How Graitec and cloud-based Autodesk software have transformed the design culture at BIM3
Location: London, UK
Headquartered in the City of London, BIM3 delivers building services and infrastructure design across a range of public and private sector projects and helps design residential, governmental, and commercial buildings. It has just over 30 employees and has delivered projects for many of the big names across the construction industry, including Mace and Laing O’Rourke. Historically, key projects have included the Stansted Airport expansion, and building services work for the Shard in central London.
More recently, BIM3 has been working on 40 Leadenhall Street, popularly known as “Gotham City.”
Key areas BIM3 concentrates on today include healthcare and data centres, where the company now has clients
located in the UK and across the rest of Europe. Over time, more of the work BIM3 has been doing has been cloud-based and online, and the focus has shifted from 2D to 3D design.
Whenever BIM3 wins a new contract or receives a new order, it needs to be able to respond quickly. Doing that effectively relies on having access to the latest design software, a robust systems architecture and high-quality services and support. In delivering on these requirements,
BIM3 relies on the capabilities of their Autodesk reseller and architecture, engineering, and construction software specialist, Graitec. BIM3 values the expertise of Graitec in rapidly putting together product and support packages but also the tailored approach and personal touch that Graitec offers. As David Huke, director of Graitec, states: “We pride ourselves on our commitment to meeting the specific individual needs of our clients. When we were working with BIM3 on the Shard project. I personally went up the side of the building in a lift with a server, 12 workstations and 24 monitors and set up and configured their whole network for them.” Graitec has also helped BIM3 get up and running with the software quickly, delivering in-depth training programmes on Autodesk® Revit® MEP, BIM software for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers, and project review software, Autodesk® Navisworks®.
Graitec has taken BIM3’s team through an essential capability right through to advanced levels. That has been key as around 90% of BIM’s projects today use Revit MEP, and most also use Navisworks.
More broadly, BIM3 now has nearly 50 licences of the Autodesk Architectural Engineering and Construction (AEC) software collection, which includes both Revit MEP and Navisworks and a range of other construction design software tools. It also has 30 licences, again sourced from Graitec, of what is now known as BIM Collaborate Pro (previously known as BIM 360 Design) to help deliver a collaborative BIM environment, not just internally but also across wider construction projects teams. On most of its construction stage projects, BIM3 uses Fabrication MEP within Revit itself. It finds the libraries and content are more applicable to the level of detail it needs. It also continues to use Autodesk® AutoCAD® design software on some projects. Across all these software solutions, Graitec provides BIM3 with ongoing high-quality Gold-level support. While the BIM3 team are experienced designers and has a high level of knowledge and understanding of the Autodesk software, this support has proved to be invaluable.
As Richard Hasell, director, of BIM3, stated: “As with all design software, whenever a new version of software comes out, there can be some teething problems or issues that you can’t solve on your own. Having that gold level of cover means we have someone on the end of the phone who can either jump on and sort it out for us or escalate any queries or issues directly to Autodesk on our behalf. That’s been key as Graitec know who best to talk to in order to get fast answers to any queries we might have.”
BIM3 has really been reaping the rewards from using the Autodesk software and from the training and support that Graitec has provided.
Especially through the pandemic when working from home has become the norm, being able to leverage Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro has proved to be a major benefit for BIM3. The ability to seamlessly collaborate with all project stakeholders no matter where they have been based has proven to be invaluable. Travel and accommodation costs have been slashed. It has been easy to keep the wider project team up to date on progress and able to visualise future progress even without physical face-to-face meetings.
Getting project stages signed off quickly has also been much easier, and this has, in turn, driven productivity levels up. The ability to work together on projects using popular 3D design software like Revit and Navisworks has been key in fast-tracking the design work and driving operational efficiencies.
David Huke of Graitec also pays tribute to the close working relationship between the two teams. “The way the two companies work complements each other well. There is a good mix of cultures,” he said. “They understand that we’re here to help them to help their business grow and be successful. We are successful because of their success. It’s as simple as that. It really is a ‘win-win’ situation for both businesses.”
As Richard Hasell, BIM3 points out: We would have struggled to carry on during the pandemic the way we were without BIM Collaborate Pro.
We started looking at it a bit before lockdown and now have enough licences for everybody who works with us. When lockdown started, we
experienced a couple of days of disruption, but since then, we have been able to continue our current projects with very little impact on our clients.” “In fact, the use of BIM Collaborate Pro has driven efficiency, enabling us to quickly expand the size and capability of our project teams,” explained Richard Hasell. “Some of our team are based outside the UK and decided to move back home to their families at the start of the first lockdown. With the help of BIM Collaborate Pro, they have been able to continue working as normal on our key projects – and that
has been a real positive.
“Thanks to BIM Collaborate Pro, it has also been easier for different stakeholders on any construction project to understand each other and work closely together. Using the software has, for example, enabled the building services team to share files easily with architects and structural engineers. And from the BIM3 perspective, this has allowed it to explain building services concepts more successfully to those who may only have limited knowledge.
BIM3 believes that tools like Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro are especially invaluable on larger construction projects. For example, on the Leadenhall project, BIM3 is working with 19 other companies and interacting with 150-200 design models.
It is also a heavily modularised project. The ability for all stakeholders to use BIM Collaborate Pro to share data has been invaluable in simplifying interactions and driving efficiencies throughout. In addition to this, Graitec and BIM3 have also been working with Autodesk to develop Autodesk Assemble software, which is able to track all the modules through the various production stages.
While BIM3 is now engaged in a steady return to the office as lockdown restrictions ease, its approach to design workflow has undergone a more permanent shift. Before the pandemic, BIM3 was working from a centrally based physical server located in their offices. Today that is no
longer the case and the company plans to continue to use predominantly online software services and tools even when everyone is back using the same office space. “Using cloud-based collaborative software supports a much more flexible approach to design,” added Richard Hassell.
“We would have had a very difficult time without this software in place over the past 18 months, and having it allows us to have greater peace of mind if we did move back into lockdown at any point in the future.