Using BIM to Bring in Money

November 15th, 2011 by DWM Magazine

Doug Lopez, president of 1st Pricing, believes Building Information Modeling (BIM) will change the way windows are sold while opening up a variety of sales opportunities to window manufacturers. Imagine, he says, being able to visit a website and being able to access all the Bill of Materials (BOM) of the jobsite by inserting your unique drawing plan reference/tracking number. Then choose the exact window you want based on size and several different variables—and choose it based on your zip code. Not only are BOMs on the plans they are also available to view online. Connecting the drawing plans to a website for collaboration is what BIM will do for manufacturers, according to Lopez.

 Oh, and if you choose the latter, the BIM software would even assist in filling out the “cumbersome” LEED paperwork.

“You can get a firm quote for building a house [including the windows] in a matter of seconds,” says Lopez.

1St Pricing has a physical location in Signal Hill, Calif., but also sells to contractors and homeowners through its website, and has been utilizing BIM since 2003. Yet, today many in the residential window industry have been slower to utilize Building Information Modeling (see September DWM, page 38) in residential applications.

But Lopez says this is starting to change. “BIM for residential applications is gaining traction this past nine months,” he says.

Most window manufacturers have manufacturer-specific CAD/BIM objects for download much like the ones with Autodesk Seek, but Lopez says this type of marketing tool is limited.

“Issue one is that after the objects are downloaded the manufacturer has no way of getting feedback on how those objects were used,” he says. “Issue two is that all the metadata (U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient, etc.) for every combination that the window comes in cannot be stored on the object. So the objects look nice but do not have much more information than the usual attributes of width, height [and] quantity.”

This, Lopez says, is causing manufacturers to show interest in making their objects talk to a database via the web to bring back essential energy data (pricing excluded).

“This way the request for data pings on the database and it can be mined for information on what is being specified and where,” he says, “not to mention the architect’s information can be captured for follow-up marketing.”

He says most manufacturers already have this data available in the Point of Sale (POS) software used by their distributors to quote and configure windows in their office.

“The next logical step will be to push the end-user of the plans into the distributor,” says Lopez. “Included in the bill-of-materials (BOM) is where the closest distributor to the jobsite is located. With the simple mapping of a reference/tracking number all the BOM can be imported into the distributor’s in-house computer and priced within seconds. This way the pricing all comes from the normal supply chain network.”

Green—An Added Bonus

While BIM has many benefits, one of the greatest, according to Lopez, is the green aspect.

“With residential BIM it will be about energy data and getting specified,” he says. “BIM can show how products are more efficient than the current code.”

Growth of BIM in the residential building industry will be through getting the manufacturer specified on the plans and putting accurate “green” data on the plans, according to Lopez.

“Residential BIM will be a great tool for LEED or CalGreen projects,” he says. “Imagine that the generated list tells you which of those windows are ENERGY STAR®-rated, and how many LEED 3.1 credits you would receive.”

Lopez says that although many manufacturers have taken the time to develop BIM objects, they don’t know how to get those objects “to talk to the other data in the CAD drawing.”

“The BIM software can tell you how many windows are being quoted in a specified zip code or region,” says Lopez. “Also, now you know who is going to pull a permit. This is a huge sales tool.”

Additionally, BIM will tie into building information management and life cycle analysis. But ultimately it also comes down to practicality and functionality.

“The architect doesn’t want all the data in separate Excel files,” says Lopez. “There is no reason to read plans anymore.”

But architects aren’t the only ones interested in what BIM has to offer.

“We are figuring out how to make the job easier for the window dealer and the general contractor,” says Lopez.

What are your thoughts on BIM? Post a comment here. For more on BIM and its growing use in the residential market, see DWM’s feature article that appeared in the September issue.

 

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