The speedikon BIM series, part 3

BIM2FM – What is the real benefit of 3D?

BIM has initiated a widespread discussion about 3D models. In the planning phase, it is quite beneficial to the builder to have a virtual walk-through to get a realistic idea of his future building and subsequently take the right decisions. However, when talking about future building operations, what is the actual benefit of 3D models for managing facilities?

Recently, we have had in-depth discussions with our users about this topic, particularly in our BIM User Group. None of the participants ever had an idea about a substantial benefit a 3D visualization would really deliver for building operations. The added information value is only small. Everybody knows that he should be searching for the fire detector below the ceiling, and obviously showing its position in 2D is entirely sufficient.

On the contrary, there are substantiated arguments against a 3D model. First, it is the far too large amounts of data that have to be loaded. In general, a CAFM operator does not have a CAD workstation providing enough computing power. Furthermore, you will encounter pretty unpleasant situations when trying to load the entire model into your browser, particularly when you are working in SaaS mode in the cloud. In return, when handling such a central process like Area Management, where you need to know who is using what and in which way, a 2D plan provides much clearer and better information.

At this point, we have just touched yet another important challenge: With all enthusiasm for 3D, it is a fact that you will never be able to dispense with 2D, not even in the planning and construction phase. Having said this, what would be easier to just derive the 2D plan from the 3D model? Sounds very promising at first glance; however, do not oversee the hidden dangers. Depending on the method how the plan was created, 2D plans may get enormous dimensions as well, which will again increase the loading time. What has happened?  You calculate the 3D down to the 2D by keeping all the lines, however. This means that a wall will then consist of the double number of lines. And as you know, each pixel must be sent across the web, which will not improve performance either.

Here is a good advice: In case you receive a 2D plan derived form a 3D model, please have a close look at it. Sometimes it really helps to just try to delete a wall. If you have already clicked 10 times on “delete”, and you still see lines, you will have the clear picture.