A wood-frame house producer’s journey to BIM and SOI (I)

I’m working with a Norwegian manufacturer of timber-frame homes to implement a set-of-information (SOI) approach to building information management at an international factory it runs. The case is very illustrative of the great benefits of BIM when optimized to give each actor just the information they need at just the right time throughout a building’s lifecycle.

I choose this example for two reasons. First, the company’s activities cover the full building lifecycle – from sales to handover as well as some maintenance. And second, it’s just now moving to BIM, so there’s a chance to set everything up “right” from the very start.

The factory makes 40-50 houses a year. To begin, let’s look at the processes involved:

As shown in the diagram, the sales team finds customers, who choose from predefined designs for timber-frame single-family homes, request customizations, and then sign a contract for their house. At that point the full project management apparatus kicks in.

Consider how the data flow worked at the factory until now:

In short, they were doing 3D modelling in ArchiCAD with lots of manual exporting and importing via Excel and DWG files to get information where it needs to go. And lots of paper documents to guide all the production, packing, transport and assembly activities.

The goal is to set up a common data environment for the factory: a single building information management pipeline connecting everything and automatically delivering the right information to each admin function and production/assembly point as needed.

The potential gains are huge. Next I’ll explain how we’ve gone about achieving that.

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