- "Can I get a BIM box please for my site?"
- "Ok, what spec do you want? What do you want it to do? What software do you need on it?"
- "I don't know just give me a BIM box"
Do you want a Ford Ka or a Lamborghini?
This call happens more than you might expect.
Although slightly exaggerated for your enjoyment, we see these requests come in batches, typically when someone sees it online, or when someone else has it and now they want it.
No different than when you go to a shop on a warm summer day and see someone walk out with a 99 ice cream, you can be sure you will want one too!
Its important that when you order the 99 cone you know whether you want a flake, some syrup, or both. It's also worth knowing if the cone will work when you get back to your car. What are the risks? Are there any kids or a dog that might snatch it?
So, are BIM Box's the be all and end all?
We have mixed reviews here. Like most of our articles try to reiterate, you must first identify a problem as to why you need it. Then you must specify the budget with a clear understanding of how it will work and where it will go. All the while you must ensure you know all the risks involved in implementing it successfully.
To give you an analogy - Ford Motors built a race car in the 1960s, but had they not made the decision to go with Ken Miles as the driver, there is no guarantee that the car would have made it around the track on that famous day in Le Mans in 1966. As a result of the quality of driver Ford chose, they placed themselves in the history books in the process of overturning the great Ferrari. A team is only as good as the sum of its parts! If you buy a box, you better ensure it can be driven.
As construction companies, we have implemented some of the most technologically advanced "War Room" style set ups around the world for a number of Mega Scale projects and clients. As we are not out to make margins on technology, our install comes with a warning, if the system in the back end is not set up correctly, this system then becomes an over priced commodity with no valuable return.
The term BIM Box can be confusing, as ironically it isn't exactly transparent to what it is or what it does. It's a clever marketing term, it has evolved too as time goes on. New names include BIM Cubes, BIM Stations, Digital Hubs - we are simply waiting for someone to call them 'Digital Twin Box's'.
In reality, this is only a glorified trolley with a screen and no matter what you try and do, at the end of the day it is typically overruled for power source by the welder. More often than not these box's remain locked and turned off down on site as the workforce see little to no value.
The problem is we are throwing the horse into the water, not leading it to it. We put a 3D model on a screen and land it down on a site with no real consideration for the end user. To put it in simple terms:
"If you put a fork in front of me when I am eating soup, I don't think I would appreciate it".
At GagaMuller, our aim is to bring things back to basics. If you insist on bringing a BIM Box to site, drop the name BIM and maybe call it something simple, we don't know, maybe a "computer"? Then you should begin with something simple.
We would recommend starting with a 2D drawing viewer tool on the system, where you have the latest project drawings neatly packed into clever folders.
Bluebeam Extreme will work absolute wonders for you.
Speaking from our own experience, this is by far the best product we have ever rolled out on sites for return on investment. The buy in from the team on the ground to this software has been immense.
Out of the hundreds of technical and amazing things Bluebeam does, why is it the simplest one that is the most valuable? This is Bluebeam's ability to read drawings/names automatically, overwrite them and stamp them 'superseded' when new ones comes in. In terms of risk mitigation, reduction on rework and mistakes on site, this could potentially amount to hundreds of thousands saved, depending on the project size. Amazingly, Bluebeam can be rolled out with minimum "specialist" requirements and all for the cost of a few thousand euro.
Once you have the workforce comfortable using the computer, the horses have come to the water. Now simply leave the 3D model viewer there for them. Maybe stick some "How to" guides onto the wall, tips and tricks for navigating the model.