StreamBIM, builders can document technical installations and place the documents at the corresponding location inside the 3D model. When done right, an operations engineer will be able to search his or her way to the room where the equipment is installed. Alternatively, the component itself can be found in a search using the applicable code system.

If you have structured your data throughout the process, ID-tagging objects, you can plug your operations- and maintenance system directly into StreamBIM. Click on an object, review documentation, create work orders (linked to the right ID) and connect the new product. Documentation and necessary data are available exactly where they’re of use.

Without lifting a single ceiling square, the operations engineer can see what’s normally hidden – without browsing through hundreds of pages in a folder or a half-heartedly maintained project file.

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Modifications

At handover, the owner receives documentation in the form of as-built drawings. These can be relatively accurate as they’re being submitted, but in many cases rework commences almost instantly. It’s not unusual for as-built documentation to lose relevance over time; many buildings are continuously adapted to new demands. Paper drawings grow outdated on account of their static nature.  

The same will happen to models that are being handed over, unless they’re kept up-to-date. In order to succeed with that, the models need to become integrated into day-to-day operations. StreamBIM allows you to do exactly that by using the model actively throughout the entire life cycle of the building. Deviations between the physical as-is and the as-built model can be easily identified. They can then be connected to the right place and object and corrected immediately – even if the person responsible for updating the model is located far away.

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