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Monday, October 25, 2010

On the Road with Fellow Reprographers (Part 1) BIM

Over the last month and a half I have been traveling to a variety of regions in North America, visiting with reprographers and learning about their challenges and what they are doing to position their companies for the future.

In my next few articles in “Point of View” I will be sharing some of my observations and experiences from these trips along with some updates on what the PEiR Group will be doing to help our members develop strategies to grow their businesses.

In late September I went to San Diego to attend the (WRA) Western Reprographics Association annual convention. The attendance was light but the networking opportunities were great and some of educational sessions were extremely interesting.

One educational session I found most enlightening was a presentation on BIM (building information modeling) from Chuck Goodman from iPda (integrated Process design associates). Chuck’s company, iPda, is a design firm that has been working with BIM for several years and has developed a BIM solution that helps owners, AEC firms and others; leverage the technologies and processes used with BIM. iPda helps project stakeholders strategize on how to implement BIM so that the benefits of BIM can be maximized in all stages of a project’s lifecycle (design, bid, build and operate).

Today many in our industry think that software tools like Revit, Bentley Microstation or Graphisoft are BIM but in reality they are just that, tools.

When implemented properly, BIM can save owners millions. BIM helps design and construction companies build a project virtually which allows project team members to do a variety of “what if’s” before a single hole is dug in the ground; eliminating change orders, reducing inventory and material costs, conducting water and electrical cost analysis, scheduling labor more accurately and a whole lot more. A few of the biggest issues that many who want to embrace BIM are struggling with are:
  • Knowledgeable personnel capable of understanding and implementing BIM.
  • Multiple tools are used to develop BIM projects and there is a technological challenge of making these various tools all work in one model. i\If BIM is to become truly effective there is a necessity for the software tools to interoperate.  That means that the BIM model needs to be accessed and  updated by multiple disciplines regardless of the software manufacture (Autodesk, Bentley, Graphicsoft) .
  • BIM Models are huge and to be effective they need to have the abilitiy for all team members to access the model, so it can be kept up to date with all pertinent data.  
Possible Solutions

BIM Knowledge Transfer and Technology Outsourcing Services 

Companies like iPda offer expertise and outsourcing of personnel to help owners, designers and contractors ramp up and implement BIM. As reprographers we need to position ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities to team with companies like iPda to market their services to our own clients; TOS (Technology Outsourcing Services).


To address the need for multiple team members to update the BIM model with various preferred software tools, a new file format has been developed, its called IFC.  The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data model is a neutral and open specification that is not controlled by a single vendor or group of vendors. It is an object oriented file format with a data model developed by buildingSMART - an international alliance of built environment sector professionals, contractors, suppliers and client groups who promote the benefits of interoperability and open standards for information sharing in the building industry, and is a commonly used format for Building Information Modeling (BIM). The IFC model specification (ISO-PAS 16739) is available at

BIM Servers

BIM models are huge and multiple team members need to securely access, add, change and delete sections of the model as needed. In the not too distant future there will be a need for a provider to host and manage BIM models in the Cloud. As an industry reprographers are perfectly positioned to offer BIM Hosting Services but, it will require us to understand BIM and the technologies required to support this initiative and, how do we can charge for these services.

I will continue to add more about my travels so please check back on a regular basis.

Sincerely, Shaun Meany

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