To take in the many presentations about building information modeling tools at the recent BIMForum conference in Dallas is to see first-hand the velocity of change arriving on construction jobsites, along with the upward move of the BIM adoption curve each year.
Chris Heger, a superintendent with Turner Construction, talked through how BIM tools are changing the pace of construction with some keynote examples among many. Modeling tools give his team the ability to create construction patterns and then mine for repeatable patterns, or to look for interchangeable parts from one job's similarity to another. Teams then put those parts to re-use on other projects.
What we're seeing in the construction trades, many attendees said, is that BIM is making information a bigger part of the project's supply chain in order to build at faster rates. Big Data is about thinking of the model as the database to mine, other attendees said.
BIM gives Heger's teams the ability to put work in place in much tighter areas, because they're "synchronizing men and machines faster than ever. We're pushing the edge of fatigue," he added. On some jobs with BIM integration, the firm is erecting steel at twice the normal rate. Project teams are also saving more information that was once tossed away, creating information supply chains that compress time.
Contrast the quickening pace with larger gains in networking speeds, sensors and processors that can render files on a jobsite and it's easy to see why paradigm shift is a hot term again, along with Gigabit Ethernet. ENR breaks down some of the big ideas from the event:
Networking, Sensors and AR
Three big trends will make Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality tools more common with collaboration, says James Benham, founder of software development and consulting firm JBKnowledge (which specializes in AR and VR with apps such as SmartReality).
First, pay attention to the growth in fiber to the home, which promises to bring upstream and downstream speeds of 1 gigabit per second to homes via gigabit ethernet and gigabit internet. From there, it's not a big leap to add speeds like that to a jobsite. But it is early in the rollout of gigabit internet networking speeds.
Still, South Korea, a leader in wireless networking technology, has succesfully tested 5G networks, he continued, and "that's a really big deal." Benham cited estimates that 5G (and by that he means true 5G) will be in North America by 2018. The ability to deploy gigabit speeds of data transfer on a smart phone will transform how workers use them on jobsites.