Last month we had the pleasure of attending the Building Innovation Awards in Manchester. We were shortlisted finalists in the category of Best Use of Information Management Using BIM…much to our surprise we won!
Andy attended the award along with our long standing partners Fexillon.
The project we submitted for consideration was our work with Benchmark Estimating to develop their Digital Estimator. This new to market software service provides immersive digital take-off and cut and fill functionality direct from sophisticated civil engineering models. Intuitive by nature, the Flex platform that powers the Digital Estimator extracts model data with ease, and seamlessly connects with core Benchmark product functionality to deliver an industry leading cost estimating solution for estimators.
A significant part of the Digital Estimator is built on our Flex platform. Flex is a cloud platform which radically streamlines the distribution and access control of critical BIM design data. This means Benchmark customers don’t need to worry about challenges of distributing potentially large and sensitive models to estimators, or ensuring they are using the correct versions, and users no longer need worry their IT equipment has resources to open complex models. Due to the sensitive nature of some projects, estimators are only granted access to the designs they require. With all design data hosted centrally the source BIM models never leave the Flex platform, and since Flex is optimised for the cloud the IT requirements are much lower than a typical desktop-hosted BIM take-off solution. By managing all asset and project data in the industry standard IFC schema, the Flex platform enables business processes, such as Quantity Take Offs to work on BIM data authored in multiple different proprietary tools, with a single consistent approach to take off quantities. The information can easily be shared across a multi-discipline project team using different software. The Flex platform also provides an accountable long-term record of the model that can be used in hundreds of different ways to help organisations fulfil their objectives.
Flex enables the quantification of all the elements in a design, using both data in the model as well as derived data, and by employing standardised query libraries and rate libraries, enables efficient and reliable extraction of quantities to integrate automatically into the cost breakdown. An efficient and accurate process for the user – what previously took weeks with drawings now take a few minutes by extracting data straight from the current models. Importantly, re-estimation is very simple, since the system can identify what take-off quantities require updating, refer back to costing libraries and perform re-estimation after a design changes, calculating updated quantities at the touch of a button. Due to Benchmark’s focus on Infrastructure clients, the ability to derive ‘cut and fill’ calculations from a 3D model was also key to the project. As part of the Digital Estimator tool an user is able to perform high level ‘cut and fill’ calculations using the 3D model without specialist skills – ideal for early earthwork estimates.
The cloud delivery of the Flex Platform in Benchmarks Digital Estimating tool simplifies the process of revising estimates when design changes occur, as iterations to a scheme’s design can be quickly reviewed to determine exactly what has been altered across a set of models. This allows users to quickly identify which take-off quantities require updating, instantly seeing the impact on cost and timings. Previously, using drawings, a re-estimate often required re-measuring of the entire scheme. The cloud hosting of BIM data also ensures there is a single source of truth for the project team, meaning data, alterations and updates are communicated with up to the minute accuracy, reducing the likelihood for human error when multi discipline teams are working through numerous design revisions. The Digital Estimator intelligently uses the cost data it gathers for each and every product to learn more about estimated cost versus final cost. The data the system gathers is a closed loop ever informing itself about how accurate end users could make estimates during the process and therefore helping businesses to increase their efficiencies and ultimately improve their bottom line on a project-by-project basis.