Sunday, August 01, 2010

500th Post – A BIM Rant

It’s hard to believe this blog has hit 500 posts. I haven’t done it alone, a coworker wrote one of the most popular early posts on point transformation as well as providing a whole lot of problems (or opportunities) that turned into blog posts. The Autodesk, AUGI and The Swamp discussion groups provided a bunch of problems that also turned into blog posts. I’ve solicited requests from readers for ideas  and got quite a few posts out of it. I’m working on a project that requires bringing it into Navisworks and providing a visualization of the project, which brought about this post. It seems like there is no easy way to create a retaining wall within Civil 3D for visualization purposes.

Much lately has been made of BIM from product marketers, trade magazines and blogs. Picture of Bixbey BridgeI think for the most part BIM is the future of design. Instead of utilizing 2D linework to represent the design; actual objects representing the design will/is being utilized.

But what is a BIM product? My broad definition of a BIM product is one that utilizes objects to model 90% of the design with a method to approximate the remaining 10% of the design with a generic objects. I’ve started to get familiar with Revit. While I haven’t done a complete project, it appears to be a BIM product. I can layout the walls utilizing a wall object. Within the wall objects I may add walls and windows that affect the walls. Change the size of the window, the wall updates to accommodate the new window sizes.  Walls may be tied to levels making it easy to tie the the wall to a certain height. Change the level and the wall height updates. Most of the Architecture items are there.

Is Civil 3D a BIM product? I’d have to say a resounding no, it doesn’t even come close to being one. Picture of CurbsSure there are aspects of the program that resemble BIM, but overall it falls short. I’m currently working on a small site with curbs, valley gutters, retaining walls and pavement. I’ve searched through the Ribbon and Toolspace and haven’t been able to find any of those objects present. I’d consider most of those integral to a civil site design project. I know I could use a corridor to model the site which has some of the features. Unfortunately the site has numerous 90 degree right angles which don’t lend itself to a corridor due to lack of corner resolutions.  Additionally a corridor really isn’t a 3D object. It’s a collection of 2D drafting. You have the top 2D linework and then 2D cross sections. It is essentially the same method we’ve been using since civil design was done on paper.

Now the topic of this post wouldn’t have happened if Autodesk was positioning Civil 3D as a BIM product. Retaining WallsAs I look around the world I’m having a hard time coming up with a project where I could model it entirely in Civil 3D. Take the picture to the right. It’s a retaining wall along the most expensive highway in the world. I definitely could model the alignment and profile, but what about that sheet pile wall with a concrete top. Additionally the wall probably has tie backs or dead men incorporated into the design. Without doing a ton of custom subassemblies is it possible to model this layout within Civil 3D? I don’t think so.I’d have to create my Civil 3D model and then use AutoCAD primitives to create the wall in 3D. Which is fine for a product touted as a civil design product, not so fine when its a touted as a BIM product.

Really I just want a product that works, and for the most part Civil 3D does work, it just doesn’t work as a BIM product.

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Thanks for reading the blog. To celebrate my 500th post I’m giving away some Autodesk Swag. A briefcase from AU and an Autodesk pen which as a light. To win this swag provide a comment below stating what the most expensive road in the world is (inflation adjusted and you don’t have to be correct). I’ll put all of the comments into a hat and let my oldest daughter pick a name from the hat. A picture of the swag is below.

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Seamonkey Madness said...

To paraphrase Roald Dahl - The BFD.
(The Big 'Friendly' Dig)

Anonymous said...

That would be PCH, aka Route 1, aka 101 (sometimes), Pacific Coast Highway - especially the Big Sur area right?

Unknown said...

Hi, Chris. Is it BC's Coquihalla Highway?????????????????????????????????????????

I could sure use another briefcase! (or a lighting pen....)

Thanks for blogging all your great insight.

John Prince said...

I remember seeing it on the cover of CE magazine, but can't remember where it is. Want to say Oregon or Washington.

Forget "BIM" then, let's start "SIM"!.. Site Information Modeling! Surfaces, utilities, etc. Yes, Civil 3D is limited and isn't completely BIM, but it is part of an overall BIM process when limited to surfaces and utilities and combined with other models.

Christopher Fugitt said...

Congratulations to John Prince winner of the giveaway:

Anonymous said...

Peachtree Road in Atlanta - I actually think it is the gold stake in Highway 90 crossing the US - they put in a gold stake when the west met the East in MN.

Anonymous said...

gold state in MN


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