The Site Manager of the Virtual Model

”Predict 1:1 How the Process Will Work on the Construction Site”

Improved cooperation and project communication in all phases of planning with model-oriented project processing. Animation: Martin Taurer.

Simulating the Construction Process on the PC

Anton Gasteiger sees himself as a pioneer of new work processes in construction engineering. In 2010, he achieved a vision by founding b.i.m.m. GmbH together with the architect and engineer Martin Taurer and software specialists Jochen Reichert and Shenqiang Wu. The company name b.i.m.m. stands for building information model management, i.e. the management of building information using a three-dimensional model. The challenge for these international experts is the efficient networking of all stakeholders in the planning stage of a construction project – be they designers or structural or mechanical engineers. According to founder Anton Gasteiger, this entails providing everyone involved in the planning stage, i.e. architects or engineers, with the information they need on any construction component, for instance a supporting member. ”This is done with the three-dimensional model”, he adds. Wherever they are located, companies involved in a project are to be given easy access to the information via the world wide web.

”Each planner or specialist planner has access to the information decisive for his concerns on each construction element.” Engineer and architect Anton Gasteiger

The international team of specialists working for the Kufstein-based b.i.m.m. GmbH is propagating improved cooperation and communication of everyone involved in the planning stage in all phases. In the model, quantities and all components of a project are displayed in three dimensions. The model-based quantity takeoff paves the way for transparent cost information via a detailed list of work including all price data. Beyond this, the model also contains information on construction time. ”The aim is to avoid delays in the construction schedule right from the beginning”, comments Anton Gasteiger. Using the model, the entire construction process can be simulated on the PC. And Anton Gasteiger, founder of the AGA-BAU GmbH company in Tirol, is convinced that the PC can be an indispensable tool for efficient processes on a real construction site, too. Most importantly, it allows risks to be detected even before they arise. He is certainly not short of practical experience in this field. 

Virtual Reality as a Preliminary Stage

To date, AGA-BAU has completed roughly 400 projects. For about four years, they have all been realised using the new b.i.m.m. work method – not only in Austria. All the projects are planned virtually on a computer first as prototypes.

The Kufstein engineer and architect was successfully working on 3D design as early as the end of the eighties. The service portfolio of the AGA-BAU GmbH already covered joinery calculations for roofs, all of which Gasteiger designed on the computer as 3D models, including all joints and special designs along with the structural analysis, lists, etc., and then calculated. 

Modell: b.i.m.m. GmbH. b.i.m.m. GmbH from Kufstein, Tyrol (Austria) sees its role both as general planner as well as ”support provider” in introducing BIM in the planning process. About ten to 20 per cent of the overall planning costs on average can already be saved with a model-based work method. If one in addition considers the savings on the part of the construction company and conducts comprehensive controlling, overall cost savings of up to 30 per cent are also possible.

Integrated Solutions

Nowadays, of course, software technology has reached the level of sophistication required for the comprehensive method that b.i.m.m. intends to implement. Besides standard Autodesk software such as Autodesk REVIT Architecture for the architectural design, Autodesk REVIT Structure for the structural engineering and Autodesk REVIT MEP for the mechanical engineering, the b.i.m.m. professionals use various developments of their own, the so-called b.i.m.m. tools. The parameter tool enables simultaneous editing of all parameters. A special floor tool produces a realistic view of flooring for an entire storey including all layers, doorsills and masonry niches. The service portolio of b.i.m.m. GmbH also comprises customised software geared to project-specific requirements in order to enable even more efficient use of the systems available on the market - Anton Gasteiger and his constantly growing team at b.i.m.m. rely on integrated solutions to be able to keep optimising the practical relevance of their complete portfolio.

b.i.m.m. GmbH regards itself both as leading company and ”support provider” for the introduction of BIM in the planning process.

iTWO from RIB above all covers the tasks of the company carrying out the construction. Animation: Martin Taurer.

New Basis for Cost Estimation

Unlike several well-established engineering software products in the b.i.m.m. portfolio, iTWO from RIB also covers the construction side of a project. The 3D model, therefore, is primarily intended to help project participants in the construction process itself. Besides the three-dimensional geometry, iTWO comprises resource information, i.e. data on construction materials, machines or construction site workers, time and process components. Its manufacturer, RIB, calls it a 5D construction model. The integration between Autodesk REVIT and iTWO enables the three-dimensional model to be transferred to the RIB solution. This step also includes the checking and editing of all structural components. The objective of b.i.m.m. GmbH is to pass the construction model to the contractors in a form that enables them to realise all kinds of processes of their construction projects, ranging from material ordering to cost control. b.i.m.m. sees itself as so-called site manager of the virtual model with the main task of providing all project participants with the information they need. ”The 5D construction model enables us to predict 1:1 how the process will work on the construction site”, says Gasteiger. On the basis of the tender preparation plans, construction companies can see an exact breakdown of project costs. With this modern method, Anton Gasteiger is able to precisely determine the economic efficiency not only of structural components, but also of materials, such as different grades of concrete. His detailed models also contain the necessary resources, for example cranes and construction machinery. ”Our 5D representation of construction site activity is so transparent that the price calculation for the construction company is realistic”, he continues. ”That means a totally new type of cost estimation basis for the contractor.”

Transparency: Two Sides of a Coin

According to the motto: No construction site is too small and none too large to justify efficient planning, the company also approaches clients on the subject and encourages them to demand it. ”These are the people who are most likely to notice the overall cost benefits, not to mention those of avoided errors”, comments Anton Gasteiger. The engineer is convinced that clients will play a key role in the gradual change in work processes throughout the construction industry. Some of Austria’s construction companies are still reluctant to embrace the new methods. The comprehensive data transparency offered by working with the 5D construction model is a two-sided coin, says the expert. This is due in part to the sensationalist coverage of the subject of data protection by the media. Transparent information processes are usually presented in the clichéd ”Big Brother is Watching You” style. In addition, many of Austria’s construction companies work with country-specific cost estimation and cost management software. Switching to the German RIB system would involve a fundamental change in the initial phase.

On the Way to Cost Reduction

Clients, on the other hand, are extremely keen to increase cost transparency. According to Anton Gasteiger, an average of ten to 20 per cent of total planning costs can already be saved by using a model-based working method. ”If you also look at the savings made by the construction companies and implement end-to-end cost control, you can even attain total savings of thirty per cent, which is what has already been achieved in the automobile and manufacturing industries with the aid of the digital factory”, says Gasteiger. ”Cost changes that have been caused by changes to the plans can be shown the very same day using the model-based method”, Gasteiger reports. For this reason, GmbH is currently concentrating on the client side of the business. ”If clients expect a model-based working method, contractors will have no other option”, the expert is confident. However, because ”The Journey is the Goal” applies to clients just as it does to all other project participants, b.i.m.m. GmbH supports each company for at least six months. This is the only way to ensure long-term success with the new project management methods.

The production of three-dimensional b.i.m.m. models is gradually becoming more and more of an interesting proposition for architects, too, although Gasteiger expects the trend to take a while to catch on completely in this group of professionals.

Virtual Forums

b.i.m.m. GmbH characterises the corporate philosophy of actively supporting Austria’s largest architecture and engineering company – ATP – as well as the country’s smallest lead planning company – AGA- Bau- PLANUNGS GmbH. The company plans to directly provide all companies involved in a project with the 3D models in a virtual forum on the Internet. In future, all parties, Anton Gasteiger says, are to be enabled to process or retrieve all the project information in real time.

5D on the Advance with iTWO

Despite the rather low current prevalence of RIB software systems on the Austrian market, Gasteiger is convinced that iTWO will take the whole country by storm. ”When I heard of the new 5D solution, I knew right away that I wanted to add it to my product portfolio”, he says. ”I have always felt that working with the most modern and innovative IT solutions the market has to offer is a sound basis for success in the construction industry. RIB’s new iTWO software system is definitely in this league. The career I have had so far proves that my intuition was correct”, he concludes.

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