Construction Software Review

Construction Software Review, Duane Craig

A closer look at Solibri Model Checker

As software for BIM (Building Information Modeling) continues to gain prominence as a design and construction tool, it is enticing AEC companies of all sizes to at least become familiar with its promises. But a quick step into the realm of software that empowers BIM can leave one feeling a bit overwhelmed. The offerings are immense and it’s hard to quickly know which AEC players would use which products. This article provides a rundown of three key players -- Solibri, Bentley and Graphisoft -- as well as some insight into what each vendor's software helps the typical user accomplish.



Solibri Model Checker

For anyone in the AEC world who wants to check the accuracy of a 3-D model created in any BIM software package, Solibri Model Checker steps to the plate, said Jonathan Widney, president of Solibri US office.

What Widney is hearing from the field is that simple clash detection is a good beginning, but caution is necessary to make sure models don’t degrade in quality. “Subcontractors have told me that clash detection by itself is an inefficient process because it is encouraging people to make mistakes with the assumption they will just be caught downstream," he said. "What I think we are seeing is the gradual evolution of the modeling environment, where people begin to want better models the first time around.”

According to Widney, in an ideal world the model would be designed to behave in a certain way. If that model represents a building, then information would be included in the model to address not only its components and structure, but also factors such as its environmental impact and its total cost of ownership. This, he said, is where Solibri Model Checker is venturing into the future of BIM.

“When you learn that you can use a quality assurance tool [such as] Solibri to validate the design vs. the intent of the design, then you have a model the contractor can feel comfortable using as a true representation of what is to be built,” said Widney. “So at that point, we are starting to really increase the payback to the stakeholders, since we have proof the model is of a higher quality then what a 2-D document might have been.”

Since models can contain a lot of information, Solibri Model Checker makes it possible to take advantage of that information in some surprising ways. Besides including a model viewer that offers interaction with the model it also has more than 50 templates as part of its “rule set manager.” Each template has variable parameters that can be changed to fit the user’s situation. These variables then become the rules the program uses for a quality check.

For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guideline for wheelchair turning radius is built into Solibri, but if a user wants to increase the figure from 60" to 68" it is easy to change; from there, Widney said, the model will display those places where the radius does not meet the new standard of 68."

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