Throwing Out the Thrash

At our Live Roundtable on Driving Attainability in U.S. Housing, we asked Tim Beckman, Simpson Strong-Tie’s director of customer-facing software, to share how integrated design and engineering with BIM can help create efficiencies and cut cost out of the home delivery process. In return, he taught us a new word—thrash—and why we should care about it.

Here’s what he had to say.

“BIM [or building information modeling] is a process intended to reduce “thrash,” the associated waste between all of the groups within this industry. It’s that churn that happens as projects get handed off from one group to the next, causing a lot of rework.

If we can figure out how to hand off the right information to the right individual at the right time, it’s going to help with the coordination of different phases of construction. It will help with quality assurance and both on-site and off-site manufacturing. It’s going to optimize some of the just-in-time delivery logistics. We’ll be able to do mass customization.

One of the most notable benefits of BIM is the clean construction documentation process. Production builders want to gain the efficiency of a common core, but the customers actually need some variation: a flex room, an office, a fourth bedroom, an outdoor kitchen.

Historically, we would just create more and more construction documentation. Sometimes we’ve got 200-page sets that show every different in and out. That results in construction documentation that is clouded and creates quite a bit of thrash. The trades don’t really know what they’re supposed to do; they’re flipping pages, holding plans up to the sun to see what they look like.

With BIM we can create that common core and we can create all those different variations. Based upon a customer selection, we can create a site-specific set of construction documents. And then from that we take that model, we rotate it, we create the annotation, we put it on a construction document set. (As a side note, it’s kind of sad that we take the rich 3D model and then turn it into 2D construction documents, but that’s kind of what the industry needs right now.)

Then we can harvest measurements from that high-fidelity 3D building information model. Those measurements can be used to understand what the costs to construct are. That can further be distilled down into explicit SKUs, which helps the industry understand the impact of that cost to construct.

For example, take an architectural model where we can generate the frame, and we could generate manufacturing documentation and send that to the factory floor. BIM allows that efficiency to occur. At the very least we’re saving paper — from 45 pages to 10 pages — and time, doing this in 10 minutes as opposed to two hours.

Doing things this way increases the throughput of your design staff, and it can improve trade relations. (By eliminating thrash, you’ve become the builder of choice with that trade base.)

At Simpson Strong-Tie, we’ve got a group focused on component manufacturing as well as a group focused on builders. What is the right level of detail or level of development in which we share information back and forth? With a traditional HVAC system, we look at wall panels, look at roof trusses, look at the architecture to make sure that it all works well together.

I’m very interested to see what PUReWall’s strategy is in leveraging this type of documentation to drive their fabrication process. And the same for RHEIA with HVAC.” [These are two systems Anthony Grisolia of IBACOS discussed earlier in the PRODUCTION/PROCESS segment.]

At the Alliance request, Simpson Strong-Tie is partnering with IBACOS and KTGY Architecture and Planning to put one of the 1,500 square foot designs they shared during the PRODUCT segment of the Roundtable into a Revit model, trying to make the architectural plans work with the exterior renderings.

Tim says that “they can look at potential problem areas and how those will work within this systems-based approach. We’re going to find issues that are going to be cheaper to solve in a digital model than it is after building the physical model.”

Look for more insights on BIM for housing from Tim Beckman and others by searching “BIM” as a keyword on our website or visiting the BIM page in our Members Only section (if you’re part of our community). Also look for more on driving attainability through the delivery process here