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Obayashi launches operation of Smart BIMcloud and BIMx Docs

ARCHICAD Case Study Report / Special Interview
Obayashi Corporation Head Office Building Construction Division PD Centre

Obayashi launches operation of Smart BIMcloud and BIMx Docs

Obayashi launches operation of Smart BIMcloud and BIMx Docs
Company-wide use of BIM is developed around ARCHICAD

In April, 2014, Obayashi launched the operation of a “Smart BIMcloud” system that shares BIM model data through cloud computing centered on GRAPHISOFT BIMcloud and the ARCHICAD BIM model viewer, BIMx Docs, which runs on the iPad/iPhone. The collaboration system, which is based on GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD, also cooperates with various other BIM software.

  • General Manager Mr. Hiroshi Miyagawa Head Office, Building Construction Division, PD Centre / General Manager
    Mr. Hiroshi Miyagawa
  • General Manager Mr. Atsushi Motoya Head Office, Building Construction Division, PD Centre / General Manager
    Mr. Atsushi Motoya
  • Section Manager Mr. Jun Nakajima Head Office, Building Construction Division, PD Centre / Section Manager
    Mr. Jun Nakajima
  • Section Manager Ms. Eiko Nakazawa Head Office, Building Construction Division, PD Centre / Section Manager
    Ms. Eiko Nakazawa
  • Section Manager Ms. Akemi Urata Head Office, Building Construction Division, PD Centre / Section Manager
    Ms. Akemi Urata
  • Section Manager Mr. Hajime Wada Head Office, Building Construction Division, PD Centre / Section Manager
    Mr. Hajime Wada

Issues that might arise in the future can be caught in the design phase

“Since we started sharing BIM models designed by the company, we can now detect issues in the design phase that earlier would have surfaced only in the construction phase,” said Mr. Wada. “It is very effective that project members can now recognize issues and take the proper measures before construction starts. It even improves our productivity and quality,” added Mr. Wada. In order to develop Smart BIMcloud, an alliance was formed by three parties – Obayashi, who has been promoting the organizational utilization of BIM -- GRAPHISOFT, and NEC; it was developed based on the GRAPHISOFT BIM Server (currently GRAPHISOFT BIMcloud) in the two years since August, 2011.

The goal of Smart BIMcloud is to achieve secure and smooth information sharing and quick consensus-building by sharing building information of BIM among all construction project members’ design offices, general contractors, and sub-contractors. In the development process, GRAPHISOFT took advantage of the technology as a BIM design software ARCHICAD vendor; NEC made good use of the experience and know-how of building large scale Cloud systems and Obayashi utilized a great deal of its BIM implementation experiences in the design and construction industry.

The development of Smart BIMcloud was completed in 2013, starting full-scale operations in April, 2014.

The scene at Obayashi where Smart BIMcloud was introduced. The scene at Obayashi where Smart BIMcloud was introduced.

Sharing information with suppliers by using BIM

“Since launching Smart BIMcloud, it has been used in 80 projects. As the average number of users on each project is 10 people, approximately 800 people have used it so far,” said Ms. Eiko Nakazawa. Smart BIMcloud allows not only employees of Obayashi but suppliers as well to access it depending on their business operations. Because up-to-date design information can be shared in a moment, it can prevent such mistakes that construction or equipment would produce based on old drawings or specifications. “We have been collaborating with equipment suppliers for two years. However, model data transfer was complicated. With the introduction of Smart BIMcloud, our collaboration has become even more active. For example, sub-contractors refer to building models in the cloud actively on their own and apply it in creating construction design of equipment,” said Mr. Motoya.

Operational image of Smart BIMcloud Operational image of Smart BIMcloud
Development system of Smart BIMcloud Development system of Smart BIMcloud

Cooperation with iPad, BIM model can be viewed anywhere

In order to utilize BIM in the organization, Smart BIMcloud has various functions. First is 'The prompt consensus-building by information acquisition on-demand.' In every process of projects, such as design, construction and completion, project members can see 3D information of buildings through the Internet or Intranet. Furthermore, it can work with iPads as well. The latest BIM models that are created using ARCHICAD can be accessed with the BIMx Docs BIM model viewer anytime, anywhere. Another major function of Smart BIMcloud is `To improve building quality by effective use of large amounts of data.' Here, project members both inside and outside of the company can use huge amounts of data effectively and coordinate information quickly and correctly.

“The Smart BIMcloud database centrally manages not only building models, but many different building information including design process, procurement, and various types of simulations. This makes the process smooth and improves quality. If BIM models are managed on different computers or servers separately, it causes a time loss. We can reduce such loss of time significantly,” said Mr. Hiroshi Miyagawa. It opens the way to use past BIM models for future renovation work. “For instance, building renovations that make good use of basements or groundwork of existing buildings have been increasing. BIM models make renovation-related structural calculations easier. Also, point group data, which is measured by 3D laser scanner, can be shared through Smart BIMcloud with project members as well,” continued Mr. Miyagawa.

The drawings displayed on an iPad.
The drawings displayed on an iPad.
The drawings displayed on an iPad.

BIMx Docs displays both 3D models and drawings

BIM software vendors have provided applications that display 3D BIM models on iPads or iPhones for free. The regular necessity of drawings on site can be seen in PDF format on an iPad. Nevertheless, because the 3D model and the drawings are displayed with different software or cannot be simultaneously viewed, there are problems, including positional relationship between 3D models and drawings are difficult to understand.

BIMx Docs introduced by Obayashi in connection with Smart BIMcloud is the sophisticated application GRAPHISOFT developed in order to display ARCHICAD BIM models on an iPad/iPhone. BIMx Docs can display BIM model data created as an ARCHICAD file on 3D and 2D drawings simultaneously. Also, users can view both 3D and 2D drawings with hyperlinks. This feature allows even average users to easily identify the parts of the building displayed on the drawing.

In addition, cross-sections of BIM models displayed on BIMx Docs can be moved freely in 3D spaces. Furthermore, since it is possible to set up links to drawings using a ‘navigation marker' on BIM models or setting up links from the lists that organized drawings by each floor, users can open the necessary drawings immediately. When enlarging the drawing, the enlarged area that is displayed at the upper left on the overall view will prevent you from getting “lost.” As it is possible to connect to the Smart BIMcloud server, up-to-date data can be acquired quickly even remotely.

Model display by BIMx Docs Model display by BIMx Docs
Drawing display by BIMx Docs Drawing display by BIMx Docs Drawing display by BIMx Docs

Synergies with 4,000 iPads that were distributed in-house

Obayashi has distributed approximately 4,000 iPads to the engineers responsible for construction management on site. As a result, the introduction of Smart BIMcloud generates synergies between the utilization of tablet devices. “Some construction managers just need to see and understand BIM Models. It is too difficult for all of these people to learn ARCHICAD. At this point, BIMx Docs helps expand the utilization of BIM within the organization,” said Mr. Motoya.

“The way architects present BIM models to the clients by using iPads will deepen the clients’ understanding. We expect the effect of 'front-loading design' that will draw out detailed demands of clients on the contents of design in the early stage,” said Mr. Nakajima. BIMx Docs can display even sections of BIM models on an iPad. Therefore, it will change the existing operation process in the future. “For example, drawings required many cross-section plans until now. However, if cross-section views would be seen in BIMx Docs freely, some drawings could be omitted. To improve productivity, we would need to change our workflow or drawings to the style that is free from an existing concept,” said Ms. Urata.

Obayashi started to investigate 3D CAD software and BIM in 2008, one year earlier than the so-called “first year of BIM in Japan” in 2009. As a result, they reached a conclusion that ‘BIM must be spread in the construction industry.' This led to the launch of the BIM Development and Administration Department in April 2010. Since then, Obayashi has utilized BIM in real projects such as Tokyo Sky Tree or the main building of Obayashi Corporation Technical Research Institute, etc. Furthermore, the BIM Development and Administration Department was renamed PD Center, supporting BIM introductions and projects company-wide.

The reason ARCHICAD was selected as the main design BIM software is because it is developed based on the “Open BIM” concept that encourages active cooperation with other BIM software through the common BIM data transfer format known as the `IFC format.' Currently, Obayashi uses BIM in 60% of design-construction projects. However, it plans to raise this ratio to 100% by March, 2016. In addition, in order to strengthen productivity improvements by BIM and transform their workflow full-scale, pushing forward the workflow that meets 3D (BIM) rather than aiming for the same achievements they have had with 2D utilization.

GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD, BIMx Docs and Smart BIMcloud will continually support their BIM strategy.

Utilization of iPad at construction site Utilization of iPad at construction site Display of linked drawings Display of linked drawings
A BIM model section on BIMx Docs A BIM model section on BIMx Docs

Corporate Profile

Company Name Obayashi Corporation
President
Representative Director
Mr. Toru Shiraishi
Founded January 1892
Capital JPY 57,752 million
Scope of Business Domestic and overseas construction, regional development, urban development, ocean development, environmental improvement, other construction-related businesses including engineering, management, consulting and real estate
Head Office Minato-ku, Tokyo
Employees 8,305 (As of March 2013)