BIM BANG – When Flexiform Embraced Building Information Modelling

Flexiform’s BIM journey began in 2014, and over two years on we have collected enough experiences to reflect on the impact that BIM has had on the way we work. It has also given us the chance to think about the way we interact with the other habitants of the revolutionary digital platform.

The elements of BIM that draw interest tend to be the efficiency in the design, project delivery and cost savings. What we find most exciting about BIM here at Flexiform, is the collaborative nature of the platform, which in our eyes leads to design of better interior spaces, and ultimately better buildings.

As a manufacturer, we want to ensure that our BIM content is available to the industry professionals for early implementation. Kris Atkinson at Bimstore emphasises this by saying

Manufacturers providing BIM content allow their products to be placed into projects instantly containing accurate geometry and data of the product that will be placed, hence reducing uncertainty or risk.”

However making user-friendly BIM objects available for download is only one of the ways in which we have introduced BIM to the life of our organisation.

Our planning department uses BIM software, as well as Revit for the production of furniture layouts. It enables us to become part of the design team early on in the project. The Clients and architects welcome our expertise in the space planning of furniture and ability to provide 3d furniture model containing product data for efficient, smooth and time-saving project coordination.

The exchange of 3d information and data allows all parties involved to work together to provide the client with a building that meets the needs of its future users. This makes it possible to identify any challenges or necessary adjustments in the digital environment before the construction even begins.

Kris Atkinson

We have asked Kris Atkinson from Bimstore for his view on the issue, to which he responded

“if the project is a Design & Build contract the product is likely to get changed or value engineered maybe several times and this will require update work. For this reason some architects place generic content into projects. I think this mentality is not helpful and despite it being the usual that we have had for many years it is not in line with the ethos behind BIM in reducing risk, improving accuracy and delivering a project quicker and cheaper. By using manufacturer specific content you are minimising the amount of risk, are certain of spatial and clearance requirements and are also able to provide a more accurate cost, none of which can be done with generic content!”

Here at Flexiform, we fully agree with Kris’s comment. The benefits of using specific content as well as close interdisciplinary collaboration are demonstrated in below examples.

Non-Collaborative Case Study

Furniture plans are provided and already signed off, furniture is to be ordered in sizes to match. However, the client would like to see visualisations of the space with the correct product and finishes, which they intend to order.

At this point, the building has already been fitted out with the M&E equipment. The project is handed to our team. We discover that the positions of electrical points on the floor grid have been marked assuming feeding of the cables through the centre of the desk. This does not match the requirements of the bench system that has been specified.

The outcome: project is delayed as the electrical access points must be repositioned on site. The Client has limited time to make a decision on the finishes whilst we populate the model with the correct product, repeating the work that has already been done once and paid for.

Independent Case Study

Flexiform is appointed to populate a building model with furniture. The building construction has not even started. However, the design team is issued with a rigid timescale and EIR (Employer’s Information Requirements) setting out the best code of practice for the project.

Some space planning with 2d blocks has been carried out, but there is scope for changes in the project timescale. Flexiform team establishes insufficient storage across all departments based on a specialist survey. We carry out changes to meet all of the requirements briefed by the client.

As the project progresses, through regular model exchange with the architect, we identify clashes with any newly introduced building elements like air purifying equipment, and adjust the layout. In some instances the architect revises partition layouts to accommodate the furniture in line with any changes from the Client.

Additional high capacity storage system placed in the building model alerts the architect to change the specification of the floor structure to take the extra load. The outcome – potential issues identified at early stages prevented costly changes and delay on site.

The collaboration between the specialists results in optimal layout for Clients organisational needs. Plans are signed off before the building is off the ground and we can concentrate on utilising power of BIM software to issue the Client with as detailed information as they require organising the move to the new office using schedules, product tags and detail drawings.

BIM collaboration exploited to its full potential allows the design team to analyse all aspects of the project in far greater detail and a lot earlier on the timeline of the project than ever before. The potential is huge and with the new technologies appearing on the horizon, the future could not be more exciting! Watch this space…