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Virtual to Reality: BIM to Built

Today when you look at the business of “getting buildings built,” so much technology is focused on the virtual side of the process, that it almost seems software companies have forgotten that at some point, you have to put an actual “hammer to a nail” to get a building built. We see a lot of cool technology coming that shows 3D printed buildings, drones stacking bricks, and robots that can do just about everything.

The question many of us ask, but very little technology addresses, is how does a virtual building get translated into the real thing? About 10 years ago I started asking this question myself, and was amazed that with all the advancement we had made on the design side, very little was being done to translate that advancement to the construction side.

Fast forward to today. I am now at Faith Technologies, and one of our top priorities is to take the virtual building model and automate the process of documentation and fabrication. This concept is not new, but it has been a very complicated process in the past.

Here at Faith, it is primarily about connecting our in-house fabrication group (Excellerate) to as much of the preconstruction process as possible. One of the tools we are using to help support this effort is Dynamo. In Dynamo, we can quickly build workflows of how we want data to be delivered to Excellerate, and then use it to automate the process. In most cases, this is in the form of documentation and order processing, but we are also beginning to look at computer-controlled equipment that will allow us to pass tasks directly from our models to the fabrication equipment, bypassing the need for documentation altogether.

For me, making the move to the construction side of the process has been an interesting change. Finding an organization that is embracing technology and looking for ways to integrate processes with technology was the key. If you like change, this is an exhilarating time to be in the business of “building buildings.” We are on the cusp of connecting building information modeling (BIM) to built, and virtual to reality.

The excitement and challenge of each day makes me feel like I am in my twenties again. I encourage everyone to embrace the change, and let’s connect “BIM to built” today!