Many manufacturers ask themselves the question: why is it so time-consuming and complicated to create high-quality BIM content? And once created, why does the content seem to become instantly outdated or obsolete? Wouldn’t it be easiest if everyone just creates content and stores it in one single place? A place in the cloud for example?
Why the cloud isn’t the (full) answer
Admittedly, it sounds great: having one place where all data is kept and can be retrieved from. But the main BIM goal of a manufacturer is to deliver accurate and high-quality content, readily available for use by engineers and designers globally. And for this, simply storing the content in the cloud is not enough. Here’s why:
Content is susceptible to change
The truth is that content is susceptible to change. So once content is created, someone needs to make sure it stays up-to-date. Who makes sure it keeps representing the actual product offered the manufacturer? A third party? Or the manufacturer himself?
Having one place where all content is stored, handled by a third party improves the likelihood that the content stays up-to-date. Simply because there are (external) specialists dedicated to keeping the content relevant. But even though this improves the chance of keeping it up-to-date, it is not the complete solution.
2. The manufacturer holds the truth
Content should always originate from the manufacturer’s database, which is the true source of content. With far more advanced (and confidential) information enriching the BIM representations created today, you cannot blindly rely on a third party platform. There always needs to be a link (or at least a regular check) between the content and the manufacturer's database. This is the true source where the content has been created or at least has been authorized, holding the latest article information and updates.
See which manufacturers are already using BIM to their advantage.
3. Content is always a representation
As the term representation indicates, BIM content should only be as close to the actual product as necessary. By its very nature, BIM content cannot and should not be a 100% copy. It would only make models unnecessarily heavy and complex. Or even impossible to handle by engineers and designers working on large-scale projects. That’s why manufacturers need to know which information is needed by MEP engineers to do their work. Which leads us to the following point:
4. Specialized knowledge is required
Even manufacturer databases cannot always be up-to-date. Why? Because of new product lines launched and updates in existing product lines. Let alone the fact that there are no BIM representations on the moment a new product is added to the manufacturer’s database. It takes quite some time to develop a BIM model for a new product. That’s why manufacturers need the help of specialists who know how to build content: small in size, easy to use by the engineer, in compliance with important international standards and still a truthful representation of the actual products. Something manufacturers can try to build themselves, but does not always result in the best possible outcome. Doing something right, takes time.
The content creation workflow MEPcontent specialists use to create content for manufacturers
5. Manufacturers need feedback
How do manufacturers know if the created content does what modellers need it to? Solid and reliable feedback is needed from people who actually use the BIM content in their project. For this, manufacturers need to reach out to a community of MEP engineers and designers using high-quality BIM content. To provide users with a way to get in contact with content partners for what they really need. A content platform like MEPcontent brings manufacturers and engineers together. So when a user sees outdated content or is missing content, he can contact the manufacturer through the community about the importance of the content. This way, users can get the right content on the platform, while their feedback helps manufacturers drive additional sales and enter new markets.
Finding the right balance
Manufacturers need to deliver accurate and high-quality content, readily available on a content platform to engineers and designers globally. Content that’s easy to download and easy to use in projects and helps engineers doing their daily jobs and deliver results. Building your own content as a manufacturer and storing it in one single place might sound like a solution, but you’re mainly diluting the actual issue instead of actually solving it.
So, what do manufacturers need to take into account in content creation and content distribution? They need to put a system in place to:
Safeguard content quality by working with specialists
Stay aware of the content developments by joining the community
Keep the content up-to-date
Manufacturers need to consider carefully where and how content is created and shared and find a balance between dependency and versioning risks. Processes for reflection and keeping content up-to-date must be developed. Specialists such as the MEPcontent factory offer services that help with these processes. So that both manufacturers and MEP designers reap the fruits from the efforts put into BIM content creation. Let’s make it worth the effort.
About the Author
Stefan van Eerde is MEPcontent’s Senior Product Marketer for MEP Apps and MEPcontent.com. MEPcontent is part of Stabiplan B.V., a Trimble company. He leads the international App adoption efforts as well as growing the MEPcontent.com platform with more users.More Content by Stefan van Eerde