On Sept. 22, Autodesk launched a new model coordination workflow between two of its most popular clash detection and design review tools—Autodesk Navisworks and BIM 360 Model Coordination.

The programs are used by architects, engineers and contractors in the design review stage of projects to fix clashes and other issues that become bigger problems during construction. But in the era of social distancing, coordination meetings that contractors used to rely on to facilitate these processes are few and far between.

BIM 360 is part of Autodesk's Construction Cloud, but Navisworks is a desktop application, and users need a high level of familiarity and expertise to know how to drive and fly through its data-heavy parametric building information models.

Most contractors and specialty contractors leave Navisworks training to their virtual design and construction professionals. Because of the program's complexity, whole project teams would often have meetings in large conference rooms, construction trailers or spaces with powerful desktop computers known as CAVEs (computer-aided visual environment) to go through Navisworks models together. With this integration, project teams can automate clash detection in BIM 360 Model Coordination, as well as create and assign issues from either Navisworks or BIM 360. The workflow enhances existing coordination workflows for Navisworks users and allows BIM 360 Model Coordination users to do more specific clash detection and analysis in Navisworks.

"What we've done with [BIM 360 Model] coordination is build on top of the existing document management solution—that's where all our customers store their data," says Paul Walker, senior product manager at Autodesk. "So, we're operating and running an automation service directly on top of that. VDC managers now can use model coordination to really just point to the relevant folders inside of the docs environment and assign issues to the right person."

This means that VDC managers can assign clashes and other issues from BIM 360 Model Coordination to piping sub-contractors and other project partners, and they'll be able to see model views from Navisworks. The connection is two-way and those who like to work in Navisworks can assign issues from it as well. The workflow allows project managers and superintendents to track the issues all the way through resolution, with model data informing each step of the way.

"One of the things I've dealt with for almost three years now is tracking issues," says Chris Walker, VDC project manager at Penta Building Group in Nevada. "With this BIM 360 Model Coordination integration, tracking issues will definitely [be] a lot easier with all the information being in one location."

Walker adds that being able to have clarity without physical meetings will benefit Penta projects such as the $375-million Caesars Forum Convention and Conference Center on the Las Vegas Strip.

"Sometimes it's good to have everyone in person looking at a screen," he says, "but once the meeting is over, those people don't operate and update the model in the same way. You need to be able to detail what the issue, whether it's been opened and what was done to resolve it."

For Southfield, Mich.-based Barton Malow, the opportunity to share Navisworks model data the contractor has been creating for years in BIM 360 Model Coordination will benefit projects such as the $1-billion Hudson's department store site redevelopment in Detroit.

"We've been using BIM 360 as a platform now for about a year and a half, rolling it out company-wide," says Nick Bobbitt, VDC manager. "That's been scaling it up over that time. One of the things that we really didn't do was utilize model coordination, where, for the purpose of our teams, we're used to all the flexibility of Navisworks for clash detection and things like that. The coordination piece was kind of a missing link for us. Now that we've got this ability to connect Navisworks into BIM 360 Model Coordination, we've got the opportunity to utilize the power of Navisworks and get access to that information to everybody out in the field easily."