Archive for February, 2010

Quick Demo Video Posted to YouTube

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

We put together a seven minute video of DraftLogic Electrical in action, check it out on YouTube at:

Dean Whitford
Chief Operating Officer

BIM and Building Electrical Design Production Software Confusion

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The BIM Buzz

BIM (building information modeling) is the new buzzword for building document production. Creating a 3D model is an exciting new way to represent the building element electronically and allows the designers to fly around and through the 3D images to see how all major components fit together. The advantages over previous 2D technology is the ability to do coordination with all building systems and a compelling way to show clients the spatial relationships that they may not have clearly understood without the benefit of this tool. There is value to the BIM approach but it does not come without a cost. Time must be devoted to creating both the base data and the rendered images, thus there is a balance to be struck between how much time is spent and how far to carry the details.

The Tools

There are many software programs available to create 3D imagery such as Revit and Sketchup.  Most can be compiled into an integrated image with 3rd party software. Programs designed for this purpose are generally easy to use but create large files and have some practical challenges that will limit the level of detail that is created. Most 3D models will include the architectural base and major elements of structural, mechanical and electrical systems that are of sufficient size or location critical to have relevance to the final model. In most cases smaller system components are not shown because as the size of a component is diminished the number of it generally increases as systems branch to the end points. Smaller components are usually not important to the 3D coordination model as they usually can be easily routed on site to fit in spaces available.

How far do you go in 3D?

The answer is easy: only go as far as you need to! Communicate with your client to find out what they really need. In electrical drafting, do you need to show anything beyond the big stuff, distribution boards, cable tray, buss duct, 4” conduits,etc?  Not really.  Even for the components you are interested in, you only need to show those in congested areas so that can cut down your work considerably. In some cases you may want to show some detail like wall plugs, switches etc in typical rooms for coordination but that should be about it.

I hate to break the news but showing ¾” conduits is of little value in the vast majority of cases because it is unlikely installing this size of component will be a problem so nobody cares about modeling to that level in a building. Most firms stop at that point and create the working drawings in their building electrical design production software environment which is usually 2D and much more efficient than working in 3D.

Benefits of 2D

As speedily as possible producing easily managed information that is still perfectly accurate and sufficiently detailed is the primary goal of electrical design firms. In creating DraftLogic Electrical we had that goal clearly in our sights, increasing designer productivity by a minimum of 200% and up to 1300%.

We have included extra information in the 2D model to enable DraftLogic Electrical to create an accurate bill of materials.  Getting to your desired documentation destination in a fraction of the time that would be demanded by working in a 3D environment is extremely beneficial when it comes to creating construction documentation.

Chart your course for efficiency

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do everything with the wrong tools. Use good 3D software to do your modeling and use good building electrical production software to do the rest. A skilled carpenter does not use only one saw for all woodwork, he will have a variety of tools each best suited for a specific task–use software the same way. Yes, you can force results using the wrong tools but why bother to put yourself through that pain?

Gerry Stebnicki P. Eng Bsc. Electrical