Company Spotlight does exactly what it says on the proverbial tin. Learn all about the history, BIM journey and latest Building Information Modelling developments of some of the industry’s most-recognised names. In the first Company Spotlight of the New Year, 3dbyggeri Danmark discuss their aim to provide “high-end” Building Information Modelling solutions for manufacturers.
“Objects do not have to be expensive, but they might cost you a lot”, says Tore Hvidegaard, Architect and CEO at 3dbyggeri, a Danish company dedicated to providing high-end BIM objects and solutions for product manufacturers.
“The central question for us has been: how do manufacturers behave in a BIM world? What value will BIM add to their business, and how can they optimise their processes by incorporating BIM? Although BIM is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the construction industries around the world, the correct answers for the manufacturers are seldom addressed.”
3dbyggeri Danmark (that is 3D construction for the non-Danish speaking readers) has for the last 8 years worked to a higher and higher extent within this field, developing a unique BIM approach for numerous manufacturers, most of whom have an international perspective.
“There are a lot of companies trying to convince the manufacturers that just by creating a range of BIM objects and distributing these via their portals (all of which claims to be ‘no. 1’) the manufacturer’s sales will sky rocket – but most of these companies fail to deliver on their promises”, says Hvidegaard. “Not all products are suitable as BIM objects, so in many cases, simply making BIM objects for your products will not be a good solution. Yes, it might be very easy to make objects if you produce windows, but what if you produce carpets or facade cladding, then it is not so straightforward. Then you need a solution other than just objects.”
With a background and experience as a practicing architect, Tore Hvidegaard founded 3dbyggeri Danmark in 2007 together with two software developers. The company was founded in response to the increased use of BIM in the construction industry in Denmark, and based on the knowledge of what an architect needs when designing buildings; very basic needs that not all manufacturers are aware of.
“When I was designing buildings, this is before anyone was talking about BIM, I often wondered why the materials from the manufacturers was so incomplete, and why obvious elements such as 2D and 3D models were missing. I quickly learned that although architects and manufacturers are very dependant on each other – and both parties are very aware of this – they do not really know anything about each other, and how the other works.”
This realisation later begged the question; if this is where we stand, what will happen now that BIM is ready to become a game changer? The ambition for 3dbyggeri became clear: Bring the architects and manufacturers closer together, through optimized digital solution.
From Local to Global
During 2007, government initiatives put a lot of focus on BIM in Denmark, but since most manufacturers sell their products to a wide range of countries, 3dbyggeri quickly realized that for most manufacturers, Denmark was just one of many markets, but the need for high quality BIM content went across borders.
“When we made our first project for VELUX, we focused on the Danish market, but only one week after VELUX released the objects, the German sales team called the VELUX headquarter asking why the German architects were asking questions regarding VELUX’ Danish products. They then realised that the German architects had searched online for VELUX BIM objects, and had found and downloaded these from the Danish website. That is how fast things travels across borders nowadays! As a response, VELUX’s BIM efforts quickly became an international effort.”
“These days there is a wider spread use of BIM across Europe, and the clients always ask: “What about BIM in France, Germany and the UK?” UK is working on national standards, so this helps a lot, but we still use a lot of resources on gathering knowledge and having a network of BIM users, in order to be able to guide our clients to the best BIM solutions that fit their markets.”
High levels of detail is not high quality
3dbyggeri was by far one of the first movers regarding content creation and BIM solutions for manufacturers in Denmark and Europe in general. But as competing companies appeared and the company became more entrenched in the world of BIM, it soon became apparent that the full potential of BIM was in no way being reached when the market was flooded by hastily drawn 3D models of questionable quality.
What constitutes high quality BIM objects and solutions is a continuous debate between the manufacturers and the architects. While manufacturers focus on product resemblance and getting the product detail right, the architects often ask for low or medium detailed objects, which perform better in large BIM models.
“The question about high and low detail is central for manufacturers to understand. High detailed objects might look beautiful, and just like your real life object, but seen from the architects view they are close to useless. Basically you have to ask yourself ‘would I rather have objects that look like my products or objects that the architect actually use?”
All this adds to the confusion and uncertainty of the manufacturers in regards to BIM, which results in them not being prepared to service the architects with usable models. Tore has the following advice for the manufacturers: “Get prepared, but do it at a reasonable pace. And go ask the architects from the beginning: ‘what do you need from us’, and as the BIM project develops go back to them and ask: ‘are we on the right track?’ You have to realise that BIM is a part of your overall brand appearance. Not having BIM or having bad objects will give the architect a bad impression of your company and your products as a whole. Basically you should use the same care for the objects and BIM solutions as you do for your website and brochures.”
Better understanding and open standards, please!
When 3dbyggeri started in 2007, BIM was very new to everyone, and a lot of things were only concepts, ideas, and ambitions on a drawing board; as time went on and more and more things were tried, it became clear what added value and what ideas were – well, ideas.
”In the BIM world things change very fast. What was true 2 years ago could be utterly wrong today. A lot of content creators are basically salesmen and technicians without knowledge of how the industry works, and we would hate to end up in this category. So to keep up with the changes we at 3dbyggeri dedicate approx. 25% of our time to non-manufacturer specific work, such as work for building owners and contractors or for making new ICT standards. We do this to ensure close relation with and understanding of the construction industry as a whole, as we feel this is the only way we are able to give the manufacturers the best BIM services and make the best BIM solutions.”
3dbyggeri Danmark has committed itself to the continued development of BIM and is continually in dialogue with major players in the building industry, other like-minded businesses and competitors. As architect and project manager Karen Sarna Hansen says:
“We have learned that the driving force behind 3dbyggeri, is reaching the full potential of BIM, but the thing is: we do not work independently in the industry. Interdisciplinary constellations and constantly shifting collaborators begs for open standards and a willingness to share breakthroughs. If these are kept as closely guarded trade secrets it will hinder the development of- and the potential gains that lies in BIM.”
The full potential of BIM has not as yet been reached. But 3dbyggeri Danmark is continually working towards this full potential along with its partners.
“Through recent partnerships nationally and internationally – where we have had the pleasure of working with partners who share our vision for BIM and a like-minded innovative spirit, we are getting closer to the ultimate goal for 3dbyggeri Danmark – to maximise value through mutual understanding.”
Join us on Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 for the next instalment of Company Spotlight.