Blue Thorn Technology
Unit A1 | The Icehouse | 180-182 Fazeley Street | Birmingham | B5 5SE
Client Login

The Blue Thorn BIM Method



The Blue Thorn BIM Method

At the outset let us state that we are not opposed to the concept of Revit, in fact we have gained wide experience of creating families, generating and downloading data for those families and modelling in Revit.

The fact remains that AutoCAD based modelling products are extremely accurate, very efficient, proven to consistently deliver the final product and are in wide use today having already been bought and paid for by most companies.

Our method also offers the most pragmatic solution to real-life projects in that it is driven from the schedules, not the graphical model. Our data families exist with all data required for any particular object but all of this data is linked back to the schedules used on the job. The graphical models are then referenced to check the actual equipment being shown is correct.

We have always undertaken 3D modelling and clash detection and we have a system for allocation of hyperlinks retrospectively to CAD objects. The following simply looks in more detail at the data gathering and management systems we use for BIM.

1. Create Family And Add Data To Family

Data fields are allocated to an equipment type e.g. fan coil unit, fan or pump. Each family is then allocated to an equipment type. This ensures that all similar piece of equipment has identical data fields so, for example, an Ability FCU will have exactly the same field allocation as a Diffusion FCU.

Some of the data fields will be allocated against the family set, such as Manufacturer and Model Range, others will be allocated against the items within the family, such as Size or Spigot Number. This information is very quick to input and allows the data to be available for a project without having to also model the linked graphical block


2. Create Schedules

The fundamental principle of BIM is to manage the project data correctly. It is not necessary to acquire more data than any traditional project but the management of this data is what creates a truly 'BIM' project. Schedules and technical submissions are a case in point, the information is normally all stored in a directory in a variety of pdf, Excel spread sheets, CAD drawings and Word documents. All data is present in the documents but managed. Our first task on a BIM project is to collate the schedules and tech sub data into one data base.

The project is allocated project specific fields that it will allow for download, then each schedule is allocated a proportion or all of these fields. Typically these fields may be space (location), required duty. Basically any information that can only be determined when the final unit is in use (ll other information is stored with the family)

3. Create Required Schedule

The next step is to populate the schedules. The Tag number is entered first and the project specific fields can be filled in. At this stage the system can produce data detailing the project specific fields and schedule this was downloaded from. It cannot yet produce any more data as the specific item has not been defined for the reference tag.

This is easily done. There is a 'treeview' area which contains the names of all of the families and all of the items within those families. We simply enter the 'Model Name' field and click on the item that is to be used. The system can then automatically collect all the require information about this family and item

We also rate the status of the schedule into one of the five following categories

   a) Design Schedule - The original consultant's design schedule

   b) Contractor Schedule - The initial contractor proposed schedule

   c) Technical Submission - Unapproved

   d) Technical Submission - Approved

   e) As Fitted Schedule

The final output will colour code which status any item's schedule is at so it is immediately apparent how far along the procurement process any item is

4. Downloading Drawing Data

We are now in a position where we can download data for every scheduled item on the job and have nearly reached our goal. The outstanding matter is determining what we have in our shown in our model is correct.

This is done easily enough. When any model is open the user types one command and the information concerning all referenced items in that model is downloaded to the defined project database. This downloads the data for the reference tag, the block name/ CADDuct filename, the handle, the model it is contained in and it's X, Y & Z position.

Each family item is allocated a block name (in stage 1) and the system identifies what is used in the model and compares it against what should have been used according to the schedule. It then graphically informs the operator of any anomalies.

The snapshot above shows the schedule entry from after drawing data has been downloaded. Everything highlighted in green is correct, cyan shows when the referenced item is present but the block used is incorrect and the white background shows omissions, where the tag reference is not represented by any model object.

We have found that this not only highlights anomalies in the model, but also catches problems in the schedules and tech subs as well.

5. Show Excel Downloads

Finally all of this data can be downloaded in Excel form (as per the COBie drops) or in more data friendly forms to be passed on to FM companies for linking to their systems.

All data for components on the project is now available in standard data fields for sharing with anyone on the project.

The information is colour coded to show which references are missing from the graphical model, which references are present but incorrect in the graphical model and which references are represented more than once in the graphical model.

The colour coding also shows what stage the procurement is at. In the snapshot below the sandy colour represents items that are still only represented in the consultants schedules. The cyan indicates an approved tech sub. In standard practice data drops are done when all of the items are at the same stage of procurement. This does not represent 'real-world' situation where different items of equipment may be at very different stages of procurement. This data drop gets around this issue.

See 'Sample-Datadrop' Download for example of full spread sheet.