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How C4r And Bim 360 Provide Improvements To Aec Projects

By Author: Kuldeep Bwail
Total Articles: 7

Multiple teams and project stakeholders are involved in various stages during the design of a construction project. When teams of different disciplines are working from various locations on the same model, seamless collaboration and sharing of project data, synchronised coordination, two-way communication and the ability to review and comment upon a design can heavily influence the success of a project.

The conventional practice in architectural 3D BIM modeling and sharing, involved using Revit server, typically a firewalled, enterprise-wide, server set up, housing Revit files that were shared via firewalled and protected data environments. However, whilst the Revit Server software was cheap, the hardware was very expensive, requiring servers at the multiple locations housing the model. The platform also required a dedicated IT team as well as a robust server, wherein collaboration, communication and coordination of teams happened after team members created their individual models. More recently, the advent of Collaboration for Revit (C4R) has seen an upsurge in collaboration, as the tool is cloud based and requires minimal IT expertise or IT set up time. To enable collaboration, communication and anywhere, anytime access to project data throughout the building construction lifecycle, there are cloud-based collaboration and work sharing tools such as BIM 360 Team (known earlier A360), and more recently introduced Collaboration for Revit (C4R) which are both used in today’s AEC industry.

BIM 360 – A Construction Management Tool

BIM 360, a construction management tool, is designed to help project managers, BIM managers and field managers to collaborate with various project stakeholders, to deliver projects faster while adhering to design standards and project requirements in an architectural BIM modeling or a MEP (M&E) BIM project. As a tool BIM 360 can be used with or without Revit as the dominant software tool. Whilst to many, it would seem odd that Revit Server is still used instead of C4R, it is actually because of its take up and adoption and therefore legacy use before C4R was introduced and therefore it is already being used to manage and store projects. In the Autodesk suite, any tool with ‘360’ is a cloud-based solution. With cloud collaboration, BIM 360 provides architects, consultants, designers, engineers and on-site teams with updated project information. Some of the applications in the BIM 360 family include BIM 360 Team, BIM 360 Glue, BIM 360 Docs and BIM 360 Field.

• BIM 360 Team is a browser-based cloud collaborative tool for users who do not have Revit. Users can sign up for a trial to collaborate, access, view, add markups and conduct live reviews. This tool is used only for collaboration and is not a work sharing tool.

• BIM 360 Glue is a cloud-based tool which allows multiple stakeholders to review, detect clashes and resolve issues through a multi-platform network. With BIM 360 Glue, teams can collaborate, review, annotate and markup individual models which are then merged and tested for coordination. Resolving coordination issues is easier as teams can load coordinated models into Navisworks (clash detection software) and send notifications to provide updates to multiple project stakeholders.

• BIM 360 Docs is similar to other data sharing tools such as Dropbox. BIM360 Docs is a cloud-based tool which allows for the exchange of project data and provides construction project teams with the access to the latest plans, models and documents.

• BIM 360 Field is a cloud-based, field management and reporting tool which provides field managers and teams on-site with updated project information through a dashboard which is accessible on any device and platform.

Collaboration for Revit (C4R)

C4R is the latest feature in the Autodesk family and is a cloud enabled Revit worksharing collaboration tool that can be installed on any workstation with Revit. This BIM cloud collaboration software facilitates working collaboratively on a central model from anywhere and by any member of the project team working BIM modelling project specifically on an architectural BIM modeling or a MEP (M&E) BIM project. By using C4R for AEC projects, teams can collaboratively work on one central model in the cloud, instead of working through a local server. Architects, consultants, designers and other team members can upload Revit models to the cloud, link or publish their models using the BIM 360 Team hub and communicate and collaborate on the same Revit model. The basic steps to setup C4R include:

• Software coordinators or contract managers, who have privileges to manage user access to services and products, need to subscribe to the C4R service from the Autodesk eStore or a reseller.

• They then need to setup an Autodesk ID to grant access to users and relevant team members who would be using the C4R tool.

• The purchased C4R service then needs to be assigned to a BIM 360 Team hub.

• Various projects can then be created on the BIM 360 Team hub which hosts C4R models.

• The users need to be given access to C4R and invited to relevant projects on the BIM 360 Team hub.

• The C4R add-in is available by default on all later versions, post Revit 2016. If Revit 2015 or earlier versions are used, the C4R add-in has to be installed.

Once C4R is installed and set up, there are various features that project managers and team members can use to utilise the tool at an optimal level.

• Worksets - are created to assign multiple team members with specific access and assignment of specific tasks in a project. Similar to layers, each user or team member will be responsible for a workset assigned to them.

• Editing requests – if a user wishes to edit another team member’s work, an editing request can be sent and changes could be made once the user accepts the editing request. In this way, the coordination of multiple team members on various aspects of the project is possible.

• Communicator – there is an integrated communicator tool which has a user-friendly interface and is similar to an instant messenger. This is an important feature as it helps to communicate project updates in real-time. Images of Revit model changes can be captured, marked up and sent to the project team using the Communicator.

• Sync with Central – once changes in a model are completed by a team member they can use the ‘Synchronise with Central’ feature to update the changes made before publishing the model. This worksharing ability in an online environment is one of the single largest contributors to the success of C4R today as users across locations can see changes as they occur and respond to them as needed.

• View and restore versions – every time a user synchronises with the central model a new version is created. Previous versions can be viewed and restored, however, once a version is restored it becomes the current version and the recent versions are deleted.

• Integrating with BIM 360 Team allows non-Revit users to access and collaborate on a project using a browser. Design changes can be communicated, markups and comments can be added by project members who do not have Revit but want to access the project and make changes.

During the design development stage, collaboration tools such as BIM 360 Team and Collaboration for Revit (C4R) will help team members working on various aspects of one project model coordinate, communicate and collaborate. During the construction stage, a combination of BIM 360 Field integrated with BIM 360 Glue can facilitate real-time feedback within a 3d model, allowing construction teams access to clash-free, coordinated models which are integral in hassle-free installation and construction on-site. The best practice when using work sharing and cloud-based collaboration tools is to use a combination of various tools based on the application each tool provides as per the project requirements and based on the stage of the building construction lifecycle.

How C4R and BIM 360 Provide Improvements in AEC Projects

To successfully complete a construction project, collaboration, coordination and communication can be the determining factors. By using cloud-based, collaboration and work sharing tools such as BIM 360 applications and C4R for AEC projects, one can see improvements in project management, reduction of costs and faster and more efficient project delivery. Other improvements from C4R and BIM360 are discussed below:

1. They provide a holistic view of the project by multiple stakeholders – Cloud-based collaboration tools provide all project stakeholders with a holistic view of the project instead of an isolated view of one particular element by individual team members. This bird’s eye view of the project enables team members to collaborate and communicate to help to deliver coordinated models.

2. They provide real-time, two-way communication – The C4R tool has an integrated ‘Communicator’ which allows real-time communication, access to information on projects uploaded to the cloud and collaboration with project members on active projects.

3. They provide seamless collaboration – Collaboration tools help to connect project teams and provide centralised access to BIM project data, therefore keeping all members informed about project updates. By using C4R, architects, consultants and project managers can upload their Revit to the cloud and link their projects using BIM 360 Team, allowing access to project team members to view, make changes and communicate using the integrated Communicator.

4. They facilitate efficient coordination and interference analysis – Collaboration tools, in combination with clash-detection programs, facilitate efficient coordination and clash detection to help reduce costs that may be otherwise incurred for re-work. By using C4R in combination with BIM 360 Field and BIM 360 Glue, synchronised coordination of changes, real-time feedback and updates of project information ensure coordinated models are clash-free and construction ready. This reduces the time spent and cost incurred on resolving coordination conflicts on site.

5. They reduce costs and increase project management efficiency – There are features in both collaboration tools which facilitate the measurement of efficiency and productivity of teams. By increasing project transparency and coordination, they help to reduce errors, deliver projects faster and decrease costs otherwise incurred due to re-work.

6. They provide access to the best-suited resources and facilitate remote project management – they enable teams to work remotely and collaboratively using cloud-based, collaboration and work sharing tools. With remote access and project management, there is the opportunity to procure the best-suited resources and capitalise on cross-border team procurement to facilitate on time project delivery within budgetary requirements. Remote project management also translates to lower expenditure on IT infrastructure.

Cloud-based, collaboration and work sharing tools such as C4R and BIM 360 provide AEC companies with a sophisticated solution to address project management challenges by facilitating cross-border collaboration, seamless coordination and open, two-way communication between project stakeholders. They also enable cross border resource and team procurement with little added effort, sometimes making substantial fee savings in the process.

As AEC firms are considering the adoption of new technology to facilitate effective project management, reductions in cost, increased efficiency and faster project delivery of AEC projects, cloud-based, work sharing and collaboration tools could be the best possible solution available to AEC firms that need to respond to the increasing requirement for faster BIM-based project delivery within budgets.

At XS CAD, we use BIM 360 tools to facilitate anytime, anywhere access to project information and collaboration with our overseas clients. We use the Collaboration for Revit (C4R) feature in Revit and BIM 360 Team, to help project teams collaborate in the cloud and to gain centralised access to Revit models. XS CAD also used BIM 360 Docs to facilitate better project file management in the Retail sector. By using BIM tools, XS CAD efficiently collaborates and communicates with projects teams and clients worldwide. To find out how you can improve the project management of your AEC projects by using cloud-based, work sharing and collaborative tools, contact us.

More About the Author

Kuldeep Bwail, XS CAD Director, has worked in Pre-Construction, BIM & 3D Modeling for last 16 years. XS CAD specialises in multi-service & multi-disciplinary spatial co-ordination using Offshore CAD Team services in the UK, US, Australia & Canada. For detail info: http://www.xscad.com/

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