January 23, 2012
Microdesk Predictions 2012 – BIM, Collaboration, As-Built Models
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News
Microdesk Predictions 2012 – BIM, Collaboration, As-Built Models

By Susan Smith

A project for Allentown, Inc. for one of their products, which is a primate enclosure

Mike DeLacey, President, Microdesk discussed predictions his company has for the year 2012. Microdesk is a technology consulting firm with 110 people,  12 offices on the east and west coasts and a Chicago office just opened in August. Microdesk is 100 percent dedicated to the AEC industry.

AECWeekly: What would you say your goal is as an organization?

Mike DeLacey: Our charter is to help the entire industry streamline the process of delivering projects. We take an approach of doing for the AEC industry what has already been for the aerospace and automotive industries  -- which is the integrated delivery and the tight relationship between suppliers and manufacturers. It fits very nicely into a lot of things going on with Autodesk, IBM, and Oracle around using technology to streamline that process. We come in, take that technology and help owners with developing  standards and deliverables that support their internal processes -  whether they be review or operations and maintenance. At the same time they take that information out to the design and construction community to help them understand how to develop and deliver projects that meet those requirements.

AECWeekly: What does your company offer?

Mike DeLacey: The primary thing we offer is consulting to help owners, design firms, and construction managers and contractors understand how to leverage what’s happening in the industry, namely BIM, integrated project delivery and process. That’s atransformation well beyond learning how to use the software; it goes much more into what standards should be met, how to talk in this world, how to talk about contracts and value propositions. It’s a whole process of converting an organization from a traditional design process to BIM space and process. The second thing we do is provide software. Our two biggest partners are Autodesk and Oracle, Autodesk is obvious;  Oracle is on the Primavera project management side. Third thing is we have a software development group internally that does a lot of integration work tying applications like Revit to IBM’s Maximo or Oracle’s Primavera, or integrating with existing business systems like SAP.

AECWeekly: Do you have to tailor what you’ve done for the manufacturing industry to the AEC industry to some degree?

Mike DeLacey: From a technology perspective it’s already happening – if you look at BIM, project scheduling software and integrated workplace solutions that are coming out of companies. Technologies are making that transition. The biggest challenge is getting the AEC industry to understand how the relationships need to change in order to fulfill that decision. So the traditionally, very siloed process, meaning the architect contracts with the owner and they have a specific deliverable - once the deliverable is submitted it’s 100% construction documentation. This phase typically goes up to the contractor or the construction management firms for bidding and there is a complete disconnect there. When you think of automotive where it’s all one team from the beginning, and it comes right down into the product and once we know what we want to build, then supplying components to that asset are all very effective and dependent on each other.

It’s starting to happen. You’re seeing many more handshake relationships  between architectural firms, MEP firms, construction firms and engineering firms. Now you ‘re even seeing it between construction managers, contractors and architectural firms or MEP firms because the construction managers really want BIMs to do construction on. They’re starting understand who in the design firm can deliver high quality with the BIM.

A Point cloud image of the Microdesk booth at Autodesk University that they were producing using a simple Kinect

AECWeekly:  Do you recognize differences in technologies between this year and last year?

Mike DeLacey: The difference in this last year, these technologies and software solutions are growing up very quickly. The reason for that is BIM has been out there for seven years, but there aren’t a whole lot of models, and really good projects that have delivered that end result BIM model that a lot of these applications really want to buy into and use. As the model becomes more the norm, you’ll see the software progress very quickly to leverage and take advantage of what’s in those models.

AECWeekly: How about bringing in BIM models from competing CAD companies?

Mike DeLacey: Typically we’ve used Navisworks to facilitate incorporation of other models. From a corporate perspective, we depend on Autodesk being the leader in the industry. We’re solely in the U.S. When you look at marketshare for BIM software, it’s too overwhelming. We typically work from the owner down. We want a Revit deliverable from the architecture, MEP and structural perspective because we are going to have that model maintained over time.

We think it’s challenging to maintain models from ArchiCAD or others.

AECWeekly: Do you manage data from other sources such as lidar data?

Mike DeLacey: We use other technologies like laser scanning pretty regularly for doing both revisions as well as validating record models or as built models.  Our internal tag line is from the time you think you want to build something to the time it is decommissioned and you must build something new, we’re looking to bring technology into every aspect of that process.

We do have BIM that is driving people to look at IPD process vs. looking at one piece of it like architectural design, but are more interested in the delivery of an entire project now than just one aspect.

AECWeekly: What are the trends that you see and what predictions do you have?

Mike DeLacey: From the business and technology sides:  on the business side, the first trend is that so many more owners, whether government or commercial, are asking for BIM but also looking for BIM qualifications, so they have become educated very rapidly. The second major trend is the formation of those handshake relationships between those different design disciplines and/or construction manager and contractors. I think an architectural and MEP firm that gets comfortable using an MEP process are now going out looking for work together; that’s a strong value proposition.

Maybe some of the bigger architectural firms may start bringing MEP firms in house. There are construction management contractor firms that have started buying MEP firms. The value proposition for construction management makes a lot of sense. A real big one a few years ago was Balfour Beatty bought Parsons Brinckerhoff  - they bought a global design firm.

These partnerships are continuing to develop and firms are going to understand how to share data with each other.

Technology predictions include: technology  applications like Citrix and VMware are going to come to the forefront as that piece of technology will allow these firms to collaborate much better together. It will address issues like private files where the architect defines working on same model at same time. That’s happening today as well.

A second prediction is that currently users seem to be more concerned with using a private cloud than a public cloud. I think a private cloud is something that is understood more easily and absorbed. I do think some form of hybrid model and hosted model is going to become very popular. The hybrid internally, so when you need more capacity then you can use a public model. There may come a time when these users ask why are we paying for all this infrastructure when we could just do the public cloud that is a pay-as-you-go service.

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