Close control with OpenBIM

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ZEEP architecten has invested in OpenBIM and integrated design processes. The result is better productivity, quality and customer satisfaction.

A collaboration between three co-operating disciplines: architect, engineer and installation consultant addresses a 26-house project in Zwolle, Netherlands (pictured), through integrated design.

ZEEP architecten, winner of the 2010 ‘How Smart Is Your BIM’ contest, worked alongside building structure consultant Vericon, an experienced Tekla user, and installation consultant Veccins3d, which works with DDS-CAD. The three firms agreed to collaborate in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and to monitor data quality by an independent check on modelling — and design errors.

The 26-house project in Zwolle, Netherlands was created through integrated design. Rendering produced by archivision.nl

ZEEP architecten chose to use Solibri Model Checker from Kubus architectural solutions, its BIM-partner and ArchiCAD-distributor. After a test phase, ZEEP concluded that Solibri could be used on various projects: internal, small projects and bigger projects in which collaboration is needed. Zeep architect Ronald van Aggelen says Solibri is the “unifying factor” for all these projects.

“Solibri works as a control system,” he says. “Solibri helps the team improve the quality of our work. It is an objective tool to monitor if the model meets predefined requirements.

“The beauty of this software is that even without coding during the process of elaborated design, all quantities can be extracted from the model.

“The way in which the design is created is independent of the working method or the used software. We strongly believe in this OpenBIM way of doing things.”

Working together

The starting point in exchanging information between the various construction partners is Industry Foundation Classes (IFC).

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IFC-data is stored in an IFC-server where Solibri is used as a shell. Solibri then monitors and checks the quality of both incoming and outgoing IFC files.

It is increasingly important to share information with other partners in the building process, Mr van Aggelen says. “Not only does that reduce failure costs caused by poor communication, it also optimises our internal processes.

“By using a BIM model and the exchange of transparent, unambiguous data we are forcing ourselves to the limits to get the best from the model.”

By way of example Mr Van Aggelen says: “We are able, by the use of Solibri, to answer any question about the building in approximately 10% of the time we normally spend.”

The move to greater co-operation with partners has meant a change in processes, Mr van Aggelen says.

“Construction partners are — almost by nature — wary of each other. This has to be overcome and we have come a long way with our partners on this level.

“Since working with Solibri my decisions are better founded. All partners are aware of the benefits of doing business this way.

Design optimisation

The use of OpenBIM during the design (ArchiCAD, Tekla, DDS-CAD, and Solibri) has ensured that the building permit was submitted within six weeks from starting the design.

Mr van Aggelen is pleased with the quick turnaround of the project, as is the client. “We also ensured an end product with a higher quality than the sum of its parts,” he says.

The project is ready for construction, marketing materials are made and the construction documents will be manufactured regarding the specifications of the contractor, directly from ArchiCAD.

The contractor will receive directly unsolicited information such as quantity surveys and costing data.

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