Optimized BIM workflows put architects in the driving seat

The geometry- and information-checking tools we’ve built into Solibri Inside create smoother workflows right from the start of any BIM project. Architects using the software are playing a pivotal role in moving the construction industry towards better quality control.

When BIM workflows are efficient, it can be expected that the overall outcome of a construction project is of a higher quality.

Well-structured workflows promote collaboration between multidisciplinary teams, streamline data exchange, and reduce errors in the design process. Responsibilities are clearly defined and tasks can be allocated without any ambiguity.

From the perspective of the BIM modeler or architect, efficient workflows facilitate the timely delivery of the information needed to create and amend the design. These roles are critical in keeping the project moving, so it’s in everyone’s best interests that BIM workflows are optimized from the beginning of a project.

In earlier articles about Solibri Inside, we looked at how the software’s built-in rule types and predefined checks – for both geometric checking and information checking – are helping BIM architects design better models.

The workflow rules we’ve built into these checking tools enable BIM requirements to be integrated into the quality-assurance process from the outset. An architect can create custom checks for specific BIM requirements and make these checks available for the whole team to use.

As this capability is part of the Solibri Inside package – which works as a plug-in to Archicad, Allplan and Vectorworks – there’s no need to deal with file imports and exports, compatibility issues, or learning a new tool. No expert skills are required. You can just start checking your model immediately in the software of your choice.

We’re also improving workflows through Solibri Inside by helping BIM modelers to learn from any errors. Descriptions are automatically added that indicate the possible causes of miscalculation.

Thanks to Solibri Inside’s workflows, architects can improve the quality of their models as they design. This reduces the number of review iterations and helps to ensure that customers’ BIM requirements are met. Improved workflows mean faster review cycles, higher confidence in one’s work, and cost savings due to reductions in the amount of rework.

Front-loading BIM accuracy checks

We also have a workflow vision for Solibri Inside that’s aimed at moving our entire industry towards smoother collaboration and higher BIM accuracy.

Let’s illustrate this through the example of a BIM architect modeling the electricity outlets in a new building.

A traditional workflow would be for an architect to receive the information that a given number of outlets are required per room. The architect then models the right number of outlets, positioning them based on previous experience and taking any other constraints into consideration (such as ensuring the outlets are not covered by open doors).

The next step is for the BIM coordinator to review the model with the building owner. At this point – in a sub-optimal scenario – the building owner may inform the BIM coordinator that the electricity outlets do not meet requirements, either because they are too close together, too far apart, or obstructed in some way. The BIM coordinator then informs the BIM architect so that the change can be made in the model.

In a worst-case scenario, this may mean a lack of compliance with the local building code. This can create a whole host of problems, including delays and cost overruns.

Our vision for Solibri Inside is to front-load quality assurance through workflows that are designed to prevent the afore-mentioned scenario. The software has the capability to express specific guidelines for the BIM architect or anyone else involved in the project, so that workflows become much more efficient.

In terms of workflow evolution within Solibri Inside, we envision a scenario whereby the BIM architect carries out quality control independently during the design and planning processes. Self checking tools enable the architect to always deliver a model of the best possible quality, thus saving project time by reducing the usual back-and-forth communication with the BIM coordinator.

Smoother workflows, higher quality outcomes

This vision is not as radical as it may initially sound.

In the traditional workflow scenario, BIM architects may meet with a construction project owner once a week or so. They look at the model together, discuss any changes that need to be made, and the BIM architect makes those amendments before the next meeting.

What we’re proposing with Solibri Inside is to essentially add a checkbox for the BIM architect to cross reference against before such reviews. In the best case there are no changes to discuss at all, as the architect has already corrected everything.

In this way, an improved workflow makes the whole process smoother, faster and of better quality overall. Architects who can consistently show that requirements have been met gain a reputation for quality, which can translate into repeat work.

Our vision for Solibri Inside is to identify errors much earlier in the BIM design process than enabled by traditional workflow and to correct these errors as they arise. It’s all about making that digital twin as close to reality as possible. That’s our goal.

So what comes next?

We are currently studying the behavior of Solibri Inside users to see what rules architects are commonly configuring. These configurations differ between use cases and regions, but commonalities emerge that we can then act upon in developing appropriate localized workflows for Solibri Inside.