General contractors are rapidly implementing Building Information Modeling (BIM) in an effort to build faster, lower-cost, higher-performance buildings. For many general contractors, the principal benefit of using Building Information Modeling is that the application allows them to produce more accurate and more trustworthy construction documents. 3D models have the potential to supply vast amounts of data. However, some contractors struggle when attempting to convert that rich data set into printable documents that are effective in the field.
Some contractors use the terms "installation instructions" and "integrated work plans" when referring to their visions for the future of construction documentation. Although more Toughbooks® and iPads® are being used on job sites, the use of this technology is far from standard. Instead, outdated 2D black and white sheet construction plan sets are still used on the job-site as the primary design representation. While many contractors do have access to the 3D models in the job trailer, most installation teams continue to reference paper plans. As a result, the rich 3D data sets generated by Building Information Modeling applications must be transformed into guides for the installers through an alternative method.
Manufacturing environments are using tools such as Arbortext from PTC, 3dvia from Dassault, and Document3D Suite from QuadriSpace. These programs take in 3D data and generate annotated line drawings, interactive 3D models embedded in PDF files, or animated movies with instructions. These solutions streamline the documentation process by automating the development of high quality technical illustrations. According to QuadriSpace, "Using 3D CAD models for documentation efforts can trim 25% of your overall time-to-market." This technology could be directly applied within the construction industry. Applying this automated 3D data generation technology would mean improvements in productivity for documenters and engineers.
According to QuadriSpace, construction project trends are moving toward "textless instructions". An increasing number of user interfaces such as smart phones, Websites, kiosks and control panels are operated using icons. Communication via simple visuals reduces the possibility of misinterpretation and eliminates the need for translation. However, without color, these methods of communication would be far less effective.
The same concept applies to construction documents. Contractors are crippling themselves by working with plans and instructions that have been neutered of all the highly communicative color data that was in 3D model original. Using a black and white wide format printer to make monochrome reproductions is the same concept as operating a Building Information Modeling application in black and white. Employing color in printed construction documents is a more efficient use of current technology.
Resource Center Home Printing Construction Documents in Color