Driving Model Quality - Dr. Born - Dr. Ermel GmbH - Daniel Alexander Oehler

Driving Model Quality for Dr. Born – DR.Ermel GmbH

Want to learn from the best? In our Driving Model Quality event series we invite BIM professionals to walk us through their successful way of working. This customer story is a summary of the highlights of this event starring Dr. Born – Dr. Ermel GmbH.

Are you interested in the recording of this online event? You can watch it here (German language only).

Alexander Oehler is working as a BIM specialist in the engineering firm Dr. Born – Dr. Ermel GmbH in Achim. Together with his more than 270 colleagues, located in six different locations throughout Germany, he deals with projects in energy, environmental and industrial engineering as well as underground and above-ground infrastructure.

As a BIM representative, Alexander is working in the BIM and Digitalization department, where BIM development, implementation, and support in the company are strongly promoted. The entire BIMcollab ecosystem is used with great enthusiasm. His current employer is convinced of the possibilities and potential of BIMcollab. Alexander was kind enough to share his experience of implementing BIMcollab and the benefits of the BCF methodology with us.

Project examples from Born Ermel Ingenieure (Credits: Born Ermel Ingenieure)

BIM Standards, BIM methodology and the BCF standard

Alexander begins by pointing out the most important BIM standards used in the international, European and German construction industry. For example, these include:

  • ISO EN 19650:2018 Informations management with BIM
  • EN 17412:2020 Level of Information Need
  • DIN EN ISO 23386 Bauwerk Informationsmodellierung
  • Richtlinienreihe VDI 2552- BIM
  • DWA/DWGW Merkblattreihe DWA-M 860- BIM in Water Management
  • buildingSMART (predominantly IFC-Schemes, BCF-Methods and bSDD)

As a spokesperson of the buildingSMART group “openBIM in water management“, he calls on all interested parties to support the work of the buildingSMART technical groups in standardization. It is important to make the BIM processes more practical by extending the IFC standard with the use cases (UCM), model view definitions (MVD), property sets (Pset), and other useful tools needed in water management.

Excerpt from the technologies and interrelationships used by Born Ermel Ingenieure (Credits: Born Ermel Ingenieure)

For Alexander, the term “BIM” is a synonym for the use of digital tools and their working methods to facilitate and optimize planning, construction and operational processes.

What about the BIM development process? It all started with 2D planning. Then it went one step further toward 3D planning without significant non-geometric information. Currently, 3D planning has arrived at using “intelligent” objects. In addition to the classic use of models for model-based planning, information and quality evaluations, Alexander also recommends the use of BIM in the long term to additionally strengthen cooperation between all actors involved in the project. In addition to planners, this can also include approval authorities, clients, constructors, and operators of technical facilities or networks.

He used the BCF standard for the first time in 2019 Project “Zukunftsquelle Bodensee Wasserversorgung”. He had initially worked with the basic functions of the BIMcollab Nexus and quickly recognized the advantages of the BCF meta-database when collaborating with the planning team, which ultimately led to better BIM planning models. In the course of working on the first BCF projects, he studied the BCF standards autodidactically and exchanged information interactively with other users. Since then, he has been so convinced of the use of model-based communication and rule-based model checking that he is driving its application in many of the company’s projects. Now, he is absolutely sold by this approach and he cannot imagine working any other way.

BCF Standard Implementation in Projects

The BCF standard is increasingly used for model-based and non-model-based communication within planning teams. Even without a requirement from a client, the office-internal use of the BCF standard can contribute to an improvement in work processes, optimization of planning results, and employee satisfaction. Of course, other institutions and actors involved in planning and construction can also be included in the communication process. However, it should be noted that as the number of participants and the complexity of the organizational structure increase, the support service provided by the BIM team must also be adapted.

The BCF standard is well suited to handle the deficits, questions and other tasks identified during the visual and rule-based quality check of 3D models in a well-organized manner. For project management, the evaluation of metadata of the tasks (issues) can provide a new working tool to keep an eye on the planning progress, the planning quality, and also the project status. In case of deviations from the planned project execution, the project management can react and counteract in time.

Alexander emphasizes several times how important project-specific cloud setup, training, and continuous support are for the entire project team. Only through this can there be a continuous use of issue management and the commitment of team members can be maintained.

OpenBIM Ecosystem from BIMcollab

Born Ermel Ingenieure opted for a BIMcollab Enterprise subscription with currently 110 users and 8 Zoom licenses. The main reason for this was additional functionalities that provide better insights into project statistics, as well as the flexible floating license and license pools for their numerous BIMcollab Zoom users.

Let’s get straight to the exciting part and the question of how Born Ermel Ingenieure use the full range of the BIMcollab openBIM ecosystem?

The BCF Manager is used as an additional tool in all native software programs (Revit, AutoCAD, STRAKON, Archicad, etc.) for cross-software communication (issue management).

(Credits: Born Ermel Ingenieure)

All project members are provided with the Viewer version of BIMcollab Zoom as an IFC viewer for navigating through the IFC coordination models and creating tasks. Selected users from their respective departments and the main general coordinators use the paid Zoom licenses for coordination and quality control (clash detection, information enrichment, etc.). For additional issue management, the online model viewer integrated into the Autodesk Construction Cloud can also be used via the BIMcollab Nexus Server in the office, on-site and on business trips.

How the BIMCollab Ecosystem is being implemented by Born Ermel Ingenieure (Credits: Born Ermel Ingenieure)

The teams exchange the working models via a collaboration server. The entire team is informed about upcoming or completed model checks via BIMcollab. An important point is the effectiveness of the BIMcollab Zoom Viewer. This allows all users to proactively examine, validate and navigate their partial or overall models from a different perspective. This also gives each user more opportunities to understand their own models or the models of other stakeholders outside their own modeling software. Through a variety of setting options (Smart Views, Lists, Clash Checks, Smart Properties, etc.), another perspective is also possible with regard to model quality or with regard to modeling specifications and information enrichment.

(Credits: Born Ermel Ingenieure)

The most important part of issue management is always the issue itself. Alexander shows us the process of creating and resolving an issue and emphasizes how helpful the transfer of the issue view in the native software solutions and modeling tools (Revit, Civil3D, etc.) through the BCF Manager is. As the object is directly referenced and selected, it simplifies the process by greatly reducing the risk of confusing the objects to be edited. The user interface in the BIMcollab BCF Manager is identical to the various software solutions and is user-friendly and easy to use. Additional training for new BCF software is thus reduced to a minimum.

Alexander Oehler also points out that regular synchronization is always advisable when using BIMcollab Nexus and BIMcollab BCF manager. Created issues can be resolved and closed, while all issue adjustments are documented in the comments area and are thus available chronologically for the entire project life cycle of the project. The image reference (screenshot) should be updated for each relevant change, thus enabling the viewer or reviewer to check the solution even without a 3D viewer. If a task (issue) is solved, Alexander recommends that the editor assigns the task to the creator. In this way, the creator can more quickly recognize the solved task in his or her own task list and check for correct implementation.

The multitude of organization options in BIMCollab Nexus allows for easy filtering and a good understanding of the processing status of the issues. This functionality is helpful to keep track of pending issues. The dashboard in BIMCollab Nexus is a great feature to track the project’s progress through visual graphics. These are also used for rough assessments of the internal planning and coordination process.

Other BIMcollab applications

Finally, we learn what other interesting use cases Born Ermel Ingenieure have found for the BIMcollab ecosystem. Below are some office-owned use cases that are helpful for processing and tracking internal projects:

  • BIM project templates
  • BIMcollab support team
  • BIMcollab Knowledge Base (an internal community for sharing information and knowledge)
  • BIM Team (for all members at the different locations)
  • Test project and coordination templates

It seems that they are maximizing the potential uses of BIMcollab, to improve not only the model quality but also the process quality in the design office. That is inspiring!

What’s next?

We asked Alexander how the buildingSMART community could further support Born Ermel Ingenieure and other professionals in the construction and water industry. He underlines the need to explore the requirements and needs of the construction and water management sectors to enable better information processes and greater interdisciplinary consistency. In particular, the communication and software interfaces between disciplines should be examined to see what IFC types, standardized parameters, and properties may currently be missing. A review of this sector’s requirements would ultimately help him and others to deal better with BIM. In the end, all stakeholders involved in the project want to speak the same language.

Future Challenges

… not to see the BIM method as a curse, but as a blessing …

We fully agree: the BIM method can be a blessing. For him, the future goal is to use and support all digital possibilities effectively and carefully in order to implement them successfully in the projects. The next steps are to incorporate and maintain the rule-based requirements from the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) into the whole design cycle of the project. This should be done in a way that equally supports and does not hinder workflows in modeling and coordination. The biggest challenge is to translate BIM theory into practice in the design, construction, and operation of structures. To do this, the standards must be brought closer to all users and the know-how of the BIM software and product experts must be transferred into an understandable engineering language.

Alexander makes a very good point about future challenges! Now we can continue to work positively into the future, with an even clearer goal. We would like to thank Alexander for sharing his experience with us. It is always a pleasure to hear how our customers use and enjoy the BIMcollab ecosystem.

Would you like to discuss your BIM challenges?

I hope you found this article interesting. Do you want to know more? My collegues and I would really like to show you how you can improve your BIM-workflow! You can easily book a date and time here.

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Let’s talk soon!
Lilian Mandalios