On Monday this week I posted a workflow discussion on BIM that was prepared by Skyler Thomas who works with Topcon Positioning Systems as the BIM Business Development Manager. This is the second part of the article that focus on BIM Platforms and mobile apps for construction.

OVERVIEW

Now that the model is created, everyone has collaborated to coordinate the model – making sure everything is in the appropriate place – how do we actually use it to build the building?! To me, this is where BIM is fun and powerful.

S0 how is this model shared for everyone’s consumption?

The model can now be used for a multitude of things during the construction phase – field data management (issue tracking, plan viewing), model viewing, model markup, field layout, QAQC, and as-builting… the list goes on. I want to give you several apps that allow you to leverage your BIM in the field and make these activities not only possible but also efficient. Also, the name of each app is hyperlinked for more info + great tutorial videos.

The BIM 360 Platform

BIM 360 Field – Autodesk’s BIM 360 Field is a cloud-based construction field management software for contractors, construction managers, owners, developers, architects, and engineers. BIM 360 Field supports 2D and 3D workflows, streamlines current workflows and processes, and ultimately provides a total mobile solution for the construction industry. Key features include creating and maintaining up-to-date documents in the field; logging, assigning, and tracking issues to completion (while tying them to model components if desired); using checklists to verify, document, and inspect work; asset tracking and using the web to report and distribute any and all information gathered on a daily basis.

Operating System: iOS only + you can also interface w/ data

Cost: Varies based on project size and duration

BIM 360 Glue – I spoke a little about this earlier, but Autodesk’s BIM 360 Glue is a cloud-based tool used to bring project stakeholders – primarily designers, contractors, specialty contractors, and owners – into a shared, centralized 3D model environment. The tool aggregates dozens of model types from various disciplines into a cloud-hosted interface. This shared interface allows project teams to more efficiently collaborate on key preconstruction activities, such as conducting walkthroughs and visualizations, adding markups and saved views, and running clash detection. The model management portion is made easy as BIM 360 Glue aggregates the latest individual model files that make up a project, allowing real-time and the most up-to-date version of the project design.

Operating System: Mix of desktop + iOS only

Cost: Varies based on project size and duration, though the base app is free.

BIM 360 LayoutYou can leverage your BIM or CAD files for construction layout, QAQC, or as-built work. To achieve this workflow, you use a combination of CAD or Revit as the authoring tool, Autodesk Point Layout as the point placement tool, and the cloud (using Glue’s engine). Points are placed on your model, pushed to the cloud, and immediately available on your iPad which serves as your data collector and communicates with the Robotic Total Station. BIM 360 Layout works with Topcon’s LN-100 robot – a self-leveling robot that was built specifically for the vertical construction space). This, in turn, speeds up the current layout, QAQC, or as-built process, reduces errors and rework, thus saving time and money.

Operating System: iOS only

Cost: This is tricky. It appears to be free in the app store, but it is not totally free. You must pay for a Glue subscription to access BIM 360 Layout.

A360 – With A360, you’re able to upload more than 100 different file types (no matter what software you used to create them) for universal viewing – no extra downloads or plug-ins are needed. This is more of a viewing/collaborating tool as opposed to marking-up information and/or performing clash detection.

Operating System: Chrome, Firefox or Safari + iOS only

Cost: Free up to 5GBs +1 project and no team members; $15/month or $120/year for 10 GBs (this is known as A360 Team). Click here for more details.

Not able to invest in the BIM 360 platform for layout? Check out Topcon’s Magnet Construct – an iOS and Android app also built specifically for Topcon’s LN-100. The best part? It’s completely free!

Bluebeam – Bluebeam is a widely used tool in our industry. If you think it’s only a PDF viewer and/or markup tool, you’re mistaken. From RFIs, to submittals, to field-issue tracking, and most commonly known for its document management abilities, Bluebeam is a very powerful tool + price friendly. There’s also the ability to create 3D PDFs that you can navigate through and markup.

Operating System: Check out their compatibility page. This lists all of the plug-ins they also provide to 3rd party softwares.

Cost: Starting at $249 for the basic version. More prices here.

BIManywhereBIManywhere is also a cloud-based tool used to transfer the building information model out to the field. It’s geared to streamline the communication channels between management and field personnel with features like 2D and 3D plan and model alignment, location based issue tracking, 3D object document hyperlinking, measure and markup, etc.

Operating System: iOS only

Cost: $75/month or $750/year per project, per user; $600 for bulk licenses at 10 license minimum per project, per user.

BIMsight – If you’re a Tekla user, BIMsight would make sense for you. BIMsight is a collaboration tool for construction that allows you to combine models, check for conflicts, and communicate issues much like other clash detection/coordination tools. 

Operating Systems: Windows 7 or 8 for tablets, and iOS or Android

Cost: Free, which was surprising – more info on this here.

BIMxBIMx allows 3D models created in ArchiCAD to be easily viewed and navigated. As its website says, BIMx is “the mobile app for exploring BIM on handheld devices.” Although, as I read it, this doesn’t seem to be a viable option for true BIM and MEP coordination… more for show and tell. There are different versions of this app which unlock greater functionality the more you pay.

Operating System – iOS and Android

Cost: BIMx is free; BIMx PRO is $49.99; BIMx Model Sharing is $49.99. More info here.

Of course, there are probably other software’s that allows you to transfer and leverage BIM data out in the field. Please keep in mind, this list is only inclusive of apps that tie directly to 3D BIM data. To check out other apps for document management, RFIs, etc. please read these previous posts.

Did I forgot one an awesome app that helps you leverage your Building Information Model in the field?

Please comment below or feel free to contact us so we can add it!

Skyler Thomas

Skyler Thomas comes from the construction industry where she worked for a large healthcare general contractor, specifically involved with Integrated Project Delivery & Lean Processes. Her industry experience includes providing support to all field and office staff through Building Information Modeling, BIM enabled layout, BIM 360 Field & Glue implementations, iPad deployment, BIM box product development, and serving as an IT/Low Voltage systems project manager. Being a direct end-user of multiple mobile technologies and responsible for project specific and company-wide technology roll-outs, Skyler then joined the Autodesk channel as a core founder of a Technology Group where she streamlined sales and service efforts along with marketing, researching and developing partnerships, and continually searched for new growth opportunities for the group and organization. As of March, Skyler joined Topcon Positioning Systems as the BIM Business Development Manager to strategically grow Topcon’s BIM hardware and software offerings and to further cultivate Topcon’s presence as a hardware leader in the vertical construction industry.