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BIM Content Management at a Glance

BIM content management

For BIM, content is everything. It is essential for BIM projects. Content, as we see it in BIM (Building Information Modeling), is a digital 3D representation enriched with parametric information such as size, height, weight, article number and more.

BIM content consists of many different parameters. It includes technical and geometric parameters that form the external characteristics of a product. It also includes visual parameters that give an object a distinctive appearance and ensure that the virtual object behaves just as it would in reality. In addition, objects can be enhanced with dynamic parameters such as trade information.

In short: BIM content is aggregated content consisting of essential information needed by the MEP engineer without creating information overload.

Good content enhances the value of 3D models in the BIM process and in the ordering process.

The National BIM Reports (NBS), which surveys engineers, has consistently found that most want to receive BIM articles from manufacturers. This is because engineers want to deliver perfect models—models and drawings containing all the necessary information—information which will not fail in an essential part of the BIM workflow.

BIM Data is Essential to Content Management & Development

Why? Because content is a type of representation of data that allows you to use the data in your projects and to help you with forecasting, calculating, ordering, and project definition.

3D content from manufacturers provided by MEP content helps you to work with real-life items equipped with parameters, which can be used in projects to:

  • Create BOM (Bill of Material) lists

  • Create prefab sets

  • Create ordering lists

  • Make reliable calculations for MEP systems

It is important to focus on quality data in the MEP domain to make sure the overview of content provided is absolutely relevant.

Therefore, good, up-to-date content is required. But, what defines “good” content?

Working with both engineers and manufacturers on a daily basis, MEPcontent defines the following requirements for 3D content for the MEP industry.

Requirements for BIM Content Creation & Management

1. Compact Content (small in size)

Productivity and efficiency in BIM design is the number one priority for engineers. Construction projects often need to be delivered within a tight deadline, so designers and modelers work under time pressure. Content used in BIM projects should be compact and small in size so it does not slow down the entire BIM project, causing painful (up)loading waiting time.

2. Right and Correct Data

This might seem obvious, but 3D content equipped with the right and correct data is essential for building 3D models that are reliable and will not fail in the construction stage. But data is not always kept up-to-date. Manufacturers should make sure the available 3D content for their product is correct and matches their actual product data to ensure their content is actually used in BIM projects.

3. Easy to use and maintain

Once 3D content has been created and published, the content needs to be maintained and updated. Product data from manufacturers change over time, meaning 3D content needs to be updated as well. Therefore, manufacturers have to establish one safe source for their product data, which can easily be synced with the data used for 3D content. This makes it easy to maintain 3D content, even if it is published in different channels. Also, issues with different versions are avoided this way.

4. Easy to find

You should be able to easily use and find content. BIM platforms such as MEPcontent help engineers to quickly find all the 3D content they need for their BIM project. These BIM platforms also provide the MEP engineer with the necessary Revit, CAD and IFC files— files which can be downloaded for free to be used directly in a project. These are openly available after signing in.   

4 Ways to Simplify Creating and Managing BIM Content 

“We must have built one of these before.”

“Who overwrote my file?”

“These objects don’t even meet BIM standards.”

Sound familiar? 

As buildings become more complex and BIM transforms demands, construction projects can now involve as many as 100,000 files. 

What does that mean for the average designer or engineer? A lot of time and energy spent searching for constructible content. Multiply those few hours each week by several users and the number of projects worked on each year and it adds up to one thing — a big loss in productivity. 

Use these 5 tips to improve how you create and manage content, and to get thinking about the importance of good content in enhancing the value of your 3D models in the BIM and ordering processes.

1. Automate As Much BIM Content Creation as Possible

As pointed out in this article on ArchSmarter, there are some tried-and-true ways to keep your content organized: 

  • Simplest approach: Keep content sorted with a robust folder structure. The more granular the folders, the easier it is to pinpoint specific families. Be wary of using too many folders, as they can make “finding the right family like searching through a haystack.”

  • Using templates: Load commonly used families into a template file. Balance the number of families included in the template with overall file size. If you load in too many families, you will end up with unmanageable project files that are prone to errors.  Hybrid: Use spreadsheets to batch load families. While it’s time-consuming to create the family sets on the front end, it will be worth it when you can “load tens or hundreds of families with a single click.”

2. Standardize Your BIM Family Files

You’ll either be using out-of-the box content, downloading it from a library or manufacturer’s site, or creating youar own. In each chase, you should name or rename the family in a way that identifies where it came from makes it easy to locate in your family browser. 

Make sure your naming convention is clear and easy to understand. If it requires a cheat sheet or a committee to make sense of it, guess what? You’ll be answering the same questions over and over again or worse, other users will just ignore it and make up their own instead. Even if your naming structure makes sense to you, run it by a few co-workers before you implement it.  

More standardization best practices:

  • Use a prefix or identifier for your company for families created by you or your firm, so they can easily sort in the family browser

  • Project specific families should have a project prefix 

  • Add the LOD to the family name as a suffix for easier auditing, switching of higher and lower LOD families as needed, and to broadcast to the user how much detail they can expect in the family  

>> Don’t forget to consider: How will you update your content with each new release of your modeling software? Whether you create separate folders for each upgrade version, or use a single library and add new files for the different versions, things could get real hairy real quick. 

3. Manage Your BIM Content in One Inventory

When you’re working in your model, it’s fine to keep a small collection of items you will use in the future. Storing every component you loaded just in case you might need it is not. This will slow down your system to a frustrating pace. If a component you need accidentally gets purged, you can always load it back in. 

One of the biggest problems when working with content is that both individuals and entire teams go back to old projects and carry forward mistakes to new designs. Make sure to create a formal process for going back to correct or flag objects or components that have caused problems further downstream. That way you can ensure only the right content is available for your next project, eliminating rework, delays, and other poor outcomes.

4. Hire a BIM Content Specialist

There is a best way to create and manage your content: Have someone else do it for you! It’s incredibly easy for teams that spend time searching for and updating their own manufacturer content to miss product updates. Most manufacturers don’t send notifications when updates are made — meaning your entire building model could be thrown off, even if just one type of component was updated without your knowledge. 

There are more time-saving, headache-stopping benefits to using a managed content provider:

  • Easily find the content you need with advanced filtering, sorting, and tagging

  • Making data accessible across teams and applications removes silos and makes real-time collaboration possible

  • Having the most accurate, detailed information available allows for digital-twin builds and the reduction of risk further throughout the project

  • Preview the family before you load it saves time

  • Help your team maintain the quality and usefulness of your content over the long term 

There’s no getting around it: BIM models today require content. Lots and lots of content. Yet budgets and deadlines have rarely kept pace. It’s time to manage your content in smarter and more efficient ways.

BIM Software Can Help with MEP Content

Shrinking budgets result in BIM engineers designing in even smarter and more efficient ways. Good software is necessary to do this. But different projects require different functionalities in your software (and different content needs). Flexibility is becoming even more important here as well.

The ‘on-demand’ model, such as the system we use at home for Netflix, will increasingly penetrate the world of design software. Software, updates, and support are included in a monthly payment, and consequently can be adjusted precisely to meet your needs. Specific design tools, available as Apps, will appear more frequently. The functionality and content you need at a specific moment can easily be installed for your project by means of these handy Apps.

Ready to browse the world's largest BIM library for MEP engineers? Or is it time to look at making the move to Trimble MEP? Reach out today to see how we can help your mechanical, engineering, or plumbing business!