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BIM To Built: Model To Manufacture

In the construction industry over the years, we have heard terms like design model, construction model, design intent drawings and constructability drawings. For the most part, these terms all revolve around the difference between what the design team vs. the construction team calls a model and documentation. The introduction of BIM envisioned that one model would be created and handed off to the different players so they could add to the object data as needed. Unfortunately, due to the complexity and needs of the various players in the process, this concept never made it to reality. There is also the issue of taking BIM to built, which I addressed in a previous blog post.

Today, we may have the same object represented in two, three, or four different models with no real single source of truth. Adding to this complexity is the newest idea of Model to Manufacture. At first glance this sounds like yet another layer of models, but if you look closely at this new technology, you will see that it is not only different, but can also help reduce the challenges of other models.

At the heart of this strategy for Autodesk® is a new platform called Forge®. Typically, Forge is thought of as a programming tool, but in reality, this platform provides a bridge between different model-authoring tools, as well as data-reporting tools. The key to understanding this is to know that Revit® is actually a database software with a compelling graphical interface driving it. If you want to take a family from Revit and use it as the starting point for a manufacturing model in Fusion 360®, Forge can provide that bridge programmatically with no redrawing. If you want a web tool that will allow you to pick from a list of options to determine a specific configuration of an object, Forge can be used to create the configurator and then push that newly-configured object into Revit, Fusion 360 or another authoring technology. This concept of bridging between authoring tools provides a path for the design model to become the construction model that is used to drive the manufacturing model.

Here at Faith Technologies, we are fortunate to have manufacturing capabilities in house, which lets us build our Revit models with manufacturing and installation in mind. To do this successfully, we have invested not only in technology, but also in our people. Today, more than 90 percent of our modelers are electricians who came directly from the field. This is critical to our success, because these modelers know how to build the things they model. This means our models are incredibly accurate, and our manufacturing documentation can be pulled directly from the model.

This jumpstart on the Model-to-Manufacture concepts of tomorrow also provides an alternate carrier path for electricians other than field work. While it is relatively easy to teach someone to model something using Revit, it is nearly impossible to teach someone 15 years of field experience.

In many ways, our ability to advance in the Model-to-Manufacture concept is as much about the people as it is about the tools we use. We will continue using Forge to help us with the next generation of tools connecting design models to our manufacturing models, but it will be our rapidly expanding team of field-experienced modelers who will take us to the next level.