“We must have built one of these before.”
“Who overwrote my file?”
“These objects don’t even meet BIM standards.”
As buildings become more complex and BIM transforms demands, construction projects can now involve as many as 100,000 files.
What does that mean for the average designer or engineer? A lot of time and energy spent searching for constructible content. Multiply those few hours each week by several users and the number of projects worked on each year and it adds up to one thing — a big loss in productivity.
Use these 5 tips to improve how you create and manage content, and to get thinking about the importance of good content in enhancing the value of your 3D models in the BIM and ordering processes.
1. Get a system
As pointed out in this article on ArchSmarter, there are some tried-and-true ways to keep your content organized:
- Simplest approach: Keep content sorted with a robust folder structure. The more granular the folders, the easier it is to pinpoint specific families. Be wary of using too many folders, as they can make “finding the right family like searching through a haystack.”
- Using templates: Load commonly used families into a template file. Balance the number of families included in the template with overall file size. If you load in too many families, you will end up with unmanageable project files that are prone to errors. Hybrid: Use spreadsheets to batch load families. While it’s time-consuming to create the family sets on the front end, it will be worth it when you can “load tens or hundreds of families with a single click.”
2. Standardize your family files
You’ll either be using out-of-the box content, downloading it from a library or manufacturer’s site, or creating your own. In each chase, you should name or rename the family in a way that identifies where it came from makes it easy to locate in your family browser.
Make sure your naming convention is clear and easy to understand. If it requires a cheat sheet or a committee to make sense of it, guess what? You’ll be answering the same questions over and over again or worse, other users will just ignore it and make up their own instead. Even if your naming structure makes sense to you, run it by a few co-workers before you implement it.
More standardization best practices:
- Use a prefix or identifier for your company for families created by you or your firm, so they can easily sort in the family browser
- Project specific families should have a project prefix
- Add the LOD to the family name as a suffix for easier auditing, switching of higher and lower LOD families as needed, and to broadcast to the user how much detail they can expect in the family
>> Don’t forget to consider: How will you update your content with each new release of your modeling software? Whether you create separate folders for each upgrade version, or use a single library and add new files for the different versions, things could get real hairy real quick.
3. Don’t be a pack rat
When you’re working in your model, it’s fine to keep a small collection of items you will use in the future. Storing every component you loaded just in case you might need it is not. This will slow down your system to a frustrating pace. If a component you need accidentally gets purged, you can always load it back in.
4. Break bad habits
One of the biggest problems when working with content is that both individuals and entire teams go back to old projects and carry forward mistakes to new designs. Make sure to create a formal process for going back to correct or flag objects or components that have caused problems further downstream. That way you can ensure only the right content is available for your next project, eliminating rework, delays, and other poor outcomes.
5. Just get someone else to do it
There is a best way to create and manage your content: Have someone else do it for you! It’s incredibly easy for teams that spend time searching for and updating their own manufacturer content to miss product updates. Most manufacturers don’t send notifications when updates are made — meaning your entire building model could be thrown off, even if just one type of component was updated without your knowledge.
There are more time-saving, headache-stopping benefits to using a managed content provider:
- Easily find the content you need with advanced filtering, sorting, and tagging
- Making data accessible across teams and applications removes silos and makes real-time collaboration possible
- Having the most accurate, detailed information available allows for digital-twin builds and the reduction of risk further throughout the project
- Preview the family before you load it saves time
- Help your team maintain the quality and usefulness of your content over the long term
There’s no getting around it: BIM models today require content. Lots and lots of content. Yet budgets and deadlines have rarely kept pace. It’s time to manage your content in smarter and more efficient ways.
Read more about Trimble’s managed content offering, and how Constructible Content can improve the workflows of designers, detailers, engineers, manufacturers, and estimators.