PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
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How to Expand BIM From the Office Into the Field [ebook]

Many people in the construction industry think exclusively of 3D modeling when they hear “building information modeling,” better known as BIM. However, this kind of data management system goes far beyond creating and organizing graphical data. Other types of data are also included and managed from within the same software tools, creating a management system that is just as useful in the field as it is in the office.

Need more background information on building information modeling before deciding if it is right for your company? Explore the benefits of BIM and the best practices for use in the field by reading our free ebook, “How to Successfully Leverage BIM in the Field.”

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Looking for a sneak peek of the contents of the ebook? Read below to see our tips to help with the transition for construction firms that are already using BIM in the office but haven’t pushed it out to their field teams.

Train as Many Employees as Possible

BIM is often leveraged as a tool to help combat the skilled labor shortage in many global construction markets, as reported by 25% of companies surveyed by the Associated General Contractors of America. Yet BIM is only effective when everyone on the jobsite knows how to use the technology properly. Without training, even engineers and designers often miss out on crucial features that speed up the work process while reducing errors. Train as many departments of the construction firm as possible to use the BIM systems to speed up collaboration and communication between separate teams.

Increase App Integrations

With any BIM offering, there’s still often a need for secondary apps to handle specific processes and tasks. Finding BIM software that offers the right integrations out of the box ensures that your tools are working together seamlessly, rather than creating more work to move data between tools manually. Native integrations reduce tasks that waste hours of time. A robust system of integrated apps allows every worker in the field to access the data they need, regardless of the devices they’re using.

Look for Offline Support

One of the main benefits of a complete BIM system is constantly syncing to keep everyone updated on the latest changes to models, drawings and construction data. However, the field doesn’t always offer the same steady connection opportunities as the home office. To take full advantage of BIM, look for apps and software that offer offline capabilities rather than blocking users from accessing the data. Offline access allows your field workers to keep on task and maintain the same productivity even when they lose connectivity.

Connect to the Home Office

Field focused BIM solutions shouldn’t take the form of standalone apps and installations. The BIM tools used by workers and managers in the field should be integrated with the software and services used by the home office. Part of the power of a BIM solution lies in constant connectivity and collaboration, not just during scheduled meetings. A company that ends up using two or more separate systems will only find workloads increasing, not decreasing.

Combine Data Sources

Some of the dissatisfaction reported from construction companies that have tried a BIM system comes from a lack of commitment. These systems function best when they contain or connect to as much data as possible about a construction project. When limiting BIM use strictly to 3D modeling or 2D drawing, the models available may not be terribly useful due to the lack of connected and integrated data. The most powerful use of BIM comes from attaching as much data as possible to the models.

Create a Security Policy

As with all forms of construction technology, BIM requires a robust internal security policy. Controlling access to the data stored inside the system becomes more challenging when you expand its use into the field due to the increased potential for lost or damaged devices. Combine that with safety requirements like the PAS 1192-5 specifications for modeling software in the UK and there’s a definite need for greater IT support when increasing usage of BIM. Make sure the firm’s IT department is up to the challenge of managing a field team of BIM users before jumping headfirst into expansion.

Setting Up BIM for Success

BIM works incredibly well to improve productivity in the field, but only after a successful adoption. If you need to know more before expanding BIM into the field, download our free ebook on leveraging this powerful construction management system.

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Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas is a Content Marketing Manager at PlanGrid. He develops PlanGrid’s content strategy and creates assets to educate their customers based on his experience working at Gilbane Building Co. and Truebeck Construction. He has more than six years of marketing experience and a Bachelor's Degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University.

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