Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Do I Mean By Model Integration?

I wanted to take a post to explain a commonly used term that carries a lot of importance as software tools improve and interoperability increases, model integration. Model integration is the ability to take a single model and use it for design, analysis, documentation, virtual construction and finally facilities management. Each of these will be explored further in future posts but let's start by taking a look at the opportunity and challenges we face in this effort.
It is completely irresponsible of me to tell you that this is, top to bottom, entirely possible and incredibly easy. At the very least it takes a very pointed LOD document and a fair amount of model repurposing. In addition to that it might take a good deal more scope, so be prepared when the client asks for a model they can use in FM, it might mean a whole lot more modeling and data integration. There's that word again, integration.

Now let's take a look at what I consider to be the major hurdles to model integration:

Willingness to Share Models - This was a bigger problem 2-3 years ago, but the fact that sharing a Revit model means all of your content goes with it make people understandably nervous.

Consistent Modeling - If you don't know what fidelity of model you are getting how could you reliably use it? Many in the industry have taken the dive into the LOD document, but how do we make that more than just an addendum to a contract? How do we bring that into the modeling habits of the ever day user?

Entrenched Belief - In such a quickly changing industry is it impossible to assume the quality of the model you get today is the quality of the model you get tomorrow. Don't make rules that are hard to turn back on. Several years ago a General Contractor would scoff at the idea of using a designers model. The most progressive of that group would simply reply "I'll model it myself".  Now when we show contractors the easily leverage-able elements in a Revit model most can't believe what they are seeing. It won't replace every manual effort, but certainly some if not most.

Limitations of File Formats and Software Capabilities - This one mainly has to do with solutions being over sold on their "automatic capabilities". Software is software, I am not trying to change the software, I am looking to saddle it and take it for the most beneficial ride I can. Great strides have been made recently to make models more friendly to construction modeling repurposing and more is coming on integrating structural and building performance analysis. I get stuck in the "It's 2012! Why can't t do that yet." But that doesn't matter in the end. Keep in mind this is a stagnant technology, today's issues are tomorrow's new functionality. The sky is he limit.

I hope to explore more detail model integration process and issues for each of the 5 types of models during the course of this blog. Stay tuned.

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