Traditional workflows involved designers/architects/engineers producing design drawings that were then translated by draftspersons into 2d drawings which were then reviewed and redlined for corrections in a reiterative process until the drawings were finished accurate and complete.
So let’s talk about the inefficiencies of the traditional workflow.
Step 1. Initial design drawn by the D/A/E = designer/architect/engineer
Step 2. Handoff to the draftsperson so that design can be redrawn, printed and returned to the D/A/E,
Step 3. D/A/E reviews and redlines (draws again corrections) to the drafted drawings and adds additional info,
Step 4. repeat steps 2 & 3 over and over until the design and the drawings are complete.
Hours and profit are wasted in a duplication of effort.
So now let’s look at how this workflow is changing, reducing the manpower required in the A/E office and increasing profits, continuity and quality of the design and documentation on a project.
But first let me digress to a personal experience in my own practice (circa 1999) that brought me to an epiphany. At one point in my practice I had three draftsmen I was keeping busy utilizing a traditional workflow process. I became frustrated with the redline process and the inability of the production team to see beyond the redlines to the other changes that needed to occur as a result of that single redline, not to mention the inability to get the redlines correct. This resulted in a vicious cycle of wasted manhours that never really lead to a better end result. I realized that if I just did it myself, correct the first time, and followed through on the downstream corrections that needed to be made I would be done in a quarter of the time and the quality and accuracy of the documents would be vastly improved.
Fortunately for me Revit was arriving on the scene at about the same time and it proved to be a serendipitous confluence. I was changing my workflow and Revit fit the one man office concept perfectly. Needless to say profits
went up but what I didn’t realize at the time was that this approach was going to have serious implications on the A/E office and the way we practice.
For now the designer / architect / engineer has at their disposal a tool (Revit or ArchiCAD) that not only realizes the design but in so doing takes you 20-25% down the production road during design. If you keep the A/E working in the BIM on the design / documents through to completion you can:
1. finish the project in a fraction of the time,
2. assure quality of the B.I.M at the A/E level of experience,
3. increase the quality & accuracy of the documents,
4. assure continuity of the design by leveraging the A/E’s working knowledge of the project throughout the
document preparation period,
5. reduce document errors,
6. eliminate duplication of effort,
7. reduce office manpower,
8. increase profits,
9. reduce delivery time.
Essentially you cut out the draftsperson hours completely.
In addition the BIM tools are continuing to evolve, acting as a multiplier on these efficiency gains.
Those firms that are able to embrace and leverage this shift in the industry are going to have a decisive advantage over their competition but it’s going to take some targeted retooling of the existing manpower structure and workflows.
1. A/E’s will need to embrace the B.I.M. design / production tool (Revit / ArchiCAD) and become proficient
at using it in design and production.
2. New A/E hires will need to be proficient in the B.I.M. application of choice for the office.
3. Traditional workflows will need to be phased out.
This approach will have profound effects on staff that are unable or unwilling to adopt to the new workflows so a hybrid approach may be necessary that employs both new and traditional workflows. This will allow the new workflows to be evaluated for efficiency and profitability against the traditional workflows and provide time for internal retooling of the staff and migration to the new workflows. There will be some staff attrition and/or migration into management positions; with positions like drafting production, potentially being completely phased out.
Ultimately, as the BIM gains greater detail, we are headed to delivering a 3D BIM rather that 2d construction documents, effectively eliminating the need for printed drawings.
The field construction interface will move to a, heads up, augmented reality overlay of the 3D-BIM on real space
enhanced by localized GPS positioning for tolerances well above traditional construction level accuracy. This is a natural stepping off point for increase robotics in construction.