Wednesday, March 06, 2013

CAD is not BIM

I guess when somebody spins a comment that I am “raw”, I feel I at least need to defend my comment piece as I don’t personally think I am “Guileless”, but everybody is entitled to their point of view.

The comment relates to Martyn Days recent article in AEC magazine that CAD is not BIM.

My view is that in many cases “some” CAD managers should not be managing BIM still standards true. It’s not that the CAD manager is not capable; I suspect there are many which with the right skills & knowledge of design, data structures & building assembly can certainly do a superb job. BTW I’m not out here to make enemies. As noted by a response to this article by Nigel Davis, the reality is its semantics. I would totally agree with that.

The term BIM has been overhyped over used to spin business & I know for a fact there are plenty of businesses who talk about doing “BIM”, but the reality is they are just using their latest & greatest tools to do smarter, more efficient documentation. This is great. I don’t have issues with that, as this is genuine progression. Utilising the benefits of technology for a more streamlined production process is something I believe is really important. I have even said in the past, if you had a very smart lean process, you can do a BIM enabled process with CAD if you are prepared to customize the crap out of it. Today’s smart technology tools for delivering “model based design” are there to reduce the pain in the process, yet they also open up other issues. By no means are they perfect, but they work well and as Nigel suggests in his comment, they deliver quality output, so the term CAD or BIM, then becomes semantics.

The point I was making & which Nigel suggests that maybe I was being Guileless, is that the demands of BIM or what we are being told about BIM are different. I certainly believe the depth of knowledge & research which is required for you to become a successful “BIM” manager is far greater than if you were a successful CAD manager. That’s not to say, you couldn’t learn this stuff, you certainly can. But my point is that from my experience & what I have seen in the industry, many firms who have employed a CAD manager require the said person to manage that, just computer aided design “stuff”. This typically means dealing with support, maintenance of the system, successful deployment, training & standards. I don’t doubt there are firms whose CAD manager does way more than just that. All these points are equally relevant to BIM, but with one big difference. When I started as a CAD manager, I could manage & develop standards, layer names, smart systems for naming layers, work on projects, research technology to improve the process etc., but suddenly the demands have shifted. The new generation of manager is expected to understand a BXP, LOD, PAS, IFC, BIM standards, open standards, cobie, legal implications of delivery all this other stuff which is being pushed in our face by the BIM bandwagon. How much of this is actually relevant to what we do is open for debate, you don’t need to know it intimately, but I would suggest you need to at least have an understanding of it. Let me give you an example. When I was at a large firm (you know who they are), we would receive all sorts of PQP for projects which often had a BIM component. Many of these BIM requirements were actually laughable. “You shall hand over an as-built model totally clash free & shall deliver based on Level 5 BIM!” Total garbage! The point I am making is whether its BIM or CAD, I actually don’t give a stuff about the acronym. The point is that the go to person in any firm, must have a broader understanding of what is happening in the industry to filter all this BIM debris which is thrown at the AEC industry. Which is why I make the comment that I don’t necessarily believe a traditional CAD manager should be managing BIM within the business. SO, call me naïve if you want, but having been at the coal face within an organisation, I would suggest the knowledge required is slightly different & somewhat deeper. Even if at the end of the day the title CAD or BIM should or shouldn’t remain the same, the knowledge required is different. You only need to see this by the job description & requirements that many firms require for their BIM leaders here in the UK & globally. Whether you believe the industry has it right or wrong, only time will tell if I am personally right or I am barking up the wrong tree.


Phil Read said...

2D CAD is about maintaining graphic standards whilst BIM is about creating an intentional model sufficient for coordination, fabrication, construction. Managing how something looks vs how something needs to behave is really two different things. CAD managers (IME) don't understand analytic requirements - which is central to using BIM correctly. The BIM model can't simply look correct - it needs to behave correctly and flex with regard to requirements and design changes. Any CAD Manager useful as a BIM Manager already left CAD behind a decade ago. Newcomers need not apply.

Scott Chatterton said...

What I have found as BIM Manager is I now have more to do with collaboration with consultants and clients rather than the set up and operation of Revit. My Revit users know what they're doing, I'm more involved with the managing of the project rather than the management of the software.

Dont get me wrong, I still set up BIM standards, educate, and develop processes as well as evaluate BIM related software, but my role and duties are no longer confined to the operation and maintenance of the software as it once was as a CAD Manager. As a BIM Manager it's now more project related as well as managing and informing the company as a whole on BIM related issues.

The CAD Manager is Dead... Long live the BIM Manager.

Dave Baldacchino said...

Well said you awesome, deLIGHTful David :)

RevitRandomiser said...

Could not agree more Dave.

Unknown said...

I have over 30 years supporting Engineering Technologies across multiple industries.

Let me start with the terminology basics: CADD = Computer Aided Design and Drafting. BIM = Building Information Model. BIM is a buzz word that the sales industry has been feeding the facilities construction industry for the past 10 years. The industries have been arguing for the past 5 years about what BIM really means. They still haven’t decided on a standard naming convention for identifying the parts of the building although usually the biggest user wins. A database weather an internal or external database engine for generating specification data tied to the graphics have been around since the dawn of cad. The process and manufacture industries have been way ahead of facilities construction with the use of 3d construction methodologies for coordinating construction details and assemblies. The primary reason that “BIM” has taken off the past 5 years is because GC’s and Facility Owners have finally come to understand they can save millions by virtually building and coordinating prior to erecting the facility paying out those millions in change orders. Aside from sales industry changing it’s focus from CAD verticals to BIM verticals, developers have not created anything smarter. In fact they giving less and charging more. In the AEC business, there is not much difference from a Project CAD Coordinator and a BIM Coordinator both have the responsibility of coordinating the Design. In the Construction business the roles slightly differ due to the use of real parts for fabrication and shop models. As for the difference between a CAD Manager and a BIM Manager, it really depends on the individual and their background. Both Titles should easily be able to manage the technologies and the standards used without much different between them. The roles will depend on the type of industry and the organizational workflow. Any organization looking for a BIM Manager should not overlook a CAD Manager just because that is the title on the resume. A good PDS Administrator can take your existing database and redefine your specifications using an index tag saving, you months of work building parts. Be sure to evaluate the background, when filtering resumes, or else you might just miss out on a that key core person to help streamline the production in your organization.